Environmental Health Sciences

For healthy future.

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Přijímací řízení do doktorských programů - akad.rok 2020/2021 (zahájení: jaro 2021)
Submission deadline until midnight 30 Nov 2020

What will you learn?

The programme integrates PhD topics of environmental chemistry, toxicology and risk assessment with related problems of analysis and modelling of big data produced in current research of environmental factors affecting health. The objective is to support independent development of young researchers that contribute to understanding of fundamental processes of chemical effects on health and ecosystems, considering the context of other external „exposome“ factors . The programme aims to prepare interdisciplinary independent personalities that are able – in addition to excellent knowledge in specific research topic - to understand practical use of their own research outputs. The programme will prepare graduates with outstanding profiles for both national and international labour market. The graduates have broad experiences with active communication in English (that is practiced during all study), carry other transferable skills and competencies learned through practical addressing of specific problems as well as own preparation and running of small projects.

PROGRAMME STRUCTURE: Programme is being prepared in both Czech and English versions. Czech programme is being administered in Czech language but even within this version, one of the objectives is strengthening of international competitiveness, which is supported by education and lectures in English. Studies are organized in two Specializations, where the differences are defined in requirements for theoretical State Doctoral Exam. Studies are available in presence form (which si the preferred variant) or combined form (offered to students that continue towards the defence of PhD after standard 4 years of studies, or – exceptionally – to external students). The combined form differs mainly in requirements on periodic weekly duties (such as seminars) and duties related to pedagogical competencies (contributions to education).

Practical training

Within dissertation projects students practically work on their own research projects and use various approaches depending on the focus of their works (laboratory experiments, field studies, analyses of samples and data from cohort environmental epidemiology studies, programming and development of techniques of data modelling). A part of the study duties is the practical stay abroad or other form of international practical training.

Further information

http://www.recetox.muni.cz/

Career opportunities

Graduates will be able to successfully work within national and international set up at institutions and universities running research programmes on chemical contamination and other environmental factors affecting ecosystems and human health, including related fields of big data analyses, mathematical biology, bioinformatics and biomedicine. In addition to research, graduates may aim to institutions involved in safety assessment and control of various environmental matrices, food safety and risk assessment. Graduates of the programme may also actively work in the organizations controlling chemical risks, in laboratories or research departments of innovative biotechnological enterprises, in companies focusing on environmental technologies including bioremediations or in the regional or governmental authorities.

Admission requirements

Qualities of the candidates are checked during interview (can be online e.g. via skype). Committee assesses expertise and motivation for independent scientific work (0-200 points) and ability to communicate in English (0-100 points). Successful candidate must have minimum 120 points for the expert part and minimum 60 points for the English language check. Expert part requirements: Discussion on broader topics of the Environmental Health Sciences considering future specialization (Environmental chemistry and toxicology; Computational biology, modeling) Language part equirements: Communication skills – interview in English.

Criteria for evaluation

No information available

Application guide

Deadlines

1 Aug – 30 Nov 2020

Submit your application during this period

Submit an application

Study options

Single-subject studies with specialization

In the single-subject studies, the student deepens knowledge in the concrete focus of the degree programme and chooses one specialization. The specialization is stated in the university diploma.

Supervisors and dissertation topics

Supervisors

Dissertation topics

Specialization: Computational biology, bioinformatics and modelling

No topics currently listed.

Specialization: Environmental chemistry and toxicology

Adverse Outcome Pathways and mechanistic toxicology of emerging chemicals and their mixtures

Supervisor: prof. RNDr. Luděk Bláha, Ph.D.

OBJECTIVES: The research aims to explore mechanisms (molecular toxicology, biomarkers of effects, toxicogenomic responses) triggered in humans and natural biota by organic pollutants, their metabolites and mixtures. The outcomes contribute to protection of the environment and health by providing scientific evidence and support to pragmatic risk assessment and management of chemicals.

FOCUS: Doctoral research projects focus on the effects of chemical groups that are broadly used in practice but their (eco)toxicological characterization is poor such as novel types of flame retardants, pharmaceuticals, pesticides and other potential endocrine-disrupters. Students benefit from outstanding research facilities of RECETOX that include high-end analytical instrumentations, molecular toxicology laboratories, alternative toxicological models - aquatic invertebrates and zebrafish.

EXAMPLES of potential student doctoral projects:
* Development of quantitative Adverse Outcome Pathways (AOPs) for liver toxicity and obesogenicity
* AOP networks beyond the male reproductive disorders
* In vitro toxicological investigations of novel flame retardants
* Molecular and biochemical effect biomarkers of low-dose mixture exposures in human cohort samples
* Automated text-mining approaches integrating toxicological data to toxicological knowledge

MORE INFORMATION: www.recetox.muni.cz

PLEASE NOTE: before initiating the formal application process to doctoral studies, all interested candidates are required to contact Prof. Ludek Blaha (blaha@sci.muni.cz) for informal discussion.
Assessment of external and internal exposure to chemicals in human population

Supervisor: doc. RNDr. Pavel Čupr, Ph.D.

Interní a externí expozice stanovená pomocí lidského biomonitoringu poskytuje vhodné podklady pro posuzování souvislostí mezi samotnou expozicí a efektových biomarkery účinku v lidské populaci. Práce bude zaměřena na problematiku studia a využití metod hodnocení interní a externí expozice člověka chemickým látkám. Bude se jednat například o biomarkery poškození DNA na vzorcích buněk periferní krve in vivo a také využití dalších biomarkerů efektu. Navazujícím směrem bude také in vitro toxikologické hodnocení pomocí lidských kmenových buněk vybraných kontaminantů pro hodnocení jejich případných zdravotních rizik. Detaily o tomto Ph.D. projektu budou sděleny při konzultaci - doc. RNDr. Pavel Čupr, Ph.D. Před výběrem tématu mne prosím kontaktujte: pavel.cupr@recetox.muni.cz.

Comprehensive investigation of indoor chemical exposures

Supervisor: Lisa Emily Melymuk, Ph.D.

There is a complex mix of chemicals in all indoor environments, and these are important sources of chemical exposure to humans. This project will screen indoor environmental data (air, dust, consumer products) to assess the mixture of chemicals in residential and other indoor environments, and synthesize data from different geographic regions and types of environments to determine key sources of variability, the impact of differing chemical regulations, and prioritize which compounds we should be focusing on for further risk analysis and toxicity evaluation. The project comprises review of current international data combined with suspect screening of new indoor samples to profile the chemical mix indoors, followed by prioritization of the identified chemicals according to regulations, levels and hazard.

Development of the gut microbiome in early childhood

Supervisor: prof. MUDr. Vojtěch Thon, Ph.D.

ÚVOD: Složení střevního mikrobiomu má zásadní vliv na zdraví člověka. Důležitým faktorem rovnováhy nebo dysbalance, podílející se na vzniku mnoha autoimunitních a chronických onemocnění, je vývoj mikrobiomu po narození, kdy dochází k interakcím a ovlivňování vývoje imunitního systému.


CÍLE: Cílem dizertační práce je hodnocení vlivu průběhu porodu a výživy na vývoj střevního mikrobiomu, dále studium vlivu vakcinace a léků na vývoj střevního mikrobiomu a korelace vývoje střevního mikrobiomu a zdraví dítěte. Student si osvojí práci s nejnovějšími technikami, jako je sekvenování nové generace a qPCR.


PLEASE NOTE: Before initiating the formal application process to doctoral studies, all interested candidates are asked to contact supervisors - Dr. Petra Videnska (petra.videnska@recetox.muni.cz) or prof. Vojtech Thon (vojtech.thon@recetox.muni.cz) for informal discussion and assessment.

Effects of aerial humidity on optical properties of aerosol particles

Supervisor: prof. RNDr. Ivan Holoubek, CSc.

[Project will run at Institutes of Academy of the Czech Republic - CzechGlobe and ICPF.CAS.CZ. Before any formal application, candidates are required to contact directly supervisors - prof. Ivan Holoubek - ivan.holoubek@recetox.muni.cz and/or Dr. Ing. Vladimír Ždímal - zdimal@icpf.cas.cz].
Hygroskopicita aerosolových částic je jejich schopnost na sebe vázat vzdušnou vlhkost. Tím se mění jejich tvar, rozměr a fázové chování. Hygroskopicita má vliv na schopnost částic stát se kondenzačními jádry oblačných kapek, na jejich optické vlastnosti, na globální změny klimatu i na lidské zdraví. Tento takzvané nepřímý vliv aerosolů na klima, spojený se schopností částic modulovat vznik oblaků a jejich albedo, představuje největší nejistotu v současných klimatických modelech. Cílem tohoto projektu je studovat hygroskopicitu aerosolových částic v laboratoři i v atmosféře a hledat vztah mezi chemickým složením částic, relativní vlhkostí a optickými vlastnostmi suchých a vlhkých částic. V laboratoři budou generovány aerosolové částice známého složení tvořené z látek běžně se vyskytujících v atmosférickém aerosolu a jejich hygroskopicita bude studována pomocí spektrometru HTDMA. Na Národní atmosférické observatoři Košetice budou odebírány vzorky aerosolu do několika spektrometrů. Na spektrometrech SMPS a APS budou stanovena rozdělení velikosti částic. Chemické složení částic bude stanoveno spektrometry c-TOF-AMS a TOF-ACSM, On-Line XRF, OC/OC. Hygroskopicita bude studována pomocí CCN a HTDMA. Výsledky experimentů budou porovnány s modelovými předpověďmi.

Endocrine disrupting potential of relevant exposure mixtures and prioritized pollutants

Supervisor: doc. Mgr. Klára Hilscherová, Ph.D.

OBJECTIVES: The overall research goal is to develop efficient approaches for the characterization of specific toxic potentials of complex exposure mixtures that organisms including human are exposed to in the environment. This refers to the realistic exposure scenarios with possible joint action of a wide spectra of pollutants. The research aims namely on the ability of pollutants to interfere with hormonal regulation (endocrine disruption) and the role of this disruption in adverse effects, especially on the early (neuro)development and reproduction. The outcomes will help to prioritize the toxicity risk drivers, characterize the joint action of co-occurring chemicals and relationship of the mixture exposure with adverse effects in exposed organisms including human. This will provide scientific basis for effective risk and regulatory assessment and management of relevant exposure mixtures and chemical risk drivers and thus contribute to environmental and human health protection.

FOCUS: The doctoral research projects focus on development and implementation of diagnostic and predictive effect-based methods (in vitro, in silico) for the characterization of potential impact of internal and external exposure mixtures on environmental and human health and associated risks. This includes description of relevant exposure mixtures effects on key processes in hormonal regulation affecting early (neuro)development and reproduction in organisms. Adverse outcome pathways concept will be employed to relate the in vitro/in silico assessed endocrine disrupting potential with diagnostic approaches on the level of effect biomarkers or omics methods linking the mechanisms of action with these disorders. The projects will focus namely on the development and optimization of a battery of high-throughput bioassays covering wide range of modes of action relevant for neurodevelopment or endocrine disruption, and characterization of the endocrine disrupting potential of complex environmental exposure and effect-driver identification by a combination of progressive bioanalytical, molecular biology and non-/target high-resolution mass spectrometry methods.

EXAMPLES of potential student doctoral projects:

(1) Endocrine disrupting pollutants able to interfere with early development

(2) Adverse outcome pathways-based approaches in human exposure and epidemiological studies

(3) Human cell-based bioanalytical approaches for the assessment of endocrine disruptive potential including 2D and 3D-in vitro systems

(4) Assessment of biomarkers of endocrine disruption in biological matrices using advanced analytical methods and their relation to exposure

MORE INFORMATION: www.recetox.muni.cz

PLEASE NOTE: before initiating the formal application process to doctoral studies, all interested candidates are recommended to contact Assoc.Prof. Klára Hilscherová (hilscherova@recetox.muni.cz) for informal discussion and more information on the PhD studies and research topics.

inking retinoid and thyroid hormone signaling disruption with adverse effects on early development

Supervisor: doc. Mgr. Klára Hilscherová, Ph.D.

This PhD project will focus on (1) characterization of the relation of endocrine disruption via interference with retinoid and thyroid hormone signaling with adverse effects of pollutants on early development (developmental and embryonal toxicity, altered growth or behavior in fish embryo model); (2) exploring the role of selected nuclear receptors signaling in the relevant adverse outcome pathways of prioritized environmental toxicants and mixtures by in vitro and omics-based approaches. The ESR will be employed and enrolled in the doctoral programme of Environmental Health at Masaryk University, Czech Republic. International collaborations and secondments are foreseen namely with Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VUA), Netherlands and DuPont Nutrition& Biosciences, Denmark.

The Early Stage Researcher (PhD Student) will work within PRORISK (www.prorisk-itn.eu), which is a European Training Network funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 859891. The consortium comprises of 18 universities, research institutions, enterprises and partner organisations in 9 European countries and Canada creating a novel platform for training a network of Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) in the field of advanced Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA). Research and training provided through PhD study, PRORISK training programme and secondments in international multidisciplinary intersectoral teams in academia, industry and regulatory bodies will enable ESRs to address exposure, ecotoxicology, ecosystem services, as well as assessment and modelling of risks and socio-economic impacts. The ESRs within PRORISK will gain synthetic skills allowing them to develop and implement innovative ERA concepts and tools to link the effects of chemicals at different levels of biological organization to ecosystem services and to determine the socio-economic values of related environmental impacts.

For further information about the scientific content please contact the principle supervisor: Assoc. Prof. Klara Hilscherova (klara.hilscherova@recetox.muni.cz).

Innovative UV-LED applications to drinking water and wastewater treatment systems

Supervisor: prof. RNDr. Luděk Bláha, Ph.D.

OBJECTIVE: This PhD project is a part of international (Japan-Germany-Czech) initiative that aims to assess applicability of highly innovative and sustainable technology (UV LED system) for chemical-free and efficient water treatment. The actual treatments systems will be operated in the field (including waterworks, community water supply systems, wastewater treatment facilities and industrial applications). Role of RECETOX will be to implement and use toxicological effect-based tools (biological assays) for the assessment of the system performance.

PLEASE NOTE: before initiating the formal application process to doctoral studies, all interested candidates are required to contact Prof. Ludek Blaha (blaha@sci.muni.cz) for informal discussion.

Investigating emissions of emerging aquatic contaminants via municipal waste waters

Supervisor: doc. Ing. Branislav Vrana, PhD.

Municipal wastewater is the primary pathway by which many manmade potentially harmful chemicals find their way into the aquatic environment. The aim of the PhD thesis will be to investigate the fate of a selected emerging compound group, causing potential risk to aquatic environment, from the emission source in urban areas via the wastewater treatment process to the recipient freshwater bodies. Note that Potential candidates are requested to send a motivation letter and CV to the supervisor (branislav.vrana@recetox.muni.cz) before starting the formal application process.

Linking metabolic and reproduction disruptions after exposures to novel flame retardants

Supervisor: prof. RNDr. Luděk Bláha, Ph.D.

This PhD project will focus on characterization of mechanisms of action and biological effects of novel classes of flame retardants (FRs) and establishing Adverse Outcome Pathway (AOP) network linking metabolic disruption caused by FRs with reproduction outcomes. The project is expected to primarily combine in vitro research with fish embryo model experiments.

Student (Early Stage Researcher - ESR) will work within the PRORISK network (www.prorisk-itn.eu). PRORISK is a European Training Network funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 859891. The consortium comprises of 18 universities, research institutions, enterprises and partner organisations in 9 European countries and Canada creating a novel platform for training a network of Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) in the field of advanced Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA). Research and training provided through PhD study, PRORISK training programme and secondments in international multidisciplinary intersectoral teams in academia, industry and regulatory bodies will enable ESRs to address exposure, ecotoxicology, ecosystem services, as well as assessment and modelling of risks and socio-economic impacts. The ESRs within PRORISK will gain synthetic skills allowing them to develop and implement innovative ERA concepts and tools to link the effects of chemicals at different levels of biological organization to ecosystem services and to determine the socio-economic values of related environmental impacts.

The ESR will be employed and enrolled in the doctoral programme of Environmental Health at Masaryk University, Czech Republic. International collaborations and secondments are foreseen namely with Association of River Water Supply Companies (RIWA), Netherlands and Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA), Norway.

For further information about the scientific content please contact the principle supervisor: Prof. Ludek Blaha (ludek.blaha@recetox.muni.cz).

Research of potential exposure to chemicals in urban exposome

Supervisor: doc. RNDr. Pavel Čupr, Ph.D.

Hlavním cílem tohoto výzkumného zaměření je využití nástrojů analýzy možného vlivu expozice chemickým látkám v lidské populaci na zdraví a to v rámci konceptu urbánního exposomu (i). Tento výzkumný směr bude rozvíjen s využitím hodnocení dat v projektu URBAN_X a s využitím například dílčích kohort CELSPAC (CELSPAC-FIREexpo, CELSPAC-SPECIMEn), projektu SMURBS a CETOCOEN PLUS.

Geoprostorové hodnocení městských dat ve vztahu k lidskému zdraví v konceptu „Urban exposome“ bude v rámci tohoto výzkumného zaměření také realizováno v dalším Ph.D. projektu s využitím dat longitudinální kohortové studie ELSPAC (ii). Nejdůležitějšími skupinami proměnných budou například: kvalita ovzduší (koncentrace znečišťujících látek), dopravní zátěž, hluk, zeleň, dostupné vzdálenosti a případně socioekonomické souvislosti okolí.

Tento výzkumný směr bude také využívat potenciál personálních vzorkovačů při hodnocení externí expozice prachovým částicím v ovzduší (iii). V návaznosti na mezinárodní evropské studie bude využit personální vzorkovač polétavého prachu PM2,5 pro časový i prostorový záznam lidské expozice v urbánním prostředí (parky, vesnice, městská zástavba, dopravní prostředky, atd) s cílem provedení detailní analýzy zdravotních rizik.

Detaily o tomto výzkumném zaměření budou sděleny při konzultaci - doc. RNDr. Pavel Čupr, Ph.D. Před výběrem projektu mne prosím kontaktujte: pavel.cupr@recetox.muni.cz.
Structural and biochemical studies of engineered enzymes

Supervisor: Ing. RNDr. Martin Marek, Ph.D.

Project summary: Enzymes catalyse most of the chemical reactions that occur in biological systems and can be given non-natural catalytic functions by protein engineering. However, despite their vast importance, we do not know how enzymes acquire the structural diversity and conformational flexibility that enables them to evolve towards new molecular functions. Our proof-of-concept data on three structurally similar but functionally distinct enzyme classes of haloalkane dehalogenases (EC 3.8.1.5), beta-lactone decarboxylases (EC 4.1.1.114), and light-emitting monooxygenases (EC 1.13.12.5) suggest that as-yet-underexplored molecular elements – access tunnels and flexible loops – play a pivotal role in their functional diversification.

The proposed PhD project will investigate the molecular structures of these model enzymes using an innovative multi-method biology approach to identify the key structural and dynamic elements that govern enzymes’ evolvability. This project will combine X-ray crystallography, single-particle cryo-electron microscopy, and advanced mass spectrometry techniques to capture unprecedented molecular details of the conformational sampling that is required for productive enzymatic biocatalysis. Complementary protein simulations, mutational and biochemical experiments will delineate the evolutionary trajectories that lead to the emergence of novel enzymatic functions. The resulting knowledge will extend our understanding of molecular evolution beyond the current state-of-the-art, particularly by revealing how the conformational diversity of proteins is associated with specific biocatalytic functions. The gained knowledge from this PhD project will pave the way for the development of new theoretical concepts and cutting-edge software tools for the rational engineering of tailor-made biocatalysts exploitable in biotechnology and biomedicine.

PLEASE NOTE: Before starting formal application/admission process, all applicants are requested to contact supervisor (martin.marek@recetox.muni.cz).

Study information

Provided by Faculty of Science
Type of studies Doctoral
Mode full-time Yes
combined Yes
Study options single-subject studies No
single-subject studies with specialization Yes
major/minor studies No
Standard length of studies 4 years
Language of instruction Czech
Doctoral board and doctoral committees

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prof. RNDr. Luděk Bláha, Ph.D.

Consultant

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