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Investigating the effects of milk lipid bioactives in cardiometabolic and cognitive health SSEHS/OM/EO

   School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

  Dr O Markey, Dr E O'Donnell  Friday, March 31, 2023  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Cardiometabolic diseases are a major global public health burden, with diet recognised as a key modulator of risk. Cardiometabolic disease risk factors, including obesity, elevated blood cholesterol levels, hypertension, and vascular dysfunction, are also a major determinant of age-related cognitive decline and dementia risk. Bioactive dairy components have the potential to influence cardiometabolic disease and dementia risk.

Cow’s milk contains unique, bioactive components called ‘complex milk lipids’ (i.e., milk phospholipids and sphingolipids) which can be substantially reduced by food processing techniques. Emerging human studies have reported a beneficial role of complex milk lipids in the regulation of blood cholesterol levels, including LDL-cholesterol concentrations. The potential impact of milk lipid supplementation on novel risk markers related to cardiometabolic health and cognitive function represents an important knowledge gap.

Our PhD project therefore aims to enhance understanding of the cardiometabolic and cognitive health benefits of milk lipid bioactives in middle-to-older-aged adult populations at increased risk of cardiovascular disease and dementia. The project will include a series of randomised controlled dietary intervention trials, with cardiometabolic and cognitive biomarkers. The successful applicant will be trained to carry out randomised controlled trials with blood collection and non-invasive vascular function techniques and will gain experience in dietary and accelerometer-based activity assessment. The project will be based within the East Midland’s National Centre of Sport and Exercise Medicine on the Loughborough University campus.


Primary supervisor: Dr Oonagh Markey

Secondary supervisor: Dr Emma O'Donnell

Entry requirements for United Kingdom

Applicants should hold a minimum of a BSc honours degree at 2:1 level (or equivalent) in a health-related science degree, such as nutrition, human biology, biochemistry, or physiology. A relevant MSc degree would be advantageous, but not essential.

International applications must also meet the standard institution English language requirements (IELTS 6.5 overall with 6.0 in each individual element [reading, writing, listening, and speaking]).

English language requirements

Applicants must meet the minimum English language requirements. Further details are available on the International website.

Find out more about research degree funding

How to apply

All applications should be made online. Under programme name, select School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences. Please quote the advertised reference number: SSEHS/OM/EO in your application.

To avoid delays in processing your application, please ensure that you submit the minimum supporting documents.

See studentship assessment criteria.

Apply now

Funding Notes

UK fee
Fully funded full-time degree per annum
International fee
Fully funded full-time degree per annum
Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, IT equipment and other support services. University fees and charges can be paid in advance and there are several methods of payment, including online payments and payment by instalment.
The studentship is for 3 years and provides a tax-free stipend of £17,668 per annum (22/23 rates, 23/24 rates TBC) for the duration of the studentship plus tuition fees at either the UK or International rate.


Bruno RS, et al. Cardiometabolic health benefits of dairy-milk polar lipids. Nutr Rev. 2021;79(S2):16-35. doi: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34879146/
Schverer M, et al. Dietary phospholipids: Role in cognitive processes across the lifespan. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2020;111:183-193. doi: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31945391/
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