PhD Fellowship: Rate of digestion, absorption and metabolism of dietary proteins containing different levels of tryptophan

The Organisation

The Riddet Institute is a world-best research centre in food and nutritional sciences, providing fundamental scientific understanding and training for a new generation of science leaders.  The Institute is one of New Zealand’s Centres of Research Excellence (CoRE) and as such, integrates partner organisations (Massey University (host), Auckland and Otago Universities, AgResearch and Plant & Food Research) and disciplines, to lead a “NZ Inc” approach to food research, and to generate new knowledge and capability that will transform New Zealand’s food industry.

 The Role

Tryptophan is the precursor for several metabolites that have been related to well-being (e.g. mood, sleep, stress), such as serotonin and melatonin. The tryptophan content of protein sources varies considerably. It is expected that differences between protein sources in tryptophan content and the rate of tryptophan absorption will affect the production and/or concentration of tryptophan metabolites in sites such as the gut epithelium and brain.

 We are seeking an outstanding PhD candidate to investigate the rate of digestion, absorption and metabolism of tryptophan.  This will involve in vivo studies; including participating in studies that are currently being undertaken at the Riddet Institute and new studies to be developed by the PhD candidate. The candidate will use different approaches (e.g. HPLC, mass spectrometry) to determine the levels of tryptophan and its metabolites across key tissues like the gastrointestinal tract, liver and brain.

 Duties

  • Presenting a research seminar and written report to gain confirmation of PhD programme registration one year after starting.
  • Meeting regularly with supervisors to discuss plans and results.
  • Presenting plans for research and experimental protocols to supervisors for review prior to carrying out.
  • Completing experiments using techniques such as amino acid kinetics, modelling amino acid digestion, absorption and metabolism and the analysis of serotonin, melatonin and their metabolites.
  • Completing animal experiments including day-to-day handling and terminal blood and tissue sampling.
  • Carrying out data analysis.
  • Writing a PhD thesis, including an extensive literature review, 3-5 research chapters and a general discussion.
  • Submitting manuscripts to journals, including a mini-review article and at least two research articles, before the thesis is submitted.
  • Complying with Health and Safety Policies as set by Massey University, and at all times have consideration for the safety of yourself and others in the workplace.
  • Ensuring legislative compliance, (e.g., Department of Labour, HSNO, EPA Animal Ethics) and appropriate data security.

 About you

You will have:

  • A relevant Masters or Honor’s degree (e.g. biochemistry, protein chemistry, nutrition) with a grade sufficient to gain entry into a PhD.  The qualification must also include a substantive research project.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills (IELTS score of 6.5 or equivalent required, if English is not first language).
  • Strong analytical and problem solving skills.
  • Diligence, resilience and enthusiasm.
  • Previous experience in protein chemistry, amino acid kinetics and nutrition is preferred.

 Benefits

The three-year studentship, funded by the Riddet Institute, includes an annual tax-free stipend of NZD$30,000 plus tuition fees. As the successful candidate you will be enrolled and located at Massey University in Palmerston North, and will

  • have the opportunity to take part in leading edge research;
  • be a part of a successful multidisciplinary research team;
  • develop your career as an independent researcher.

 PhD Supervisors: Distinguished Professor Paul Moughan, Drs Carlos Montoya and Suzanne Hodgkinson and Professor Warren McNabb.

 How to apply

Closing date for applications is January 7th 2018.

 Please send your application in the form of a (1) covering letter addressing why you are the ideal candidate, (2) your CV and (3) your academic transcripts to info@riddet.ac.nz

 Please send any other enquiries that you have about this position to Professor Warren McNabb (W.McNabb@massey.ac.nz).

 For further information on postgraduate study at Massey University please see: http://www.massey.ac.nz/massey/postgraduate.

 

Job Description

The aim of this position is to complete a PhD thesis investigating the rate of digestion, absorption and metabolism of tryptophan.

 In order to be eligible for this position the candidate must meet the Massey University criteria for enrolment in a PhD programme. This includes:

  • A relevant Masters or Honor’s degree (e.g. biochemistry, protein chemistry, nutrition) with a grade sufficient to gain entry into a PhD.  The qualification must also include a substantive research project.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills (IELTS score of 6.5 or equivalent required, if English is not first language).

 The PhD student’s duties will include:

  • Completing relevant Massey University course(s) deemed necessary by supervisors (depending on previous experience).
  • Presenting a research seminar and written report to gain confirmation of PhD programme registration one year after starting.
  • Meeting regularly with supervisors to discuss plans and results.
  • Presenting plans for research and experimental protocols to supervisors for review prior to carrying out.
  • Completing experiments using techniques such as amino acid kinetics, modelling amino acid digestion, absorption and metabolism and the analysis of serotonin, melatonin and their metabolites.
  • Completing animal experiments including day-to-day handling and terminal blood and tissue sampling.
  • Carrying out data analysis.
  • Writing a PhD thesis, including an extensive literature review, 3-5 research chapters and a general discussion.
  • Submitting manuscripts to journals, including a mini-review article and at least two research articles, before the thesis is submitted.
  • Complying with Health and Safety Policies as set by Massey University and at all times have consideration for the safety of yourself and others in the workplace.
  • Ensuring legislative compliance, (e.g., Department of Labour, HSNO, EPA Animal Ethics) and appropriate data security.