PhD Research Project The Effects of High Fibre Diets in Poultry Meat Production: Host Functional and Metabolic Responses


PhD Supervisor: Prof Martin J Woodward

Application Deadline: Friday 28th June 2013

Funding Availability: Funded PhD project s (due to funding restrictions this opportunity is only available to UK/EU candidates)

By the year 2050 the human population will increase to 9 billion people with major consequences for food production and sustainability. Consumption of animal meat, especially poultry meat, is increasing rapidly and the demand is to improve all production parameters whilst minimising environmental impact and reducing competition for feed ingredients. Altering the diet for animal production is a pertinent research theme.


The aim of this study is to understand the response of the chicken to adjusting one parameter of feed, namely increasing dietary fibre. Functional (e.g. intestinal morphology, barrier function, mucin production, intestinal physiology etc), metabolic (e.g. metabolomic characterisation of colonocytes, liver cells, glycogen content of muscle etc) and immunological (e.g. RT-PCR based expression studies of key effector genes and potentially whole host cell mRNA profiling) responses will be assessed. The study is supported by whole animal dietary studies and is part of a larger study in which the impact on the gut microbial metagenome will be assessed by Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) metagenomic approaches that will profile luminal and mucosally attached bacteria of the small intestine and caecum. There will be significant opportunity for interaction across disciplines.


The work will be supported by a newly refurbished molecular biology suite and the Chemical Analysis Facility (CAF) which has a world class state of the art metabolite analysis capability. The animal accommodation is provided by the on-site farm. This study will be supervised by Prof Martin J Woodward who leads the ‘sustainable animal production’ research initiatives from the University’s Centre for Food Security (CFS) and who has over thirty years’ of experience in poultry health and vaccine development. This project will be supported by an extensive network of experts across all relevant disciplines hosted by the Centre.

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Funding notes:

Applications are invited for this very exciting research opportunity and prospective candidates should hold or expect to have gained at least an upper second degree in a relevant subject such as animal nutrition, food and nutrition, animal sciences, immunology, biochemistry or other relevant biological science. Stipends will be at standard BBSRC rates in addition to covering tuition and registration fees. Due to restrictions on the funding, applications are limited to UK/European nationals only. The project will commence as of 1st October 2013 and be for three years duration.



Formal applications should be submitted in the form of a CV and a covering letter (quoting reference GS13-33) outlining motivation, interest and suitability for the project and should be sent directly and exclusively by e-mail to Prof Martin J Woodward ( ).

A minimum of two named referees need to be supplied with the application also. In addition, for informal discussion about the project and the extensive training opportunities within the studies please contact Prof Martin J Woodward by e-mail ( or by telephone (44+ (0)118 378 8727). The deadline for applications is the 28th June 2013 and the interviews will be held on Monday 8th July.


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