MRC PhD Studentship (University of Cambridge) Breast milk lipid profiling and the role of milk lipids in infant growth

Applications are invited for a PhD studentship, funded by the MRC, to commence in October 2014, in Lipid Profiling and Signalling Group. The group studies the role of lipids in the aetiology of diseases like type 2 diabetes, using novel mass spectrometry and multivariate statistics to understand these processes. For this project there will be close collaboration with Prof David Dunger and his team at the Paediatrics Department of the University of Cambridge.

Rapid infant growth and ‘catch-up’ growth is a risk factor for obesity and cardio metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes. We would like to understand if the lipid composition and the dynamics of the lipid composition of breast milk have effects on early growth trajectories, particularly in infants prone to catch up growth, such as small for gestational age infants. High resolution mass spectrometry gives the opportunity to profile the intact lipids in human breast milk and a part of the project will be to develop a new sample collection protocol to determine the dynamics of breast milk lipid composition.

This project will suit a student with a background in nutrition or biochemical science (e.g. nutritional biochemistry) with a strong interest to work with human volunteers (mother-infant pairs) and with state-of-the-art mass spectrometry. It will provide training in analytical chemistry and mass spectrometry, as well as working with human volunteers and epidemiological data.

The successful candidate will be registered with the University of Cambridge and should have, or expect to obtain, a first or upper second class honours degree in an appropriate subject. The studentship is available to UK residents and EU nationals who have been resident in the UK for at least the previous three years. Further information about residence eligibility criteria can be found at

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Further information about MRC Human Nutrition Research can be obtained from our website ( Informal enquiries are welcomed to Dr Albert Koulman (

Applicants should provide a full CV and covering letter explaining their interest in the studentship, and details of two academic referees. Please email to via the Apply button, or post to Postgraduate Administrator, MRC-Human Nutrition Research, 120 Fulbourn Road, Cambridge, CB1 9NL.

Closing date: 6th January 2014

Anticipated Interviews: Week commencing 3rd February 2014

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