The selective process is open for the coverage of 1 vacancy for a PhD student at the BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE OF GIRONA DR.
JOSEP TRUETA (IDIBGI) in the Department of Endocrinology (head of project : Prof. Dr. José Manuel Fernández-Real). IDIBGI offers a PhD position for an Early-Stage Researcher (ESR) for the project : Impact of the gut microbiome on cognitive function in middle-aged subjects.
Effects of metformin. The position is part of the EU-funded Innovative Training Network SmartAge ( Gut-brain-axis : Targets for improvement of cognition in the elderly )
Objective of the project :
To analyse the impact of age and metformin on gut-microbiome, and cognition. Different domains of cognition will be explored : attention, memory and executive function (Stroop test, California verbal learning test, Trail Making Test A and B) in association with metabolic variables and MRI scans including diffusion tensor imaging (DTI).
Blood samples will be collected to measure various markers of microbial translocation / gut barrier function (bacterial endotoxins, CD14, LBP, ZO-1 and I-FABP), inflammation (progranulin, CRP, Tnfá, IL-6, IL-1á, IL-1â) by qPCR and ELISA and to process for metabolomics SCFA).
Diet and physical activity (recorded through accelerometers) will be controlled. All these variables will be evaluated at baseline and one year thereafter in subjects >
65- 75 years old after an intervention with metformin 850 mg Metformin is expected to impact on cognitive improvement and the gut-microbiome as well as on the gut barrier function and inflammaging.
The PhD student will join a research group with extensive experience in the study of the pathophysiology of obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus and their complications.
The main traditional lines of research are focused on innate immune system, inflammatory pathways, and metabolic diseases.
Furthermore, the group has done significant work evaluating the biology of human adipose tissue and the role of the microbiome on the cognitive profiles of individuals with obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Currently, the group is elucidating the complex interplay among the gut microbiome, the metabolome (including microbial-host co-metabolites), brain microstructure, and cognitive performance (memory, inhibitory control, etc.
and its modulation by obesity.
Requirements of the applicant :
We expect a Master s degree (accrediting between 60 and 120 ECTS credits at the official university master's degree level or equivalent) in Health and / or Life Sciences (Systems Biology, Bioinformatics, Psychology, Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience, Biomedicine, Biology) or Medicine.
Furthermore, the applicant should be able to perform team-oriented as well as independent work. Desirable methodological skills include : excellent background in systems biology, neuroscience, and metabolism, as well as experience in analysing large omics datasets and neuroimaging data.
This will include the use of a variety of R, Phyton, MATLAB, SPM, and FSL statistical packages (machine learning algorithms, microbiome compositional data analysis, pattern recognition methods, brain structural and connectivity analyses, etc.
to extract relevant biological information from individual omics datasets (metabolomics, transcriptomics, and metagenomics) as well as from magnetic resonance imaging data, and their integration.
Very good language skills in English are required. Given that the candidate will interact with local patients, fluency in Spanish will be also considered.
Please note the eligibility criteria for researchers : Candidates must be in the first four years of his / her research career, not have a doctoral degree, and not have resided in Spain for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date.