PhD Studentship

Exploring the anti-ageing and neuroprotective properties of edible essential oils: a bi-model approach

The usage of non-pharmaceutical supplements such as functional foods has demonstrated to improve healthy ageing as well as reducing disease risk. Essential oils are alternatives to functional foods and are considered a group of secondary metabolites which are obtained from various aromatic plant sources including flowers, leaves, rhizomes, seeds, fruits, wood, and bark. Our preliminary data suggests that supplementation of peppermint or cannabidiol oil in healthy adults improved cardiometabolic health benefits. Following this, we would like to assess other essential oils to better understand their mechanism of action.


We aim to evaluate various edible essential oils on healthy ageing, specifically cardio-metabolic and neuroprotective health on the (a) free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans which has emerged as a powerful model system for studying health and disease followed up by (b) human clinical trials of which there is a paucity of studies.

Rationale & Objectives

Invertebrates, such as C. elegans, have emerged as models for studying healthy ageing, since they are ideal for the rapid identification of molecular pathways relevant in biology.

  • A range of tests will be performed in C. elegans with a variety of edible essential oils to determine which provide the most improved healthy ageing effect through increasing lifespan, locomotion as well as protection from oxidative stress.
  • We will undertake a human randomised control trial supplementing with the candidates that provided the greatest health benefits in the C. elegans studies to examine markers of cardio-metabolic and neuroprotective health.

Contribution to knowledge

Establishing the potential health benefit of supplementing with essential oils, provides an opportunity to help prevent disease rather than relying on directly treating diseases per se. Understanding the potential pathways would allow for more targeted applications of essential oils and the identification of optimised supplementation strategies.

Applicant requirements 

Applicants must have a UK good honours degree (First-Class Honours or Upper Second-Class Honours) in a relevant field or equivalent and additionally an appropriate Masters qualification would be beneficial.

Interviews will start soon after the closing date.

Studentship start date: September 2023

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