Fully Funded Studentship Deciphering how dietary polysaccharides improve our immune health (KAWASAKI_F14DTP)

Institute of Food Research – School of Biological Sciences (UEA)


29 November 2013. Available from 1 October 2014. 

Dr Norihito Kawasaki norihito.kawasaki@ifr.ac.uk

The Project:

Dietary polysaccharides from plants and microbes have the potential to improve human health by modulating our own immune system. Although several polysaccharide healthcare supplements have been commercialized based on this idea, the precise mechanism by which such polysaccharides regulate the immune system is unclear. We hypothesize that the key molecular mechanism underpinning the function of such immunomodulatory polysaccharides is the interaction between polysaccharides and protein receptors expressed on immune cells.

To address the hypothesis, the successful candidate will take a multidisciplinary approach involving immunology and biology of carbohydrates (glycobiology). He/she will explore the molecular interaction between polysaccharides and human and mouse immune cells, using a wide range of techniques such as flow cytometry, ELISA method, and quantitative PCR analysis.

This research will deliver crucial knowledge on how immunomodulatory polysaccharides function, and the potential impacts are far-reaching as the results will contribute to the design and development of more potent novel carbohydrate-based healthcare products and therapeutics.

Students who seek to obtain skills and knowledge in a wide range of techniques are particularly encouraged to apply, as the project builds on the multidisciplinary research area of glyco-immunology.  The successful candidate will also have ample opportunity to interact with the related research teams in food science, microbiology, and immunology at the Institute of Food Research and within the Norwich Research Park (John Innes Centre, University of East Anglia, The Genome Analysis Centre, and Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital), which will further help the student’s professional career development.

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Entry Requirements:

2:1 or 2:2 plus Masters. English Language – IELTS 6.5 overall with 6 in each category.


Due to funding restrictions funding for PhD studentships from BBSRC is available to successful candidates who meet the UK Research Council eligibility criteria including the 3-year UK residency requirements. These requirements are detailed in the BBSRC eligibility guidelines:


In most cases UK and EU nationals who have been ordinarily resident in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the course are eligible for a full-award. Other EU nationals may qualify for a fees only award. All candidates should check to confirm their eligibility for funding.

The current stipend for 2013/14 is £13,726 per annum.

Making Your Application:

For further information and to apply, please visit the ‘How to Apply’ page on our website by clicking Apply.

Additional Information:

In keeping with the postgraduate training policy of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) all students recruited onto this programme will be required to undertake a three months internship during the second or third year of their study. The internship will offer exciting and invaluable experience of work in an area outside of research, and full support and advice will be provided by a professional team from the UEA.

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) – a collaboration between the Norwich Biosciences Institutes and the University of East Anglia.  Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed as part of the Studentship Competition.  The interview dates will be the 14th and 15th January 2014.

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