PhD position OT-21959

Ph-D offer: What is the role of a food additive identified as a nanomaterial on the development of food allergy?


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INRAE presentation

The French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food, and Environment (INRAE) is a major player in research and innovation. It is a community of 12,000 people with 272 research, experimental research, and support units located in 18 regional centres throughout France. Internationally, INRAE is among the top research organisations in the agricultural and food sciences, plant and animal sciences, as well as in ecology and environmental science. It is the world’s leading research organisation specialising in agriculture, food and the environment. INRAE’s goal is to be a key player in the transitions necessary to address major global challenges. Faced with a growing world population, climate change, resource scarcity, and declining biodiversity, the Institute has a major role to play in building solutions and supporting the necessary acceleration of agricultural, food and environmental transitions.

Work environment, missions and activities

¡ You will be mainly welcomed in the Team allergy at INRAE Nantes ( and times to times at Institut des Matériaux Jean Rouxel (University of Nantes,

¡ The subject is related to food allergy: higher consumption of ultra-processed foods has been associated with a greater risk of overall cancer and inflammatory bowel disease. Among chronic non-communicable diseases, food allergies currently affect around 10% of the population in industrialized countries. The frequency and severity of food allergies have significantly increased over the past 20 years. They coincide with the increase in the consumption of ultra-processed foods, typical of a Western diet, and which include food additives. Some of these additives are classified as nanomaterials, i.e. containing nanoparticles with at least one dimension less than 100 nm and for which health agencies exercise increased monitoring. Our hypothesis is that they could participate in the sensitisation to allergens.

¡ This thesis thus aims at investigating this hypothesis for one of these food additives. In particular, the candidate will examine two proposed mechanisms. He/She will analyse the impact of the food additive on the digestion of the allergen, the impact on the food additive on the reactivity of human sera of allergic patients and the impact of the chronic exposure to the food additive on the development of food allergy. The technics involved in this thesis are (not exhaustive): ELISA, SDS-PAGE, Western Blot, Flow cytometry, mass spectrometry, cell culture, animal facility, histology, Ussing chamber, Raman spectrometry, FT-IR, X-ray diffraction. The candidate will be accompanied when these technics did not belong in his/her background.

¡ Special conditions of activity: 1) animal facility requires work constraints during some week-ends, shared between team members and doctorates. 2) According to the contract with co-funder, the candidate will be asked to perform actions in favour of the dissemination of science (Fête de la science, Ma thèse en 180 secondes, radio program…). 3) You will be enrolled in a doctorate degree program to complete a certain number of credits in coursework before the defense.

Training and skills

Master's degree/Engineering degree

¡ Recommended training: Master (M2) or engineer diploma in life sciences, in particular immunology or related fields.

¡ Knowledge required: Strong interest for research and the question of research. Exhibit an interdisciplinary mindset, as the research involves navigating the intersections of immunology, physical chemistry and biochemistry. Ability to communicate in English both orally and in writing. French is not required but it is strongly advised to learn basics during the first year. 

¡ Appreciated experience: animal protocol, quantification of immune biomarkers, flow cytometry, histology

¡ Skills sought: He/She will ideally possess a combination of educational background, research experience, and skills relevant to immunology and biochemistry. Strong written and oral communication skills, ability to communicate to both academic and non-academic audiences. Familiarity with animal protocol and statistics are welcome. The candidate should ideally align with the multidisciplinary nature of the research topic (immunology, biochemistry, physical chemistry).

Ability to communicate in English both orally and in writing. French is not required but it is strongly advised to learn basics during the first year.

INRAE's life quality

By joining our teams, you benefit from (depending on the type of contract and its duration):

- up to 30 days of annual leave + 15 days "Reduction of Working Time" (for a full time);
parenting support: CESU childcare, leisure services;
- skills development systems: trainingcareer advise;
social support: advice and listening, social assistance and loans;
holiday and leisure services: holiday vouchers, accommodation at preferential rates;
sports and cultural activities;
- collective catering.

How to apply

Send your application with the following requirements:

- A letter of motivation explaining why you want to do a PH-D and in what the subject is of interest for you

- Letters of reference: at least one from one of your supervisors in practices (M1 and M2, or equivalents)

- A copy of your marks in M1 or equivalent (Master diploma or equivalent to be provided in June).

- Please indicate “Candidate for the Ph-D offer” in the subject of your e-mail.

Offer reference

  • Contract: PhD position
  • Duration: 36 month
  • Beginning: 01/10/2024
  • Remuneration: between 2100€ and 2300€ /Month
  • Reference: OT-21959
  • Deadline: 31/05/2024
Centre Pays de la Loire

Biopolymères, Interactions et assemblages de Nantes (BIA) NANTES


ROPERS Marie-Hélène
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