Phd Studentship in Human Physiology and Metabolism: Mobilising vitamin D from adipose tissue - The potential impact of exercise


Department for Health, Bath
Closing date: 
25 February 2019
Professor Dylan Thompson


Vitamin D accumulates in large amounts in adipose tissue. Even without supplementation, the amount of vitamin D in the adipose of a typical adult is equivalent to several months of the daily Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI). Paradoxically, despite the large amounts of vitamin D located in adipose tissue, individuals with obesity are often vitamin D deficient according to consensus measures of vitamin D status. This paradox probably indicates that vitamin D can become ‘trapped’ or ‘sequestered’ in adipose tissue. The BBSRC have funded a large project to investigate whether exercise can help to mobilise vitamin D from adipose tissue (the VitaDEx project). The candidate appointed to this studentship will work with other staff to support the VitaDEx project as well as design and lead on other independent (related) studies. If exercise and other interventions help to mobilise vitamin D from adipose tissue then this will have important ramifications for practitioners and policy makers regarding the management of low circulating levels of vitamin D as well as obesity.

The Research Project

The VitaDEx project will examine the impact of structured exercise on vitamin D metabolism in men and women, with a specific focus on the role of adipose tissue. It will also examine the impact of adiposity per se on vitamin D metabolism. This project is an excellent training opportunity that involves many different techniques, including:

·         adipose and muscle biopsy measurements

·         human intervention studies (exercise)

·         stable isotopes (tracers)

·         arteriovenous differences

·         cell culture

·         Next Generation Sequencing (RNAseq)

In addition to formal supervision from staff at the University of Bath, the student will also benefit from interaction with collaborators at the University of Birmingham (Professor Martin Hewison, Dr Konstantinos Manolopoulos) and University of Cambridge (Dr Kerry Jones, Dr Albert Koulman). 

As well as supporting the VitaDEx project, the successful candidate will establish and lead independent studies in related areas. The questions to be addressed in these other studies will be developed in the first 6-12 months and are not predetermined. As examples, these studies might examine the impact of weight gain, or vitamin D metabolism in different population groups (especially adipose tissue vitamin D metabolism).

3 years full time, covering Home/EU tuition fees, annual stipend of at least £14,777 (18/19 rate) and a Training Support Fee.

Applicants for a studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, as a minimum, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an area appropriate to the skills requirements of the project.