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Is there a causal association between insulin signalling and myopia pathogenesis?

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Sunday, September 01, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

We are looking for an enthusiastic and talented graduate in a relevant biomedical, statistics or health sciences discipline, wishing to develop strong interdisciplinary skills at the interface of genetic epidemiology, medical statistics and ophthalmology for an exciting 3-year PhD opportunity funded by the National Eye Research Centre. The studentship will investigate the links between glycaemic traits, insulin signaling and the pathogenesis of myopia in the Academic Department of Ophthalmology within Bristol Medical School, and through links with the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit, NIHR Bristol Biomedical Research Centre in Nutrition and Cardiff School of Optometry and Vision Sciences. The successful candidate will have access to an excellent training portfolio of short courses and transferable skills training and be part of a cross-disciplinary cohort of PhD students. They will be supervised by a team including Dr Denize Atan, Dr Cathy Williams, Professor Hamilton-Shield and Professor Guggenheim with expertise in genetic epidemiology, diabetes and myopia.

Research Aims

Myopia, or short-sightedness, is one of the most common causes of sight impairment worldwide. By 2050, five billion people- half the world’s population- will be short-sighted, compared to ~1.4 billion people today. Recent rises in myopia prevalence, particularly high myopia, are driven by increasingly earlier myopia onset and progression rates in childhood. We have shown that more time spent in education is a causal risk factor for myopia. The mechanisms underlying this relationship aren’t clear, but the results of animal and epidemiological studies have shown that reduced daylight exposure and near work, as well as increasing urbanization, socioeconomic position, diet, and prenatal factors are important.
Myopia prevalence is higher in countries adopting a Western diet and lifestyle and genes implicated in myopia pathogenesis from genome-wide association studies (GWAS) include genes involved in insulin/glucose signalling and obesity/fat metabolism. This project aims to determine how genetic and environmental factors interact with insulin signalling to affect myopia pathogenesis.

Candidate requirements

Applicants must hold/achieve a minimum of an upper second-class honours degree (or international equivalent) in a biological, statistics or related science or medical subject.

Interested and suitably qualified candidates should make informal contact with Dr Denize Atan (). The project is available to start between 1st October and 1st December 2019.

How to apply

Please make an online application for this project at Please select Faculty of Health Sciences and Translational Health Science PhD on the Programme Choice page. You will be prompted to enter details of the studentship in the Funding and Research Details sections of the form. Please ensure you have read our admissions statement before making an application. For general enquiries linked to the online application process, please email

Closing date: 9am, 1st September 2019.

Funding Notes

This is a fully-funded PhD Scholarship for UK/EU individuals which includes all tuition fees. Non-EU applicants are welcome to apply but would need to cover the difference between home and overseas fees.

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