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Allostatic load in later life: How does neighbourhood 'get under the skin'


   School of Social and Political Science

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  Dr A Marshall, Prof Jamie Pearce, Prof Catharine Ward Thompson  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Edinburgh United Kingdom Epidemiology Medicine Nursing & Health Social Geography

About the Project

 The Advanced Care Research Centre (ACRC) is a new, multi-disciplinary, £20M research centre at the University of Edinburgh. The ACRC will lead society’s response to the grand challenge of an ageing population that is growing in size, longevity and needs through the pursuit of research intended to deliver “high‐quality data‐driven, personalised and affordable care to support the independence, dignity and quality‐of‐life of people living in their own homes and in supported care environments”.

This project sits within the ACRC Academy , a dedicated Centre for Doctoral Training, co-located with the ACRC, whose students will deliver key aspects of the ACRC research agenda through a new doctoral-level research and training programme that will also equip them for careers across a wide range of pioneering and influential leadership roles in the public, private and third sectors.

The PhD with Integrated Study in Advanced Care is a novel, structured, thematic, cohort-based, programme of 48 months duration. Each PhD research project within the Academy has been devised by a supervisory team comprising academic staff from at least two of the three colleges within the University of Edinburgh. Each annual cohort of around twelve will include students with disciplinary backgrounds spanning from engineering and data science to humanities, social science, business and commerce, social work, medicine and related health and care professions. This unique level of diversity is a key attribute of our programme.

Project  

Aim

The overarching aim of this project is to examine how the stresses associated with social circumstances and place operate across the life course to ‘get under the skin’ and have enduring effects on allostatic load in later life. 

Objectives

  1. Do we see variation in levels and trajectories of allostatic load in later life that are influenced by characteristics of place (e.g. deprivation, green space, crime or pollution) independent of individual socio-economic circumstances?  
  2. Are there critical periods in the life course where exposure to neighbourhood characteristics is particularly important in setting later life allostatic load?   
  3. Do trajectories of allostatic load alter as older people experience a move of home and neighbourhood in later life? 
  4. What are the lessons for the planning and design of environments conducive to healthy ageing that flow from this research?  

Description

The overarching aim of this project is to examine how the stresses associated with living in particular neighbourhood at particular parts of the life course ‘get under the skin’ and have enduring effects on allostatic load in later life. It is well known that health outcomes are strongly associated with neighbourhood characteristics, but the mechanisms that underpin this association are contested. Recent advances in survey data combining social and biomedical information enable the links between social circumstances, stress, allostatic load and subsequent health outcomes to be formally tested and this represents an emerging area of research.  

Eligibility 

We are specifically looking for applicants who will view their cutting-edge PhD research project in the context of the overall vision of the ACRC, who are keen to contribute to tackling a societal grand challenge and who can add unique value to – and derive great benefit from – training in a cohort comprising colleagues with a very diverse range of disciplines and backgrounds. We advise prospective candidates to engage in dialogue with the named project supervisor and/or the Director of the Academy prior to submitting an application. 

Recruitment  

We are running a rolling recruitment process. Projects will be advertised until they are recruited to, and you are advised to apply as early as possible to maximise your chances.


Funding Notes

PhDs are funded with an enhanced stipend for the full 4 year period.
The call is open to candidates of any nationality but funded places for overseas nationals will be strictly limited to 4 international students who can apply for the highly competitive ACRC Global Scholarship.
It is essential to read the How to Apply section of our website before you apply:
https://www.ed.ac.uk/usher/advanced-care-research-centre/academy/how-to-apply
Please apply here:
https://www.ed.ac.uk/studying/postgraduate/degrees/index.php?r=site/view&edition=2022&id=1048

References

Cherrie, M., Shortt, N., Ward Thompson, C., Deary, I. & Pearce, J. 2019. Association between the activity space exposure to parks in childhood and adolescence and cognitive aging in later life. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 16, 632
Deurzen, I. van, & Vanhoutte, B. (2018). A Longitudinal Study of Allostatic Load in Later Life: The Role of Sex, Birth Cohorts, and Risk Accumulation. Research on Aging. https://doi.org/10.1177/0164027518813839.
Pearce, J.R., Shortt, N., Rind, E. & Mitchell, R. 2016. Life course, green space and health: Incorporating place into life course epidemiology. Int J Environ Res Public Health 13(3):331
Read, S., Grundy, E. (2014). Allostatic load and health in the older population of England: A crossed-lagged analysis. Psychosomatic Medicine, 76, 490–496.
Roe, J.J., Ward Thompson, C., Aspinall, P.A., Brewer, M.J., Duff, E.I., Miller, D., Mitchell, R., Clow, A. 2013. Green Space and Stress: Evidence from Cortisol Measures in Deprived Urban Communities. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 10, 4086-4103
Ward Thompson, C. Roe, J., Aspinall, P., Mitchell, R., Clow, A. & Miller, D. 2012. More green space is linked to less stress in deprived communities: Evidence from salivary cortisol patterns. Landscape and Urban Planning 105, pp. 221–229
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