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A real-time molecular epidemiological investigation into the contribution of fungal spores to seasonal asthma spikes

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  • Full or part time
    Prof A Hansell
    Dr C Pashley
    Dr E Marczylo
    Prof A Elliot
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

This is a Medical Research Council (MRC) Toxicology Unit Integrative Toxicology Training Partnership (ITTP) Capacity Building studentship. Asthma is a common long-term lung disease associated with avoidable complications, deaths and substantial costs to the NHS and society. While there is a lot of research on the pollen and asthma, around 37% of asthma sufferers also report that fungi can trigger or worsen their symptoms. Different fungi release their spores into the air at different times of the year, generating seasonal fluctuations, but the impact of this on asthma exacerbations is unknown. This multidisciplinary project will first involve laboratory sequencing and quantitative PCR techniques to identify key fungal species in air. These will then be related in statistical analyses to health data on General Practice and Hospital visits for asthma in the same region as the air sampling. The project will lead to important advances in knowledge about the role fungi play in asthma as well as the different types of fungi present in the air at different times of the year. The student will develop expertise in the critical appraisal of scientific literature, microscopy, molecular biology (in particular microbial metagenomics by NGS & qPCR), toxicology, realtime syndromic surveillance and epidemiology, human cohorts, and in vitro assays

As an ITTP studentship, the student will participate in MRC Toxicology PhD student training as well as being part of the University of Leicester training programme and benefit from Public Health England (PHE) PhD student training. The studentship will be based at the Centre for Environmental Health and Sustainability at the University of Leicester, the PHE Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental hazards (CRCE) on the Harwell campus in Didcot and will also involve a short-term placement at the PHE real-time syndromic surveillance unit in Birmingham.

Entry requirements:

Applicants are required to have a background in one or more of the following areas: molecular biology, genomics, bioinformatics, epidemiology, biology/biochemistry with a UK Bachelor Degree 2:1 or better, and preferably also a similar MSc qualification, or similar and will be expected to have good statistical analysis skills. The University of Leicester English language requirements apply where applicable: https://le.ac.uk/study/researchdegrees/entry-reqs/eng-lang-reqs

How to apply:

You should submit your application using our online application system (https://www2.le.ac.uk/research-degrees/phd/applyphd). Apply for a PhD in Health Sciences In the funding section of the application please indicate you wish to be considered for an ITTP Studentship In the proposal section please provide the name of the supervisor and project you want to be considered for.

Funding Notes

Medical Research Council (MRC) Toxicology Unit Integrative Toxicology Training Partnership (ITTP) Capacity Building studentship
The funding will provide a tuition fee waiver at UK/EU rates and a stipend of £15,009 per annum

Project / Funding Enquiries:
Anna Hansell ([Email Address Removed]), University of Leicester
Emma Marczylo ([Email Address Removed] ), Public Health England
Application enquiries to [Email Address Removed]
Closing date for applications 24 April 2019

References

Pashley CH et al (2012). DNA analysis of outdoor air reveals a high degree of fungal diversity, temporal variability, and genera not seen by spore morphology. Fungal Biology, 116(2):214-24. 2. Tonge DP et al (2014). Amplicon-based metagenomic analysis of mixed fungal samples using proton release amplicon sequencing. PLoS One, 9(4):e93849. 3. de Lusignan S et al. Conurbation, Urban, and Rural Living as Determinants of Allergies and Infectious Diseases: Royal College of General Practitioners Research and Surveillance Centre Annual Report 2016-2017. JMIR Public Health Surveill. 2018 Nov 26;4(4):e11354.



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