PhD Candidate Position

The University of Saskatchewan Toxicology Group and the Ghent University Center for Microbiology Ecology and Technology are searching for a PhD Candidate interested in studying the interaction between pollutants, metals and the human intestine to help set remediation objectives.

The University of Saskatchewan Toxicology Group and the Ghent University Center for Microbiology Ecology and Technology are searching for a PhD Candidate interested in studying the interaction between pollutants, metals and the human intestine to help set remediation objectives. A primary concern at downstream hydrocarbon sites is human ingestion of contaminants, either from groundwater or from adhered soil. Regulators assume 100% bioavailability, or in other words, that all of the ingested pollutant reaches the site of toxic action. This assumption is widely acknowledged as being too conservative, but orally ingested polyaromatic hydrocarbons have been shown to have bioavailability ranging between 6% and 100%, depending on the type of polyaromatic hydrocarbons, dose, vehicle, and animal species. It is difficult to a priori estimate bioavailability at a contaminated site, and thus regulators assume that the exposure to humans from contaminated groundwater is equal to the total chemical present in the groundwater. However, it is possible that only fraction of this pollutant is accessible to humans (i.e., bioaccessible) and that only a fraction of the pollutant that is bioaccessible actually reaches systemic circulation. 

The successful candidate will use advanced in vitro digestors, 3-dimensional cell culture approaches and gene expression assays to address a series of linked question: (i) Does bioaccessibility of pollutants in groundwater change throughout the year? If so, what predicts these differences?, (ii)  What water parameters influence in vitro bioavailability of differing groundwaters?, and (iii) Does dissolved metal concentrations in groundwater influence bioavailability through specific pathways?  Students may receive their PhD from either the Toxicology Program at the University of Saskatchewan or in Applied Biological Science Ghent University, but will be expected to split their time equally between both institutions.   

Interested candidates are invited to contact Tom Van de Wiele, Tom.VandeWiele@UGent.be, or Steven Siciliano,steven.siciliano@usask.ca, with a brief resume and unofficial transcripts.