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  Cellular and molecular markers of atrial fibrillation in patients with thyroid dysfunction.

   Institute of Life Course and Medical Sciences

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  Dr Sunil Logantha, Dr Richard Rainbow, Dr Gary McDowell, Prof GYH Lip  No more applications being accepted  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Atrial fibrillation is a medical condition that causes the heart’s upper chambers (atria) to beat irregularly and often at an abnormally fast rate. It is the most common atrial rhythm disorder and is known to increase the risk of stroke, heart failure and all-cause mortality. Thyroid dysfunction is a well-recognised contributor to atrial fibrillation; however, it is not clear why this is the case. The risk of developing atrial fibrillation is closely associated with thyroid function. Higher levels of circulating thyroid hormones, even within the normal range, have been shown to increase the risk of developing atrial fibrillation.

We have an ongoing programme of research at the Liverpool Centre of Cardiovascular Science involving cohorts of post-cardiac surgery and post-stroke patients. An opportunity has arisen for a PhD project investigating the relationship between thyroid hormone levels and incidence of atrial fibrillation in these cohorts. The PhD project will explore the hypothesis that thyroid dysfunction in the human alters cardiac thyroid hormone availability causing remodelling of the atrial myocardium and increasing the risk of developing atrial fibrillation. The project will involve laboratory assessment of blood from post-cardiac surgery and post-stroke patients as well as atrial tissue from the post-cardiac surgery cohort. The project objectives are: (1) to assess whether blood levels of thyroid hormones correlate with the incidence of atrial fibrillation in the two cohorts; (2) electrophysiological evaluation of atrial tissue biopsies in the laboratory to determine their propensity to developing atrial fibrillation; (3) quantitative assessment of atrial gene and protein expression using cutting edge -omics approaches. The PhD project is expected to identify key cellular and molecular markers of atrial fibrillation in patients with thyroid dysfunction. 

We are looking for a highly motivated student who is willing to pursue cutting edge research within a vibrant and collegiate team. The PhD candidate will be based in the Department of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine, University of Liverpool and would be expected to work collaboratively with clinical colleagues at Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital. The position would suit candidates with a background in cardiovascular/endocrine science. Candidates with good communication skills and experience in one or more of the laboratory methods: electrophysiology, biochemistry and/or molecular biology are encouraged to apply. Training in laboratory techniques would be provided where necessary. A BSc/MSc/MRes in biology/biomedical sciences, physiology, pharmacology, endocrinology, or a health-related subject would be essential.

Furthermore, all postgraduate students undertake the Post Graduate Researcher (PGR) Development Programme which aims to enhance their skills for a successful research experience and career. They are required to maintain an online record of their progress and record their personal and professional development throughout their research degree. The Liverpool Centre for Cardiovascular Science holds monthly research group meetings where students are given opportunities to present their research.

The Institute of Life Course and Medical Science is fully committed to promoting gender equality in all activities. In recruitment we emphasize the supportive nature of the working environment and the flexible family support that the University provides. The Institute holds a silver Athena SWAN award in recognition of on-going commitment to ensuring that the Athena SWAN principles are embedded in its activities and strategic initiatives.

Biological Sciences (4) Mathematics (25) Medicine (26)

Funding Notes

This is a self-funded PhD opportunity open to students worldwide. Candidates with scholarships awarded by external funding bodies/national governments are invited to apply. Information on research degree fees and how to fund your PhD are available on the University website at


1. Bentley R, Logantha SJRJ, Sharma P et al. Pathophysiological insights into atrial fibrillation: revisiting the electrophysiological substrate, anatomical substrate, and possible insights from proteomics. Cardiovascular Research 2021; 117: e41-e45. doi: 10.1093/cvr/cvaa276.
2. Aguilar M, Rose RA, Takawale A et al. New aspects of endocrine control of atrial fibrillation and possibilities for clinical translation. Cardiovascular Research 2021; 117: 1645-1661. doi: 10.1093/cvr/cvab080.
3. Baumgartner C, da costa BR, Collet T et al. Thyroid function within the normal range, subclinical hypothyroidism and the risk of atrial fibrillation. Circulation 2017; 136: 2100-2116. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.117.028753
4. Logantha SJRJ, Kharche SR, Zhang Y, et al. Sinus node-like pacemaker mechanisms regulate ectopic pacemaker activity in the adult rat atrioventricular ring. Scientific Reports 2019; 9: 11781. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-48276-0.
5. Linscheid N, Logantha SJRJ, Poulsen PC et al. Quantitative proteomics and single-nucleus transcriptomics of the sinus node elucidates the foundation of cardiac pacemaking. Nature Communications 2019; 10: 2889. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-10709-9.
6. Logantha SJRJ, Cai XJ, Yanni J et al. Remodeling of the Purkinje network in congestive heart failure in the rabbit. Circulation: Heart Failure 2021; 14: e007505. doi: 10.1161/CIRCHEARTFAILURE.120.007505.

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