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A multi-modal approach to deep phenotyping frailty

   School of Life Sciences

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  Prof P Greenhaff, Prof John Gladman, Dr S Francis  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Frailty is a significant challenge to ageing individuals, of central importance to well-being and a widely accepted public health problem. Despite this acceptance, major gaps exist in our understanding of the processes that contribute to the clinical phenotype and the progression into frailty.

Outline of project
This PhD project will combine state-of-the art magnetic resonance imaging and stable isotope tracer techniques to characterise the pathophysiology of frailty from pre-frail > frail > hyper-frail. It will involve in vivo MR based quantification of brain architecture and regional and whole-body muscle and fat volumes, alongside magnetic resonance based dynamic measures of brain perfusion and cardiac output, and stable isotope quantification of chronic muscle protein synthesis and immune function in pre-frail, frail and hyper-frail people. These measurements will be dovetailed with accepted measures of cognitive and functional ability, including mobility. This approach will provide powerful multi-disciplinary insight of the frail phenotype and also catalyse new research focused on interventions to stimulate positive adaptation in these populations.

The supervisory team (Professors Philip Atherton, Susan Francis, John Gladman, Penny Gowland, and Paul Greenhaff from the University of Nottingham, and Professor Janet Lord, Dr Caroline Greig and Thomas Jackson from the University of Birmingham) has the breadth and depth of clinical and scientific skills and expertise to successfully deliver this exciting and timely project, and we are looking to recruit a highly motivated PhD student

The project will be primarily based at the University of Nottingham but the student will spend time interacting with team member at the University of Birmingham, including time undertaking analysis of immune function in the laboratory of Professor Lord. The student will benefit from working within an established MRC-ARUK Centre for Musculoskeletal Ageing research team. They will join our Centre for Doctoral Training in Musculoskeletal Ageing Research and will be able to undertake modules of direct relevance to this project, e.g. NMR imaging, fMRI acquisition and data analysis, and metabolism. The student will also be able to undertake training in research methods, good clinical practice, ethics, benefitting from our Graduate School Researcher Development Programme and University of Nottingham courses, e.g. leadership, management and teaching. Students are encouraged to present their work at international conferences and submit it for publication.

Person Specification

Applicants will have a strong background in physics and/or physiology and/or biochemistry (with at least an upper second-class honours degree classification), and ideally an MSc in a relevant discipline.
Candidates should have excellent quantitative skills.

This studentship is full-time and will begin on 1st of October 2019

Funding Notes

To be eligible for a full award, a student must have no restrictions on how long they can stay in the UK and have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the studentship. Students from EU countries other than the UK are generally eligible for a fees-only award.
To be eligible for a fees-only award, a student must be ordinarily resident in a member state of the EU; in the same way as UK students must be ordinarily resident in the UK. Further information on eligibility is available online -

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