PhD Project - Sweet Treats or Carrots: Nutritional and Pharmacological Regulation of Fibroblast Growth Factor 21 (FGF-21)


University of Aberdeen, ABERDEEN
Closing date: 
22 February 2017
Nimesh Mody

Project DescriptionSupervisory team: Dr Nimesh Mody, Dr Alasdair Mackenzie and Dr Sanjay Rajpara (Consultant Dermatologist) 

Fibroblast growth factor (FGF)21 is a hormone made in the liver and functions to promote burning of fat and control blood sugar levels. Therefore, FGF21 is being pursued as a therapeutic strategy for type-2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease. Our project aims to understand how circulating levels of FGF21 are changed by what we eat and by treatment with vitamin A like molecules, which have powerful effects on body fat and glucose levels. We will investigate these changes in mice and we will measure FGF21 levels in human patients treated with vitamin A like molecules for severe acne (as part of their normal clinical treatment). Obesity and type-2 diabetes are increasingly prevalent medical conditions and linked to an ageing population with free access to calorie-rich processed foods. Our project therefore fits the key challenges of understanding the cellular processes and mechanistic basis of how foods and nutrients influence lifespan and healthy ageing using human and animal systems with the long-term objective of promoting health in later life.Funding Notes

This project is part of a competition funded by the Institute of Medical Sciences at the University of Aberdeen. The award is available to UK/EU students only. 

Candidates should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum of a 2.1 Honours degree in a relevant subject. Applicants with a 2.2 Honours degree may be considered provided they have a Commendation or Distinction at Masters level. 

Applicants are strongly advised to contact the lead supervisor to discuss the project before submitting a formal application. 

Interviews will take place on 20 March 2017.


(1) FGF-21 as a novel metabolic regulator. Kharitonenkov A, et al. Journal of Clinical Investigation 2005, 115 1627–1635. doi:10.1172/JCI23606. 

(2) Obesity is a fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21)-resistant state. Fisher FM, et al. Diabetes. 2010, 59(11):2781-9. doi: 10.2337/db10-0193. 

(3) The Effects of LY2405319, an FGF21 Analog, in Obese Human Subjects with Type 2 Diabetes. Gaich G, et al Cell Metabolism, 2013, Volume 18, Issue 3, Pages 333-340 doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2013.08.014.