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Determining the Impact of Physical Activity and Other Lifestyle Behaviours on Vascular Function and Health

School of Applied Sciences

About the Project

This project is based in the Sport, Exercise and Health Research theme within the School of Applied Sciences, and is led by Dr Mark Ross ( and is investigating the impact of lifestyle factors on cardiovascular health and function, using population-based data.

Cardiovascular disease and morbidity is the biggest cause of death in the United Kingdom. Lifestyle behaviours play a significant role, with smoking, physical inactivity, physical activity and diet, all play a role to modulate cardiovascular health and function. Currently, there is a wide plethora of information regarding these individual aspects on cardiovascular health, however, these aspects of lifestyle likely interact with each other, and the impact of these interactions are unknown.

The project aims to utilize large cohort studies, such as the UK BioBank (, to investigate lifestyle factors and their influence on cardiovascular health and function. Our group has extensive expertise in the cardiovascular adaptations to exercise and physical inactivity, as well as the role physical activity plays to prevent cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, however large population- based studies investigating the interactions with sex, smoking, diet, are limited.

You will be given the opportunity to engage in an active postgraduate research group. You will be provided with extensive training in epidemiology and statistics. You will be given the opportunity to engage with an active postgraduate research community (including the chance to present at national/international conferences) and take part in a full training programme aimed atsupporting progression to a successful research career.

Academic qualifications
A first degree (at least a 2.1) ideally in Human Physiology or related subject with a good fundamental knowledge of cardiovascular physiology and the application of statistics.

English language requirement
IELTS score must be at least 6.5 (with not less than 6.0 in each of the four components). Other, equivalent qualifications will be accepted. Full details of the University’s policy are available online.

Essential attributes:
• Experience of fundamental human physiology, with background in cardiovascular health and function
• Competent in use of excel, SPSS or other associated data analysis software
• Knowledge of determinants of cardiovascular health
• Good written and oral communication skills
• Strong motivation, with evidence of independent research skills relevant to the project
• Good time management

Desirable attributes:

Please quote project code SAS0079 in your enquiry and application.

• Completed application form
• CV
• 2 academic references, using the Postgraduate Educational Reference Form (Found on the application process page)
• A personal research statement (This should include (a) a brief description of your relevant experience and skills, (b) an indication of
what you would uniquely bring to the project and (c) a statement of how this project fits with your future direction.)
• Evidence of proficiency in English (if appropriate)

Funding Notes

This is a self-funded PhD only

For informal enquiries about this PhD project, please contact Dr Mark Ross


Celis-Morales CA, Lyall DM, Steell L, Gray SR, Iliodromiti S, Anderson J, Mackay DF, Welsh P, Yates T, Pell JP, Sattar N and Gill JMR. Associations of discretionary screen time with mortality, cardiovascular disease and cancer are attenuated by strength, fitness and physical activity: findings from the UK Biobank study. BMC Med. 2018;16:77.

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