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Investigation of retinal measures as an early biomarker of diabetes and chronic kidney disease in the Northern Ireland Cohort of Longitudinal Ageing (NICOLA)

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  • Full or part time
    Dr G McKay
    Prof A P Maxwell
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

*FUNDING CONFIRMED* - Readvertised Project

Interviews to take place Tuesday 20th June

Retinal assessment is possible through direct non-invasive visualisation of early changes prior to the onset of several chronic diseases with associated microvascular abnormalities including diabetic complications, cardiovascular disease(CVD), stroke and dementia. Measurement of retinal parameters from fundus and OCT images will be performed in the Northern Ireland Cohort for Longitudinal Ageing (NICoLA) participants and assessed with respect to vascular health and chronic conditions including diabetes, retinopathy, CVD, stroke and chronic kidney disease status. This study will provide indicators of vascular health in a cross-sectional cohort providing baseline measures for subsequent prospective analyses identifying early biomarkers of chronic disease. This approach may offer future clinical utility in the context of vascular health, particularly given the imaging technology is commonly available within the NHS through the diabetic retinopathy screening programmes that image nearly 3 million people with diabetes per year and is also commonly utilised in many high street opticians.


Candidates should have or expect to obtain a 2:1 or higher Honours degree or equivalent in a relevant biomedical or life sciences subject.

English Language

Candidates applying from countries where the first language is not English should produce evidence of their competence through a qualification such as IELTS or TOEFL score.

The minimum recommended score for the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Science is:
• IELTS score of 6.0 with not less than 5.5 in each of the four component elements of listening, reading, speaking and writing taken within the last 2 years;
• TOEFL score of 80+ (internet basted test), taken within the last 2 years, with minimum component scores of; Listening 17, Reading 18, Speaking 20, Writing 17);
• A valid Certificate of Proficiency in English grade A or B;
• A valid Certificate of Advanced English grade A; or
• A first or upper second class honours degree from a university based in the UK, Republic of Ireland or other suitably quality assured location in a country deemed by the UK Border Agency to be majority English speaking.

For a list of English Language qualifications also accepted by the School and University please see the following link:

The English Language Unit (ELU) offers both pre-sessional and in-sessional courses in English for academic purposes and study skills. Courses vary in length and full information can be obtained from the ELU

Funding Notes


DEL Research Studentships (Interviews to take place 20th June)

Eligibility for both fees and maintenance (£14,553 for 2017-18) depends on the applicants being either an ordinary UK resident or those EU residents who have lived permanently in the UK for the 3 years immediately preceding the start of the studentship.

Non UK residents who hold EU residency may also apply but if successful may receive fees only.

For further details re eligibility criteria (including academic, citizenship and residency criteria) please click on the following link:


Please visit the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Centre for Public Health, website for further details about the Centre:

When applying, please choose 'MEDICINE' as your subject area/School.

Related Subjects

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