Postdoctoral Research Scientist
Post Details
Job Title
Postdoctoral Research Scientist
Post Number
Closing Date
2 Jan 2019
Starting Salary
£31,250 - £38,100
Hours per week
Project Title
Carbohydrate fermentation in the colon - the role of structure and carbohydrate delivery
Expected/Ideal Start Date
01 Feb 2019
Months Duration
Interview Date
14 Jan 2019

Job Description

Main Purpose of the Job

This role will support research within the Warren group at QIB supported by our BBSRC Institute Strategic Programme Grant (ISPG). The post holder will have responsibility for delivering the objectives of the ISPG Programme, which is a large, multi-disciplinary research programme aiming to understand the role of food structure and food bioactives on maintenance of health. This role will focus on the carbohydrate structure aspects of the ISPG, and will support a series of studies investigating the influence of starch structure on colonic fermentation. This will involve leading in vitro digestion and fermentation experiments using starches from different sources with defined structural chemistry, as well as other non starch carbohydrates. This will require experience of sequencing techniques (16S and WGS) as well as microbial metabolite analysis, and the use of in vitro digestion and model colon systems. The post holder will also be involved in the development of in vivo intubation studies leading on from the in vitro experiments in which samples of duodenal and ileal microbiota will be taken for analysis, in addition to colonic samples. In addition to these duties, the post holder will be expected to play an active role in the preparation of manuscripts, supervision of students and in the general running of the lab (organising lab meetings etc.)

Key Relationships

The successful applicant will be directly supervised by Dr Fred Warren, and will be within the Food Structure Group which is led by Prof. Pete Wilde. The successful applicant will also work closely with other Postdoctoral Researchers within the Warren Group as well as playing an active role in the supervision of PhD students in the group.

Main Activities & Responsibilities

Designing and carrying out experimental work within the Food, Innovation and Health ISP programme
Supervision and training of students
Preperation of manuscripts
Ensuring smooth running of the lab (ordering consumables, managing project budgets etc.)
As agreed with the line manager, any other duties commensurate with the nature of the post, for example, contributing to the work of Institute committees.

Person Profile

Education & Qualifications

PhD in microbiology, nutrition, food science, biochemistry, or related area

Specialist Knowledge & Skills

Carbohydrate structural analysis
Knowledge of Biochemical analysis methods
Knowledge of Microbiological techniques
Knowledge of glycoside hydrolyase enzymes

Relevant Experience

Experience of in vitro models of the GI tract/colon
Willingness/experience handling human samples
Preparing manuscripts for publication in peer review journals
DNA extraction
Sequencing techniques (16S and WGS)
Microbial metabolite analysis
Supervising undergraduate and post-graduate students
Preparing structured carbohydrates

Interpersonal & Communication Skills

Excellent communication skills, both written and oral
Demonstrated ability to work independently, using initiative and applying problem solving skills
Excellent time management and organisational skills with proven ability to meet deadlines
Embrace working as part of a diverse and multi-disciplinary team
Ability to collaborate with internal and external stakeholders
Ability to follow instructions/Standard Operating Procedures
Promotes and strives for continuous improvement

Additional Requirements

Promotes equality and values diversity
Willingness to work outside standard working hours when required
Ability to undertake occasional travel (national and international) related to collaborations and/or seminars
Attention to detail

Who We Are

Quadram Institute Bioscience

The Quadram Institute is at the forefront of a new interface between food science, gut biology and health, developing solutions to worldwide challenges in food-related disease and human health.

We are engaged in fundamental and translational food and health research, alongside clinical studies, endoscopy and industry, working together to become a leading international hub for food and health research, combining scientific excellence and clinical expertise, delivering impacts on patient care and accelerating innovation.

In preparation for the full opening of the Quadram Institute in 2018, the Institute of Food Research transitioned into Quadram Institute Bioscience on April 28th 2017.


Food Innovation and Health

Group Details

The Warren group at The Quadram Institute Bioscience (QIB) is a dynamic research team working on a range of projects related to carbohydrate structure and function in the diet. The group currently comprises three Postdoctoral Researchers and three PhD students. We work on a wide range of projects relating to carbohydrate structure, digestion and nutrition from using cutting edge NMR spectroscopy methods to quantify structure in carbohydrates to studies of carbohydrate fermentation pathways in ex vivo models of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. We have access and expertise in a wide range of techniques including for carbohydrate analysis (DSC, SEC, NMR, XRD) as well as in vitro models of both small intestinal digestion and colonic fermentation. Much of our research is focused on understanding the role that carbohydrate (and particularly starch) structure plays in influencing digestive behaviour throughout the GI tract. The aim of our research is to develop novel functional starches for use in food applications, as well as to expand our understanding of how carbohydrates are handled and broken down in the digestive tract.


Advert Text

Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Research Scientist to join the Laboratory of Fred Warren in the Food, Innovation and Health Programme at the Quadram Institute Bioscience (QIB), based in Norwich, UK. The QIB is an exciting new research institute which is at the forefront of research into links between diet, gut and microbiome, moving to a new £80 million building in early 2019.


The Food, Innovation and Health Programme within QIB is focused on the links between the chemical and physical nature of fresh and processed foods and our health. We consider the main classes of food polymers that function as both structural components and nutrients - lipids, protein, and carbohydrates, as well as ‘non-nutrient’ bioactive compounds. The programme has a particular focus on the role of dietary carbohydrates, and we take a holistic approach working from plant breeding programmes developing novel structured carbohydrate, through in vitro model systems to human intervention studies. We aim to gain mechanistic understanding of the role of carbohydrate structure in food digestion

The role:

The goal of this BBSRC funded position is to determine the influence of starch structure on digestion and fermentation in the colon. Starch is a fascinating and complex biomolecule, which is one of the main sources of energy for both humans, and our microbiomes. As such, the digestion and colonic fermentation of starch has a significant impact on human health.

The carbohydrates in question are from a range of sources, including novel starches produced by breeding programmes at the nearby John Innes Centre, as well as from industrial partners. The role will involve structural characterisation of starches using a wide range of techniques which we have expertise in within the research group, including Size Exclusion Chromatography, Differential Scanning Calorimetry, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and X-Ray Diffractometry. These highly characterised starches will then be used as substrates for in vitro digestion systems to explore their small intestinal digestion rates and delivery of carbohydrate to the colon. Following in vitro digestion, these will then be used as substrates for in vitro fermentation using a model colon system.

The successful applicant will characterise fermentation by measuring gas production kinetics, and metabolites analysis using NMR and LC-MS. Additionally, the applicant will carry out 16S sequencing based analyses of microbial community composition, and we have recently begun studies using whole genome metagenomic approaches to identify starch degrading species and gene pathways.

These studies will form part of the larger Strategic Grant Programme, where the successful applicant will be expected to interact with colleagues conducting animal and human interventions in order to inform the development of these studies, and to provide in vitro/in vivo comparisons.

The ideal candidate:

The ideal candidate will be highly enthusiastic and will possess a PhD in microbiology, nutrition, food science, biochemistry, or related area, and have practical experience working in this area. You will be motivated to work as part of, and contribute to, a large research programme, both leading projects and contributing to collaborative projects. Ideally you will have experience in carbohydrate structural analysis and with in vitro models of the human digestive system. Working in a large research programme, excellent organisational and communication skills are also essential, with a strong track record of high quality publications.

Additional information:

Salary on appointment will be within the range £31,250 to £38,100 per annum depending on qualifications and experience. This post is for a contract of 3 years.

Interviews will be held on 14 January 2019.

We are committed to equal opportunities and welcome applications from all sectors of society. The Institute supports equality of opportunity within the workplace and expects all employees to share and display these values. To support our commitment, we have a range of family, faith and diversity friendly working arrangements to help all staff achieve excellence in their area of work.

As a Disability Confident employer, we guarantee to offer an interview to all disabled applicants who meet the essential criteria for this vacancy.