PhD Studentship: Oral microflora in patients with Type 2 diabetes and their response to oral formulations targeting periodontal complications

An industry-co-funded PhD studentship opportunity, located in the Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences at UWE Bristol, is available with a living stipend and tuition fees at Home/EU rates.

The closing date for applications is 24 April 2019.

About the studentship

This exciting PhD opportunity is in partnership with the American worldwide consumer product company Colgate-Palmolive, in an emerging R&D area of developing oral formulations for individuals with diabetes.

The project focusses on analysis of volatile markers from the mouths of patients with Type 2 diabetes. One of the most common chronic diseases worldwide, diabetes is now an increasing health issue in the developing world. In West Africa (excluding the northern sub-Sahara) 16 million people have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. This part of Africa will see the largest increase in diabetes in the world in the next 20 years.

Periodontal disease affecting the gum and bone supporting the teeth is a significant complication that can affect patients with diabetes. It is estimated that 1 in 3 diabetics suffer from periodontitis. This is considered the 6th complication of diabetes, along with neuropathy, nephropathy, retinopathy, and micro- and macrovascular diseases. This study will provide baseline information on the oral microbiome of healthy and Type 2 diabetic patients with Caucasian and African origin. This will help tailor adequate oral formulations for various clinical and ethnic groups to best control periodontal disease associated with diabetes.

The project involves:

  1. The use of an in vitro perfusion biofilm system based on known periodontal pathogens, and;
  2. analysing their volatile organic (VOC) profile by Selected ion flow tube mass spectrometry (SIFT-MS) and by the use of an electronic device the NeOse (
  3. Microbial samples will be then taken from the gingiva of healthy volunteers and diabetic patients recruited from both Bristol, UK (including deprived working-class areas), and urban and rural parts of Nigeria, and analysed in our in vitro model system.
  4. VOC analysis with SIFT-MS and NeOse will be carried out and their response to different oral formulations under development will be monitored.
  5. The bacterial profile will also be analysed by Human Oral Microbe Identification Microarray (HOMIM) and bioinformatics.
  6. Oral formulations with the most advantageous properties will be used in our clinical trials in the UK and Nigeria to monitor VOC production using the NeOse. This research will help shape up the creation of new oral formulations to control periodontal disease in diabetics.

Funding details

The studentship will start on 01/10/2019, and consists of an annual tax-free stipend of £15,009 for three years, and full-time tuition fees for the length of the funding period, both subject to satisfactory progress.

All applicants will be considered for the full funding offer, regardless of fee status.

Eligibility criteria

Minimum of a good honours degree (2:1) in a relevant scientific discipline (e.g. Biological or Biomedical Sciences with substantial microbiology training.)

A recognised English language qualification is required. 

We are looking for a self-motivated researcher with strong organisational, technical and analytical skills and a local knowledge of Nigeria, to address the overall aims of the project in an innovative manner.

How to apply

Download and complete the Graduate School studentship application form and send it directly to the UWE Bristol Graduate School. Please ensure you include the title of the research project you propose to undertake, and detail why you are interested in undertaking this PhD project and what relevant knowledge, experience and qualifications you would bring to the research. Please see the Graduate School studentship application guidance notes for further information about how to complete the application form.

Please also complete the Equal Opportunities monitoring form and complete the first section of the Graduate School application reference sheet before sending to your nominated referees.

For an informal discussion about the studentship, please email Dr Saliha Saad, or Professor Aniko Varadi

Closing date

The closing date for applications is Wednesday 24 April 2019.

Further information

The interview or this opportunity is scheduled to take place on Friday 3 May 2019. If you have not heard from us by this date, we thank you for your application, but do not wish to pursue it on this occasion.

The start date of this PhD studentship is Tuesday 1 October 2019.

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