Many adults report adverse reactions to food (up to 30% in Europe), but IgE mediated food allergies are much less common (1-5%). The distinction is important as true food allergies can be life threatening whereas intolerances cause troublesome symptoms that can be debilitating but do not pose an immediate risk t life. Since cures are not available current treatment involves dietary restrictions which impact on quality of life and have associated nutritional and economic consequences. The challenge in primary care is to appropriately identify those who may have food allergy, to refer them for a full assessment in the allergy clinic. It has been recognised by NICE that no tools exist to aid GPs in this task. The prevalence of food allergy in adults the UK is not known and so the UK Food Standards Agency have recently commissioned a study to measure it – Patterns of Adult Food Allergy (PAFA, CI Professor Clare Mills, Co- I Professor Angela Simpson, University of Manchester). In a multi-stage protocol PAFA will measure the prevalence of self-reported adverse reactions to foods, possible IgE-mediated food allergy, probable IgE mediated food allergy and confirmed IgE mediated food allergy by starting with screening questionnaire to many thousands and finishing with oral food challenges in small numbers. Professor Mills was CI on the Europrevall study which measured prevalence of food allergy across Europe.
This PhD is nested within the PAFA study and builds on pilot data previously collected in a poor urban population in Greater Manchester. The candidate will be involved in all aspects of PAFA, developing skills in epidemiological research and in diagnosis of food allergy including oral food challenge and particularly reaching a poor urban population that may experience health inequalities.
The specific objectives for the PhD, (which could start as an MPhil and progress to PhD)
1. To measure the prevalence of self-reported adverse reactions to foods in a poor urban adult population and map changes over time;
2. To measure the prevalence of probable and confirmed IgE mediated food allergy in a poor urban population;
3. To perform a meta- analysis of the prevalence of adult food allergy across Europe, combining new data from PAFA, with existing data from Europrevall (8 countries/centres)
4. To identify which parameters in the short population survey of adverse reactions to food (Stage 1 PAFA) can be used to predict confirmed food allergy (Stage 3 PAFA). Use these results to develop and validate a toolkit for GPs to identify which patients reporting adverse reactions to food require referral to the allergy service for full evaluation.
5. To use qualitative methods to assess the barriers and feasibility of providing allergy testing within the community (involving with patients from the adult and paediatric (and carers) population, paediatricians, adult allergy consultants, primary care nurses, General Practitioners, and dieticians)
Candidates are expected to hold (or be about to obtain) a minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a related area/subject. Candidates with previous laboratory experience are particularly encouraged to apply.
How To Apply
For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website (https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/study/research/apply/). Informal enquiries may be made directly to the primary supervisor. On the online application form select the appropriate subject title.
For international students, we also offer a unique 4 year PhD programme that gives you the opportunity to undertake an accredited Teaching Certificate whilst carrying out an independent research project across a range of biological, medical and health sciences.
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. The full Equality, diversity and inclusion statement can be found on the website https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/study/research/apply/equality-diversity-inclusion/”