The Wellcome Trust funded four-year PhD programme in science​






EDESIA: The Roman goddess of food and feasting who emphasises the good things we get from our diets.

The EDESIA: Plants, Food and Health PhD programme is funded by The Wellcome Trust to advance major aspects of plant-based nutrition and health, from crop to clinic.  The programme draws on the world-class, interdisciplinary research expertise of the Norwich Research Park (UEA, John Innes Centre, Quadram Institute Bioscience and Earlham Institute).

The EDESIA programme combines scientific excellence with a commitment to improving the working environment and transition support towards future employment for trainees.  The single geographical location of our partnership provides doctoral researchers with access to an exceptionally wide range of expertise and facilities for research into plant-based food and health, including:

  • Metabolic engineering of plants which enhance or optimize concentrations of specific nutrients

  • State of the art approaches to breeding and genome editing of crops

  • The function of the gut microbiome in the absorption of plant-based foods and their further metabolism by human tissues

  • Use of the latest ‘omics’ technologies to measure changes in metabolism and gene expression

  • Biochemical, genetic, cell biological and functional analysis of plant metabolites

  • in vitro analysis of the biological activity of key metabolites in model tissues and cell cultures

  • Investigation of mechanisms of action in animal models of disease

  • Innovative approaches to bioinformatics, mathematical biology and metagenomics

  • Complex statistical analyses of large prospective cohort datasets

  • Human intervention studies


Plants, Food and Health

Nutrition and the reduction in risk of ill health is centre stage globally and food represents one of the greatest health and environmental challenges of the 21st century.  The recent EAT-Lancet commission report stressed the urgent need to focus on high plant food diets, calculating that the adoption of such a diet would prevent 11 million deaths per year.

Through a four-year, rotation-based PhD, EDESIA students will have the opportunity to train in a wide range of disciplines across the translational pathway of nutrition research, ranging from plant science and the mechanistic understanding of nutrition, to clinical trials, population-based studies and public health.

This cross-disciplinary programme is open to candidates with an undergraduate degree in any scientific subject of relevance to the scope of the programme. We wish to build a diverse and inclusive student cohort and are looking for candidates who will make a strong contribution to the EDESIA community of researchers. We highly value curiosity, ability, independence, and the commitment to work across disciplines to deliver high-impact research.


EDESIA: Plants, Food and Health expects to offer 5 studentships to successful candidates for entry in October 2024.  Studentships include support for:

  • A generous maintenance stipend, provided over four years, and funded according to the Wellcome stipend scale

  • Tuition fees at Home level - in addition, EDESIA will award up to 2 full studentships a year covering international fees for successful international candidates

  • Research expenses for rotation and PhD project costs

  • Funding for travel, including international collaborations and conferences

  • Transferable skills training

  • Funding to support career transitions following the submission of the PhD thesis, within or beyond academia

Further information on Wellcome PhD studentships can be found on their website.

Eligibility and Applications

Applicants should fulfil the University’s entry requirements for PhD registration and should have, or expect to obtain, a minimum of Upper Second Class UK Honours Degree or equivalent. Applicants with a Lower Second-class degree will be considered if they also have a Master’s degree, or have significant research or non-academic experience relevant to the proposed field of research. Studentships awarded based on predicted grades will be conditional upon final results.

Before admission candidates must also meet the University’s minimum English language requirements for Science/Medicine and Health research degree programmes.

Applications are welcomed for entry in October 2024 and should be made via the University’s online application form for postgraduate research degrees. You will be applying for ‘A professional doctorate or PhD rotation programme’ and ‘EDESIA Wellcome 4 year PhD Programme’.

Applications are made to the programme, and not to an individual project.

Applications for October 2024 entry will be open from 18th September 2023, application deadline midnight on 29 November 2023.


Frequently Asked Questions


Programme Directors

Professor Ian Clark

Professor Cathie Martin

Read about the experience of
our first cohort of students

Find Out More About
Our Supervisors