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Impact of liver reduction diet, low calorie diet and bariatric surgery on hepatic health and cardiometabolic risk factors.

Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

About the Project

Obesity and its related co-morbidities, especially Type 2 Diabetes (T2DM), are a major source of disability and premature mortality from micro- and macro-vascular discease. Obesity is also one of the main risk factors for fatty liver disease and its more advances stages. Bariatric surgery has been shown to be highly effective at reversing both obesity and T2DM. It remains unclear as to what the exact mechanisms that drive the metabolic improvements are.

Recently, changes in the gut microbiome have been associated with the development of obesity and T2DM. In animal models, bariatric surgery has been shown to increase gut microbial diversity which in itself may be a key factor in the resolution of metabolic illness. Furthermore, the role of the gut microbiome in the development of and improvement in microvascular complications of T2DM in obese persons has not been studied. Bariatric surgery provides an excellent model in which to elucidate this further.

The objectives of this PhD project are studying:

1) In large cross-sectional study we assess presence of the following in a cohort of morbidly obese patients
a) fatty liver disease and its stages
b) microvascular complications of obesity (in none-diabetics only)

2) The impact of liver reduction diet on:
a) liver enzymes/biomarkers, FIB4 score, CK18 and fibroscan elastography.
b) Lipoproteins metabolism, HDL functionality.
c) systemic inflammation.
d) Microvascular complications of diabetes and obesity

3) The impact of very low calorie diet less than 800 calories per day on
a) Lipoproteins metabolism, HDL functionality.
b) systemic inflammation.
c) Microvascular complications of diabetes and obesity

4) The impact of bariatric surgery induced weight loss on biochemical markers of liver function and fatty liver disease, FIB4 score and fibroscan elastography.

Methods & Techniques:
These studies have already gained approval by the local research ethics committee. The successful candidate will recruit patients, organise research visits, train to undertake neuropathy assessments, liaise with the research biochemists and coordinate sample transfer and laboratory analysis, interpret the results and write papers and their PhD thesis. The successful candidate will be supported by his/her supervisor and co-supervisors as well as research nurses, a research coordinator and post doctorals and research technicians within the research team. The group has a good record of PhD and MD supervision, many PhDs and MDs are awarded under the supervision of the supervisory team.

Entry requirements:
Candidates are expected to hold (or be about to obtain) a minimum Upper Second Class Honours or a Merit (or equivalent) in a related area / subject. This project is suitable for medically qualified candidates, Dieticians, optometrists or qualified nurses with an interest in diabetes, obesity or ophthalmology. BSc, MSc or equivalent and previous research experience is desired.

For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website ( Informal enquiries may be made directly to the primary supervisor. On the online application form select PhD Endocrinology and Diabetes.

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. For more information please visit

Funding Notes

Applications are invited from self-funded students. This project has a Band 3 fee. Details of our different fee bands can be found on our website (View Website).

As an equal opportunities institution we welcome applicants from all sections of the community regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and transgender status. All appointments are made on merit.

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