Background. Secondary plant metabolites have been related to a number of chronic diseases. Among these, carotenoids are the most frequently consumed lipophilic phytochemicals. However, their bioavailability, i.e. the fraction that can be absorbed and used for physiological functions is rather low and variable. Their release from the food matrix during digestion is among the crucial steps determining bioavailability. Especially dietary fibers have been reported to interact with the release and cellular uptake of carotenoids, but their effects have not been studied systematically. Their interactions with other macronutrients (proteins and lipids) and their interactions with the gut microbiota are not understood either.
Objectives. This is a 3+1-year project funded by the FNR. It is part of a larger project investigating interactions of dietary fibers and carotenoids during digestion. The main aims are to 1) study the effect of dietary fibers during simulated in vitro gastro-intestinal digestion on carotenoid bioaccessibility (involving HPLC, UV-Vis, rheological aspects); 2) investigate interactions between dietary fibers and macronutrients regarding their effect on carotenoid bioavailability aspects, including cellular uptake (Caco-2 cells, co-cultures), 3) investigate bacterial break-down products (LC-MS/MS); 4) study their impact on gut microbiota models (batch fermentation, SHIME model); 4) conduct a human clinical postprandial trial to study the effect of various dietary fibers on carotenoid absorption (from planning to carry-out).
Training and research environment. The Nutrition and Health Research Group is a dynamic and multinational team belonging to the Department of Precision Health. The Nutrition and Health Research Team works at the intersection of basic research and nutritional epidemiology with a focus on translational aspects to improve population health.
We leave some flexibility to incorporate the candidate’s own ideas in order to further study the interactions of dietary fibers, other nutrients and carotenoid bioavailability aspects. The project has been fully funded and should commence on May 1st, 2023 at the latest.
KEY SKILLS, EXPERIENCE AND QUALIFICATIONS
- Master (degree obtained before May 1st, 2023) with a background/education in nutrition, biochemistry, biology, molecular chemistry or equivalent.
- Hands-on laboratory experience, preferably on cell lines, bacteria and/or other analytical aspects is essential.
Knowledge on digestion and/or gut microbiota, as well as statistics, are assets.
- Excellent time management, rigour, perseverance, scientific creativity and originality, sense of priority and ability to work in a Team.
- Fluency in English and excellent writing skills are mandatory.
What we offer
Researchers are supported by easy access to scientific expertise, well-equipped facilities, an active seminar program, and the possibility for close collaborations with universities and other research institutes.
A competitive salary with full benefits will be offered.
Professional profile of the group leader & activities: Dr Torsten Bohn