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  Ageing to Arrhythmias

   Faculty of Biological Sciences

  ,  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Cardiac arrhythmias are a leading cause of sudden death and morbidity. This project aims to identify why they occur in the elderly and novel routes to therapies.

Common cardiac arrhythmias - when the heart starts to lose its coordinated rhythm, such as atrial fibrillation and sick sinus syndrome, result in poor overall function. The incidence of these increase as we get older. This is due to changes in the structure of the heart, but also the expression and properties of ion channels and their regulation. As a result, current treatments rely on implantation of artificial devices to pace the heart or drugs that modulate the ionic currents to try and restore normal rhythm. The elderly and frail though are not always suitable for the surgery associated with device implantation or tolerant of the current range of drugs available so in many cases treatment remains problematical and in the long-term associate with significant reductions in quality of life and increased risk of mortality. This project will investigate causes of arrhythmias in the elderly and attempt to identify novel mechanisms and targets for improved treatment of arrhythmias in this vulnerable population.

Using techniques such as single-cell electrophysiology, voltage mapping and computational modelling you will investigate changes occurring in differing regions of the heart during ageing leading to altered coupling between cells and electrical activity. Histology together with protein and RNA expression analysis will be used to map the changes occurring and produce a model of the alterations predisposing to dysfunction. The project will give you a grounding in numerous techniques with opportunity to tailor the project to your interests and strengths whether this be computational simulation of the tissue, molecular analysis of processes or function measures of cardiac performance.

The School of Biomedical Sciences invites applications from prospective postgraduate researchers who wish to commence study for a PhD in the academic year 2024/25.

The types of research undertaken within the school in this area can be seen here: Cardiovascular | Faculty of Biological Sciences | University of Leeds and here Physics of the Heart - Michael Colman This project has scope to use many of the techniques mentioned above but also illustrated on these sites. Recent work from PhD students in the lab has resulted in numerous publications such as these relevant ones here: and here:

Please note that this work is likely to use samples of heart tissue from animals as well as potentially some human tissue samples of atria. Appropriate training in the use of different tissues and samples will be given and can be a valuable asset for future careers in the field of biomedical sciences. All work will be complicit with appropriate ethics clearances and UK Home Office regulations for the use of animal models as required.


Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline.

Applicants whose first language is not English must provide evidence that their English language is sufficient to meet the specific demands of their study. The Faculty of Biological Sciences minimum requirements in IELTS and TOEFL tests are:

  • British Council IELTS - score of 6.0 overall, with no element less than 5.5
  • TOEFL iBT - overall score of 87 with the listening and reading element no less than 20, writing element no less than 21 and the speaking element no less than 22. 

How to apply

To apply for this project applicants should complete an online application form and attach the following documentation to support their application. 

  • a full academic CV
  • degree certificate and transcripts of marks
  • Evidence that you meet the University's minimum English language requirements (if applicable)
  • Evidence of funding

To help us identify that you are applying for this project please ensure you provide the following information on your application form;

  • Select PhD in Biological Sciences as your programme of study
  • Give the full project title and name the supervisors listed in this advert

For information about the application process please contact the Faculty Admissions Team:


Biological Sciences (4) Medicine (26)

Funding Notes

This project is open to applicants who have the funding to support their own studies or who have a sponsor who will cover these costs.

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