This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the ‘GW4 BioMed MRC Doctoral Training Partnership’ which is offering up to 18 studentships for entry in September 2020.
The DTP brings together the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter to develop the next generation of biomedical researchers. Students will have access to the combined research strengths, training expertise and resources of the four research-intensive universities.
Dr Esther Walton, Department of Psychology, University of Bath https://researchportal.bath.ac.uk/en/persons/esther-walton
Dr Doretta Caramaschi (Bristol) http://www.bristol.ac.uk/social-community-medicine/people/doretta-caramaschi/index.html
Dr Tom Freeman (Bath) https://researchportal.bath.ac.uk/en/persons/tom-freeman
Dr Stan Zammit (Cardiff) https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/people/view/65357-zammit-stanley
Individuals with schizophrenia have a reduced life expectancy of up to 15 years. However, it is not well understood i) whether this is driven by poor physical health or also through accelerated mental ageing and ii) which genetic as well as modifiable lifestyle factors influence this acceleration.
This project focusses on healthy mental ageing in the general population and in individuals with schizophrenia. We will:
1. investigate how brain age links to a large number of phenotypes in the general population;
2. shed light into the genetic architecture of brain ageing;
3. identify how schizophrenia and linked modifiable lifestyle factors impact accelerated brain ageing.
Study 1 and 2 will be based on data from UK Biobank https://www.ukbiobank.ac.uk/
. We will derive a brain age measure and test associations with all phenotypes in UK Biobank. This will allow us to identify how brain ageing associates with a wide range of traits, including physical health (e.g. immune and cardiometabolic traits). Furthermore, we will carry out a genome-wide association analysis to shed light into the genetic architecture of brain ageing.
Study 3: To generate the largest study of brain ageing in schizophrenia, data will be analysed from the ENIGMA Schizophrenia Group http://enigma.ini.usc.edu/ongoing/enigma-schizophrenia-working-group/
. We will investigate brain age difference in patients and controls and how lifestyle factors (e.g., cannabis use, smoking, BMI) might affect these differences.
All three studies are highly innovative due to the interdisciplinary character, combining neuroscience, genetics and population health. Findings will have important implications with respect to healthy mental ageing across populations and in individuals with schizophrenia.
The successful applicant will be supervised by internationally recognised researchers in the field. The student will receive advanced training in genetic and epidemiological analyses (Bristol) and high-throughput neuroimaging computational data (training in Rotterdam and Boston). The student will also be encouraged to present at international conferences.
Applications are invited from excellent candidates with a First (1st) or Upper Second Class Honours degree (2:1) and/or Master’s level and/or equivalent professional practice in neuroscience, genetics, computer science, or related areas. Relevant research experience and programming knowledge in R would be advantageous. Informal enquiries about this studentship can be directed to Dr Walton at: [email protected]
IMPORTANT: In order to apply for this project, you should apply using the DTP’s online application form: https://cardiff.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/gw4-biomed-mrc-doctoral-training-partnership-student-appl
You do NOT need to apply to the University of Bath at this stage – only those applicants who are successful in obtaining an offer of funding form the DTP will be required to submit an application to study at Bath.
More information on the application process may be found here: https://www.gw4biomed.ac.uk/doctoral-students/
APPLICATIONS CLOSE AT 17:00 ON 25 NOVEMBER 2019.