PhD position available – gut microbiome-derived extracellular vesicles: role in gut health

Are you intrigued by the intricate connection between gut health and overall well-being? Do you have a burning curiosity to unravel the mysteries of bacterial extracellular vesicles and their potential impact on gut health, particularly in the context of cancer treatment and food safety? This PhD position might be your next big step.

For this project at Wageningen University, you will pursue a PhD as a fully funded PhD candidate and contribute to understanding the roles of gut microbiome-derived extracellular vesicles in gut health.

In recent years, it is becoming clear that the nanostructures produced by bacteria, namely extracellular vesicles, are functional entities in the interactions between bacteria and the human host. As the important role of the gut microbiota in human health and diseases is still being reinforced with growing evidence, further elucidation of gut microbiome-derived extracellular vesicles as functional factors is an important step. One population that is of specific interest in this context refers to individuals diagnosed with cancer, as these patients usually have an altered gut microbiota because of their disease and treatment.

What will you do?

You will be examining the composition of gut microbiome-derived extracellular vesicles from healthy and diseased individuals and reveal the roles of the bacterial extracellular vesicles in gut health and toxicity.
Your tasks include:

  • refining the isolation and purification methods to obtain gut microbiome-derived extracellular vesicles;
  • optimizing relevant model systems to study the impact on gut health and toxicity upon exposure to bacterial extracellular vesicles;
  • comparing bacterial extracellular vesicle compositions from healthy and diseased individuals, and examining their respective implications on gut health parameters in in vitro model systems;
  • assessing the potential modulation of bacterial extracellular vesicle profiles through exposure to dietary fibers or foodborne chemical contaminants, and vice versa, and subsequent effects on gut health parameters in vitro.

Your qualities

You are versatile, motivated, proactive, and take ownership of the project. You are enthusiastic and capable of working in a multidisciplinary team, have broad interest and are open to learning new techniques and skills. You are determined, persevering and efficient in implementation of tasks.

You also possess the following:

  • a successfully completed MSc degree before the start of this job (Jan 2024), in the areas of microbiology, molecular biology/biotechnology, biomedicine, nutrition, toxicology or other related disciplines;
  • experience of working in the laboratory is essential. Basic knowledge and skills in cell/tissue culture, analytical chemistry and molecular techniques are particularly helpful;
  • basic knowledge on bioinformatics and statistics is important;
  • excellent writing and oral communication skills in English.

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