(BRC) Nailfold capillary imaging in the idiopathic inflammatory myopathies (Non-Clinical)

   Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

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  Dr A Murray, Dr H Chinoy, Dr J Lamb  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

The idiopathic inflammatory myopathies (IIMs) are rare conditions characterised by distinct clinical subtypes and varied multisystem involvement. These include dermatomyositis (DM), anti-synthetase syndrome (ASyS), ASyS-skin (ASyS with skin involvement).

Early diagnosis is required due to the risk of secondary organ involvement and cancer development. Systemic sclerosis (SSc, or ‘scleroderma’) is another rare multisystem connective tissue disease and has the highest mortality of all rheumatic diseases, similarly, requiring early diagnosis and intervention.

Nailfold capillaroscopy is a non-invasive technique used routinely to assess the degree of microvascular structural abnormalities in patients with SSc for the purpose of diagnosis. The aim of this project is to explore the use of nailfold capillaroscopy in DM, ASyS, ASyS-skin and SSc to monitor longitudinal changes and compare these data to serum protein and RNA biomarkers.

The project will comprise of 3 studies: a longitudinal hospital based study where patients attend to have capillaroscopy; a patient-led study where patients acquire their own capillary images; and a biomarker comparison study comparing capillaroscopy with biopsy, serum protein and RNA. The studies will be guided by strong patient involvement.

These outcomes of this project may aid further sub-classification of IIM cases using nailfold capillaroscopy imaging, may help to confirm the clinical observations already made and in the future could aid diagnosis.


Applicants must have obtained or be about to obtain a First or Upper Second class UK honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in a relevant discipline.

Before you Apply 

Applicants must make direct contact with the primary supervisor before applying to discuss their interest in the project. It is your responsibility to make arrangements to meet with potential supervisors, prior to submitting a formal online application.  

How to Apply 

To be considered for this project you MUST submit a formal online application form - full details on how to apply can be found on the BRC website https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/study/research/funded-programmes/manchester-brc-phd-studentships/ 

Your application form must be accompanied by a number of supporting documents by the advertised deadlines. Without all the required documents submitted at the time of application, your application will not be processed and we cannot accept responsibility for late or missed deadlines. Incomplete applications will not be considered. If you have any queries regarding making an application please contact our admissions team.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion  

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. The full Equality, diversity and inclusion statement can be found on the website https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/study/research/apply/equality-diversity-inclusion/  

Biological Sciences (4) Medicine (26) Physics (29)

Funding Notes

This studentship covers tuition fees and salary for home candidates only.


Hum RM, et al. Comparison of clinical features between patients with anti-synthetase syndrome and dermatomyositis: Results from the MYONET registry. Rheumatology 2023, in press. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/kead481.
Dinsdale G, et al. Mobile phone thermal imaging as an ambulatory assessment tool in Raynaud's phenomenon. Rheumatology 2023, in press. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/kead210.
Bharathi PG, et al. A deep learning system for quantitative assessment of microvascular abnormalities in nailfold capillary images. Rheumatology 2023;62:2325-2329. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/kead026.
Oldroyd AGS, et al. Investigating characteristics of idiopathic inflammatory myopathy flares using daily symptom data collected via a smartphone app. Rheumatology 2022;61:4845-4854. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/keac161.
Berks M, et al. Comparison between low cost USB nailfold capillaroscopy and videocapillaroscopy: a pilot study. Rheumatology 2021;60:3862-3867.