Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) is a heterogeneous disease of unknown aetiology and pathogenesis. There is no effective therapeutic strategy currently available for patients with this disease. This porject will augment the forthcoming FMT clinical trial.

The Team

The PIs for this project are Dr Penny Powell, Senior Lecturer in Cell and Molecular Virology and FMH Associate Dean PGR, Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia
Professor Simon Carding, Group Leader, Quadram Institute Bioscience, Norwich

Project Description

This 3 year PhD position is an opportunity to work across research groups at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Quadram Institute (QI) in Norwich Research Park (NRP) and at Uppsala University in Sweden.
The project is to investigate whether bacteriotherapy and manipulation of the gut microbiome can provide a possible treatment for ME/CFS, a disease associated with chronic fatigue, gut disorders and neuro-inflammation.
A mechanistic insight into the causes involving alterations in the structure and function of the gut microbiota, and in particular its’ viral component (the virome), will be investigated using a clinical feasibility trail of faecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) therapy in ME/CFS.
The aim of this PhD project therefore to is to determine the impact FMT has on the intestinal virome and on host viral immune responses in parallel with clinical outcomes in ME/CFS patients undergoing FMT.

The project will involve microbiome and virome profiling and functionality, and pathogen discovery through bioinformatics analysis.
In addition, in Uppsala patient samples will be used for metabolomic analysis and assessing the function of the transplanted microbiota.
The outcome of the treatment will be assessed clinically through cognitive function and activity monitoring tests.

Working within our cross-disciplinary team, the successful applicant will learn a range of lab-based, clinical and bioinformatics techniques.
They will be exposed to a vibrant community of postgraduate research students in the UEA faculty of medicine and health sciences and at QI, with shared commitment to research and good mutual co-operation between groups.
They will undertake Personal and Professional Development (PPD) training offered by Norwich BioScience Institutes, including advanced research training methods and core subjects related to this project through seminars/workshops/lectures.


Funding is via Invest in ME Research and University of East Anglia.

How Does This Align With IiMER Objectives/What is the Justification for Project

The aim of Invest in ME Research is to bring forward a logical basis for treatment of ME based on ‘solid’ biomedical-based research and this project fulfills that brief.


  • i) Newberry F, Hsieh SY, Wileman T, Carding SR (2018) Does the microbiome and virome contribute to myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome? Clin Sci (Lond). 2018 Mar 9;132(5):523-542.

  • ii) Cairns R, Hotopf M. (2005) A systematic review describing the prognosis of chronic fatigue syndrome. Occup Med (Lond). 55(1):20-31

  • iii) Carding S, Verbeke K, Vipond DT, Corfe BM, Owen LJ.2015 Dysbiosis of the gut microbiota in disease. Microb Ecol Health Dis.;26:2619

Last Update 10/07/2020