PhD student: Bioengineering Sciences/ Biotechnology/ Veterinary Sciences: Belgium

Over the last decade, a variety of products have been added as feed additives to maintain animal health. Also in humans, prebiotic and probiotic products are being used more frequently to counteract intestinal syndromes and diseases, and food has been proven as a target to maintain and improve gut health. Chinese traditional medicine uses a variety of compounds and molecules with presumed beneficial effects on gut health. One of these, berberine, is a plant-derived alkaloid that was originally used as a herbal anti-diarrheic agent in China. More recently, potent anti-inflammatory actions of berberine have been described. In a 4-year PhD project, mechanisms of action of this molecule will be investigated with regard to its gut health promoting effects. Direct effects on host cells (epithelium) and indirect effects via the microbiota will be studied.

The intestinal microbiota can thus interfere in 2 ways with the activity of berberine, either by conversion of berberine into an absorbable reduced form, or by intestinal microbial (and thus metabolic) shifts caused by feed-derived berberine. Both ways will be investigated in depth using classical microbiological methods, bioinformatic approaches, 16S sequencing and metabolome studies, both using in vitro bacterial cultures and in vivo models. In vivo models will be murine and poultry. This project can lead to applications in human and veterinary medicine as food or feed ingredient that can prevent or counteract intestinal disorders. This project is a joint project with multiple PhD students that interact with each other and is a collaboration between the laboratories of Prof. Van Immerseel (Department of Pathology, Bacteriology and Avian Diseases), Prof. Beyaert (VIB-UGent Centre for Inflammation Research, Unit of Molecular Signal Transduction in Inflammation) and prof. Libert (VIB-UGent Centre for Inflammation Research, and Department of Biomedical Molecular Biology).

What do we offer?

  • working in a pleasant work environment with a young and dynamic team
  • the opportunity to obtain a PhD or take the next step in your research career
  • the position is immediately available

Profile of the candidate

  • master degree or PhD in Bioengineering Sciences, Biotechnology, Veterinary Sciences or equivalent
  • excellent communication skills and proficiency in English
  • highly motivated and team-oriented
  • you are driven to explore research questions independently and in depth
  • you have a specific interest in intestinal health and the host-microbiome cross-talk

How to apply

Send your motivation letter, scientific resume and reference contacts to Prof. Filip Van Immerseel ( by e-mail. After the first screening, suitable candidates will be invited for an interview.

Further details:
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