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Enabling large trials for the prevention of dementia

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  • Full or part time
    Dr W Whiteley
    Dr Graciela Muniz-Terrera
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The post-holder will be responsible for the preparation and analysis of large datasets held in Canada and Scotland in order to plan for the delivery of clinical trials, and epidemiological contributors to dementia risk. We will be testing key hypothesis about the effects of different vascular disease on health, the effects of different cognitive and functional tests, and their implications for sample sizes of future large trials.

The three key questions that the candidate will answer are:

• What is the observed average rate of change in general cognitive and functional ability with age in a population at high risk of vascular diseases, and does this vary with baseline characteristics (stroke, MI etc.) or within study stroke?
• What is the effect of different cognitive tests, analytic approaches, and assumptions on the effect sizes, using BP lowering trials held in PHRI and collaborators (for example SPS3) i.e. try to replicate SPRINT-MIND outcomes?
• What is the effect of baseline modifiable risk factors on brain imaging changes in PURE-MIND, an international study of brain imaging?

Supervision in Edinburgh will be provided by Dr. Whiteley (Senior Lecturer in Neurology) and Dr. Graciela Muniz Terrera (Senior Lecturer in Biostatistics and Epidemiology).

The post is based in Edinburgh, but the post-holder will collaborate closely with collaborators in Canada, and it is expected they will visit Population Health Research Institute, McMaster University for 1 year. Supervision will be provided in McMaster by Professor Shrikant Bangdiwala, Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence and Impact, McMaster University and Professor Jackie Bosch, Population Health Research Institute, McMaster University, and Dr. Whiteley from Edinburgh.

Funding Notes

The studentship includes a 3-year UKRI-level stipend, UK/EU tuition fees and an allowance for consumables.

Bachelors and or Masters in epidemiology, mathematics, statistics, or other quantitative discipline, or qualification in a relevant clinical field with a strong quantitative background.

Essential skills
•Excellent organisational skills.
•Excellent oral and written communication skills in English
•Knowledge and experience with advanced statistical and graphics packages (e.g. Stata, SAS, R)
•Good interpersonal communication skills.
•Knowledge of epidemiological principles


1. Whiteley WN, Anand S, Bangdiwala SI, Bosch J, Canavan M, Chertkow H, Gerstein HC, Gorelick P, O’Donnell M, Paré G, Pigeyre M, Seshadri S, Sharma M, Smith EE, Williamson J, Cukierman-Yaffe T, Hart RG, Yusuf S. Are large simple trials for dementia prevention possible? Age Ageing. 2019;
2. Bosch J, O’Donnell M, Swaminathan B, Lonn EM, Sharma M, Dagenais G, Diaz R, Khunti K, Lewis BS, Avezum A, Held C, Keltai M, Reid C, Toff WD, Dans A, Leiter LA, Sliwa K, Lee SF, Pogue JM, Hart R, Yusuf S, HOPE-3 Investigators on behalf of the H-3. Effects of blood pressure and lipid lowering on cognition: Results from the HOPE-3 study. Neurology. 2019;92.
3. Smith EE, O’Donnell M, Dagenais G, Lear SA, Wielgosz A, Sharma M, Poirier P, Stotts G, Black SE, Strother S, Noseworthy MD, Benavente O, Modi J, Goyal M, Batool S, Sanchez K, Hill V, McCreary CR, Frayne R, Islam S, DeJesus J, Rangarajan S, Teo K, Yusuf S. Early cerebral small vessel disease and brain volume, cognition, and gait. Ann Neurol. 2015;77:251–261.

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FTE Category A staff submitted: 117.28

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