PhD fellowship Food Digestion and Health

The Department of Food Science, Section of Food Analytics and Biotechnology invites applicants for a PhD fellowship in food digestion and health with the aim to understand how the composition and structure of dietary fibre affects the interactions of foods with the digestive tract.

The PhD position is part of a research project funded by the Danish research council: ‘Fibre in Foods: Wheat varieties for enhanced health benefits at reduced processing levels (FAVOUREAT)’.

Start date is expected to be 1 September 2023 or as soon as possible thereafter.

The project

Consumption of dietary fibre is widely recognised to have positive health effects; however, many people worldwide consume less than the recommended FAO/WHO levels. In Europe, where bread is a staple, this is observed particularly among children and adolescents who increasingly prefer the highly refined, low-in-dietary fibre white bread. In response, the food industry has invested in developing high-fibre white bread by fortifying the white, refined flour with dietary fibre extracted from different sources (e.g. from oats). Although this could provide health benefits, it is (1) largely empirical, as we currently lack knowledge of how extraction impacts digestion, and (2) costly and with increased environmental impact as it requires energy-intensive prior fibre extraction, and associated adjustments to the production process.

FAVOREAT will explore the potential to develop healthy, minimally processed, high-fibre white bread by exploiting the natural diversity of wheat and utilising wheat lines that are naturally high in endosperm fibre. For this, FAVOREAT will generate new knowledge required to identify how different structures of exogenous and endogenous dietary fibre affect the digestion of bread and associated health effects, with the aim to provide white bread with increased health benefits at reduced processing levels. The project is highly interdisciplinary and spans from characterisation of the plant material to the production of the bread and evaluation of their digestibility and health effects using in-vitro and in-vivo studies. The project is built on an exciting collaboration between Rothamsted Research, UK, and the departments of Food Science and Animal & Veterinary Science at the University of Copenhagen.

Specific tasks for the PhD position in food digestion and health:

  • Detailed characterisation of wheat cultivars, including extraction, hydrolysis, and characterisation of dietary fibre.
  • Development and characterisation of bread with different dietary fibre compositions/structure
  • In-vitro evaluation of starch/protein digestibility and structure breakdown of the bread during upper gastro-intestinal digestion using static and dynamic methods
  • In-vitro gut microbiome studies of the different bread
  • In-vivo animal studies and collection of samples. It is noted that the assistance from experienced personelle will be provided as required.
  • Metabolomic analysis of bio-samples from the in-vivo studies.

Who are we looking for?

We are looking for candidates within a relevant field(s), such as food science, food engineering, and biochemistry (polysaccharides).

Our group and research- and what do we offer?

The selected PhD student will be part of the Plant Based Foods and Biochemistry research group in the Section of Food Analytics and Biotechnology. The group currently has 18 members and offers an open, supportive environment for everyone to thrive. We work on a range of topics that range from purely biotechnological to food science and digestion. As a member of the group, you will participate in our regular (weekly) meetings, where you will have the opportunity to present your work in a safe environment and engage in scientific discussions relevant to our field. You will also be part of our exciting social events.

The group is a part of the Department of Food Science, Faculty of SCIENCE, University of Copenhagen. We are located in Copenhagen. We offer creative and stimulating working conditions in a dynamic and international research environment.

Principal supervisor is Dr Ourania Gouseti, Department of Food Science, UCPH (

The PhD programme is a three-year full-time study within the framework of the regular PhD programme (5+3 scheme).

Qualifications needed:
To be eligible for the regular PhD programme, you must have completed a degree programme, equivalent to a Danish master’s degree (180 ECTS/3 FTE BSc + 120 ECTS/2 FTE MSc) related to the subject area of the project, e.g. food science, food engineering, chemistry. For information on eligibility of completed programmes, see General assessments for specific countries and Assessment database.

Terms of employment:
Employment as PhD fellow is full-time and for maximum 3 years.

Employment is conditional upon your successful enrolment as a PhD student at the PhD School at the Faculty of SCIENCE, University of Copenhagen. This requires submission and acceptance of an application for the specific project formulated by the applicant.

The terms of employment and salary are in accordance with the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State (AC). The position is covered by the Protocol on Job Structure.

General Responsibilities and tasks

  • Carry through an independent research project under supervision
  • Complete PhD courses corresponding to approx. 30 ECTS / ½ FTE
  • Participate in active research environments, including a stay at another research institution, which for this position will be in the UK.
  • Teaching and knowledge dissemination activities
  • Write scientific papers aimed at high-impact journals
  • Write and defend a PhD thesis on the basis of your project

We are looking for a candidate with several of the following qualifications:

  • An MSc degree in areas relevant to the PhD project (e.g., food science, food engineering, biochemistry)
  • Curious mindset with strong interest in food digestion and health
  • Practical experience in in-vitro food digestion methods
  • Material characterisation methods
  • Metabolomics
  • Gas Chromatography / Mass Spectrometry
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Microbe characterisation: 16S ribosomal RNA sequencing
  • Excellent English communication skills
  • Good interpersonal skills
  • Strong work ethics
  • High ambitions
  • Team player

Key selection criteria:

  • Professional qualifications relevant for the position
  • Relevant work experience
  • Language skills
  • Creative thinking
  • Level of enthusiasm and motivation

Application and Assessment Procedure

 Your application including all attachments must be in English and submitted electronically by clicking APPLY NOW below.

Please include

  1. Motivated letter of application (max. one page)
  2. Your motivation for applying for the specific PhD project/State which PhD project you are applying for (ved multiopslag)/Project proposal (ved helt åbne opslag)
  3. Curriculum vitae including information about your education, experience, language skills and other skills relevant for the position
  4. Original diplomas for Bachelor of Science or Master of Science and transcript of records in the original language, including an authorized English translation if issued in another language than English or Danish. If not completed, a certified/signed copy of a recent transcript of records or a written statement from the institution or supervisor is accepted.
  5. Publication list (if possible)
  6. Reference letters (if available)

Application deadline:

The deadline for applications is 10 April 2023, 23:59 GMT +2

We reserve the right not to consider material received after the deadline, and not to consider applications that do not live up to the abovementioned requirements.

The further process
After deadline, a number of applicants will be selected for academic assessment by an unbiased expert assessor. You are notified, whether you will be passed for assessment.

The assessor will assess the qualifications and experience of the shortlisted applicants with respect to the above mentioned research area, techniques, skills and other requirements. The assessor will conclude whether each applicant is qualified. The assessed applicants will have the opportunity to comment on their assessment. You can read about the recruitment process at

For specific information about the PhD fellowship, please contact the principal supervisor.

General information about PhD study at the Faculty of SCIENCE is available at the PhD School’s website:

The University of Copenhagen wishes to reflect the surrounding community and invites all, regardless of personal background, to apply for the position. 


Part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and among Europe’s top-ranking universities, the University of Copenhagen promotes research and teaching of the highest international standard. Rich in tradition and modern in outlook, the University gives students and staff the opportunity to cultivate their talent in an ambitious and informal environment. An effective organisation – with good working conditions and a collaborative work culture – creates the ideal framework for a successful academic career.


Ourania Gouseti


Application deadline: 10-04-2023
Employment start: 01-09-2023
Working hours: Full time
Department/Location: FOOD
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