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Elderly patients: tackling neglected tropical disease (NTDs) and living in dignity

   School of Biological Sciences

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  Prof Francisca Mutapi, Dr Geoffrey Banda  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Please ensure you check the eligibility criteria before applying to this project.

The Advanced Care Research Centre (ACRC) is a new, multi-disciplinary, £20M research centre at the University of Edinburgh. The ACRC will lead society’s response to the grand challenge of an ageing population that is growing in size, longevity and needs through the pursuit of research intended to deliver “high‐quality data‐driven, personalised and affordable care to support the independence, dignity and quality‐of‐life of people living in their own homes and in supported care environments”.

This project sits within the ACRC Academy , a dedicated Centre for Doctoral Training, co-located with the ACRC, whose students will deliver key aspects of the ACRC research agenda through a new doctoral-level research and training programme that will also equip them for careers across a wide range of pioneering and influential leadership roles in the public, private and third sectors.

The PhD with Integrated Study in Advanced Care is a novel, structured, thematic, cohort-based, programme of 48 months duration. Each PhD research project within the Academy has been devised by a supervisory team comprising academic staff from at least two of the three colleges within the University of Edinburgh. Each annual cohort of around twelve will include students with disciplinary backgrounds spanning from engineering and data science to humanities, social science, business and commerce, social work, medicine and related health and care professions. This unique level of diversity is a key attribute of our programme.



To explore the burden and impact of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in the elderly, and to explore clinical, socio-cultural and technological interventions that can result in improved healthcare and support for the affected elderly.  


To conduct a case study in Zimbabwe to determine the following: 

  • Level of the highest burden NTDs which are amenable to preventative chemotherapy (PC NTDs) [technological intervention]: - Lymphatic Filariasis (more commonly known as Elephantiasis), Onchocerciasis (River Blindness), Schistosomiasis (Bilharzia), Blinding Trachoma, and Soil - Transmitted Helminthiasis (Intestinal Worms) among the elderly (defined as 55 plus in Africa) 
  • Explore and map Knowledge Attitudes and Practices (KAP) about NTDs in the elderly. 
  • Investigate clinical and socio-cultural care and interventions currently available to elderly NTD sufferers. 
  • Identify healthcare gaps that can be addressed through currently available interventions to improve the lived experience of affected elderly.  


The project aims to i) provide a contextualized and nuanced understanding of the impact of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in the elderly, and ii) identify the possible mix of socio-technical interventions that can improve healthcare and support strategies for the affected elderly. NTDs debilitate, disfigure and can be fatal. The elderly are currently the most neglected group of NTD sufferers both in terms of current interventions and research. This project will contribute to the new World Health Organization’s NTD Roadmap for 2021-2030 recommendations of an inclusive approach to NTD control to prevent, control, eliminate or eradicate the 20 NTDs.   


Candidates should have a 2:1 degree or equivalent in a relevant discipline such as biology, epidemiology, or public health. Candidate should be prepared to conduct fieldwork in Zimbabwe and potentially our other TIBA partner countries in Africa listed on https://tiba-partnership.org/ 

We are specifically looking for applicants who will view their cutting-edge PhD research project in the context of the overall vision of the ACRC, who are keen to contribute to tackling a societal grand challenge and who can add unique value to – and derive great benefit from – training in a cohort comprising colleagues with a very diverse range of disciplines and backgrounds. We advise prospective candidates to engage in dialogue with the named project supervisor and/or the Director of the Academy prior to submitting an application. 

You must read How to apply prior to application

Please Apply here

Funding Notes

PhDs are funded with an enhanced stipend for the full 4 year period.
The call is open to candidates of any nationality but funded places for overseas nationals will be strictly limited to 4 international students who can apply for the highly competitive ACRC Global Scholarship.
It is essential to read the How to Apply section of our website before you apply:
Please apply here:



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