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Dietary and lifestyle management of gastric reflux and dyspepsia (Ref: SF20/APP/BROWNLEE5)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Upper gut symptoms like heartburn cause major long-term impact on quality of life and are believed to be caused by the movement of stomach contents back up the oesophagus. While clinical guidelines suggest dietary and lifestyle approaches as the first line of management for gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, many patients will instead be treated pharmacologically to suppress stomach acid secretion for prolonged periods of time. This desk-based project will focus of some of the remaining research questions in this area (see below) and also involve engagement of patient and members of the public.
• What is the quality of existing evidence on the impact of dietary and lifestyle interventions on symptom and disease management (assessed via a series of systematic literature reviews)?
• What appear to be common trigger foods that cause heartburn and other symptoms (assessed via questionnaire/focus group/interview)?
• Can a better approach to manage the negative symptoms of reflux be developed?

Eligibility and How to Apply:
Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications should include a covering letter that includes a short summary (500 words max.) of a relevant piece of research that you have previously completed and the reasons you consider yourself suited to the project. Applications that do not include the advert reference (e.g. SF20/…) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: 1st July for October start, or 1st December for March start
Start Date: October or March
Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.

Please direct enquiries to Dr Iain Brownlee ()

Funding Notes

Please note, this is a self-funded project and does not include tuition fees or stipend; the studentship is available to Students Worldwide. Fee bands are available at View Website . A relevant fee band will be discussed at interview based on project running costs.


Lim, S.X.B. and Brownlee, I.A., 2019. Assessment of the Acute Effects of Carbonated Beverage Consumption on Symptoms and Objective Markers of Gastric Reflux. Gastrointestinal Disorders, 1, 30-38.
Brownlee, I.A., 2018. Chemical Composition of Refluxate. In Reflux Aspiration and Lung Disease (pp. 29-39). Springer, Cham.
Chew, K.Y. and Brownlee, I.A. (2018). The impact of supplementation with dietary fibers on weight loss: A systematic review of randomised controlled trials. Bioactive Carbohydrates and Dietary Fibre, 14, 9-19.
Chater, P.I., Wilcox, M.D., Brownlee, I.A. and Pearson, J.P., 2015. Alginate as a protease inhibitor in vitro and in a model gut system; selective inhibition of pepsin but not trypsin. Carbohydrate Polymers, 131, 142-151.

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