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Effect of Growth Hormone Administration on Muscle Mass and Cognitive Function

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Wednesday, May 01, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

At UWS, we are passionate about our research that focuses on resolving societally critical problems and to address some of those we have established a partnership with the International Space School Educational Trust (ISSET). Join UWS on a true Mission Discovery to find out how advances in science and technology could benefit from, and have value added through, experimentation in space. We are offering an out of this world fully-funded PhD opportunity, co-supervised with ISSET, to collaborate with NASA and other American academic institutions to tackle challenges that we face both on Earth and in space. There’s one International Space Station working on behalf of the entire planet Earth and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to have your research project launched out there.

Space travel imposes extraordinary challenges on human physiological function. The low resistance to movement combined with weightlessness results in a reduction in both bone and muscle mass with a consequent fall in cardiorespiratory capacity. In order to counteract this, astronaut’s must exercise regularly.

Professor Baker and his team have recently investigated the effects of Human Growth hormone (HGh) on a variety of physiological measures in athletes who had previously used anabolic steroids. That study found that short term use was associated with improvements in endothelial function, markers of inflammation, and cardiovascular disease. Importantly, there were significant improvements in strength, lean tissue mass, and respiratory muscle strength. Other researchers have shown that the growth hormone (GH)/insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1)/DAF-2 axis is regarded as an important regulator of muscle mass and longevity and GH treatment up-regulates the level of IGF-1 gene expression (as reviewed by Sharples et al, 2015). The principle aim of the proposed project is to determine the role of the GH/IGF-1 axis in muscle growth and longevity in microgravity, using earth worms. Earth worms are an excellent species to use for such a study due to their significant muscle content and feasibility to send to the International Space Station. This study should produce important information relating to ways of assessing and improving life span of animals that are launched into space. Furthermore, studying muscle mass and composition, an important factor for astronauts, will provide important information for future strategies to improve muscle mass and composition of species in Space, especially as the number of humans and animals going to Space will significantly increase in the future, with significant health implications.

Brief Experimental Protocol
Using an RCT design, earth worms will be randomly allocated to one of four groups, with those in groups 2 and 3 receiving an agent that will modify GH or IGF-1 levels or receptors in earthworms.

(1) Control group earth-bound,
(2) Treated group earth-bound,
(3) Control group ISS-bound,
(4) Treated group ISS-bound

A significant amount of investigation will required in preliminary experiments to determine the overall phenotype of the earthworms in relation to muscle mass/composition, longevity and to determine other biomarkers of interest to the overall study. Once these have been determined, interventions will be made using agents that modify the GH/IGF-1/DAF-2 axis and the most effective agent for improving muscle mass/composition and longevity will be taken forward to the next phase of the study – launch to the International Space Station, using the 4 treatment groups outlined above.. Analysis of the samples and comparison to earth-bound controls will be a major component of the project and could involve the student travelling to the US to retrieve the samples and carrying out the extended analysis in a US university (optional).

Funding Notes

UWS is an inspiring, vibrant place to study with a growing research community; an important aspect of which is its outstanding and committed research students. The studentship offers an annual stipend of £14,777 per annum for three years and payment of the tuition fees. Funding will be considered as part of a competitive round. Studentships are open to Home/EU candidates with a first degree in a relevant discipline. Non-EU students can apply, but will not receive the stipend and will be required to pay fees.

How good is research at University of the West of Scotland in Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 9.20

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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