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Better outcomes in MND (motor neuron disease) - NIHR funded clinical and non-clinical doctoral studentships

   Department of Neuroscience

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  Prof Chris McDermott, Dr E Hobson, Dr Lizzie Coates  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The world leading specialist Sheffield MND Care and Research Centre at the Sheffield Institute of Translational Neuroscience (SITraN), University of Sheffield is leading the drive to develop and implement new technologies to improve the care for patients with motor neuron disease (MND). Treatment for MND is focussed on slowing the progression and managing symptoms. Due to the complexity and rare nature of the disease, the evidence is clear that delivery of this care by a multidisciplinary team of specialists leads to better outcomes. What is key to success is the way in which all members of the multidisciplinary team work together.

The Sheffield team have already developed a successful technology service (TiM: telehealth in MND) to support care for people with MND and their carers and, through their network of specialist clinics are rolling this out UK-wide. The purpose of these PhD projects is to harness the potential of TiM and other existing digital health interventions to ultimately improve outcomes for people with MND.

To help improve outcomes for people with MND, Professor Christopher McDermott has recently been awarded a prestigious Research Professorship from the National Institute for Health and Care Research. Through this, we can fund at least two attached PhD projects to address one of the following issues:

1)     How can technology support communication in the MND care landscape to the benefit of people living with MND, caregivers and/or healthcare professionals?

2)    How can technology better support the remote delivery of efficient clinical trials in MND?

3)    How can the potential of existing technologies (to monitor and support respiratory function, mobility, speech, mood etc) be harnessed to improve outcomes for people with MND?

Students will benefit from supervision from world leading researchers and a multidisciplinary professional team of clinicians and researchers including other allied healthcare professional students. Along with the University of Sheffield’s doctoral development programme they will have access to research development from the NIHR Academy and the Sheffield Biomedical Research Centre and be encouraged to develop their research expertise with exposure to a range of subject areas including MND clinical therapies, patient and public involvement, user-centred design, qualitative and quantitative methodology, clinical trials and implementation science. The student will strengthen existing links with partnering clinical teams and charities.

Clinical applicants (allied health professionals with an interest in multidisciplinary working in neurological conditions) would deliver some clinical activity within the MDT team based at the Sheffield MND Care Centre at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. Students would also be expected to travel to other MND care centres or community services as part of their studies.

Entry Requirements:

Candidates must:

1)    have a relevant honours degree (2:1 or equivalent) in a relevant discipline (social or health sciences), nursing or equivalent allied healthcare professional (physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, dietician, physiologist) qualification

2)    have completed a master’s degree with merit or distinction (or a non-UK equivalent) in a relevant subject, or have relevant research experience

3)    have excellent verbal and written communication skills

4)    English language requirements (international applicants)

5)    for clinical applicants: have at least two years clinical relevance experience (e.g. neurology, long-term conditions, palliative care, service delivery).

How to apply:

Please complete a University Postgraduate Research Application form available here: www.shef.ac.uk/postgraduate/research/apply

Please clearly state the title of the studentship, the prospective main supervisor (Professor Christopher McDermott) and select Neuroscience as the department.

You will also need to include:

1)    A personal statement stating which project you are interested in and why, your experience and your suitability for doctoral study

2)    A document of 500 words describing how you would seek to answer the research question and the research methods you would apply.

3)    A copy of your CV.


Interested candidates should in the first instance contact Dr Lizzie Coates, Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Neuroscience, email: [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

The project is funded through the ‘Better outcomes in MND’ Research Professorship sponsored by the National Institute of Health Research (Chief Investigator: Professor Christopher McDermott).
Salary/stipend rate:
For clinical applicants – Funding to cover 3.5 years, paid at equivalent to NHS Band 6 or Band 7 and clinical appointment as part of this PhD Fellowship.
For non-clinical applicants – Funding to cover 3.5 years, paid at the standard UKRI stipend rate.
Registration fees covered at UK rate. International registration fees would need to be covered by the student.
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