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Getting to grips with severe asthma - a whole population approach using routinely acquired data.


Project Description

There are 500,000 people in Scotland who have asthma. Asthma symptoms range from mild through moderate to severe. Severe asthma is not common but since it is associated with morbidity and mortality, severe asthma is a considerable burden to patients, society and the NHS. Remarkably little is understood about severe asthma, and this is in part due to the absence of a standard definition for severe asthma and in part due to the small number of affected patients in individual geographic centres. As a consequence, the prevalence and incidence of severe asthma are not known and the natural history of severe asthma is not well described. A whole-population study of severe asthma over ten years would be a considerable step forwards in our understanding of the epidemiology of severe asthma. The results could translate to clinical benefit.

This studentship will be the first to study severe asthma using routinely-acquired data for a whole population (i.e. the 5.5 million population of Scotland). Details of all primary care prescribing and hospital admission data between 2009-2018 will be obtained for all individuals resident in Scotland aged 5-40 years. Cases with severe asthma will be identified using different definitions. Factors associated with severe asthma regardless of the definition applied will be described and could be used to create a gold standard definition of asthma. Cases of severe asthma identified from routine data will be validated using in-depth phenotyping of patients in the severe asthma clinic in Aberdeen (including physiological and psychological testing). The prevalence and annual incidence of severe asthma per 1000 population will be described. A virtual cohort will be creates to determine the outcomes of severe asthma, with a focus on severe asthma in adolescence; and factors associated with persistence and remission of severe asthma will be described.

The student will gain experience and become highly competent in epidemiology, the governance and ethics of using routinely-collected data, “cleansing” and statistical analysis of routinely acquired data, academic writing, presentations to national and international audiences and the translation of research findings into public health policy and clinical guidelines.

This project is built on Aberdeen’s clinical expertise in asthma and research expertise in analysis and linkage of routinely acquired data. This is a three year full-time opportunity. Applicants should hold a minimum upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, in a relevant subject (e.g. biological sciences or statistics) and an MSc. Enquiries are very welcome.

APPLICATION PROCEDURE:
This project is advertised in relation to the research areas of APPLIED HEALTH SCIENCE. Formal applications can be completed online: https://www.abdn.ac.uk/pgap/login.php. You should apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Health Science, to ensure that your application is passed to the correct person for processing.

NOTE CLEARLY THE NAME OF THE SUPERVISOR AND EXACT PROJECT TITLE ON THE APPLICATION FORM.

Candidates should contact the lead supervisor to discuss the project in advance of submitting an application, as supervisors will be expected to provide a letter of support for suitable applicants. Candidates will be informed after the application deadline if they have been shortlisted for interview.

Funding Notes

This project is part of a competition funded by the Institute of Applied Health Sciences. Full funding is available to UK/EU candidates only. Overseas candidates can apply for this studentship but will have to find additional funding to cover the difference between overseas and home fees (approximately £15,680 per annum).

Candidates should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum of a First Class Honours degree in a relevant subject. Applicants with a minimum of a 2:1 Honours degree may be considered provided they have a Distinction at Masters level.

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