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(MCRC Clinical) Imaging and biological markers of sarcopenia development in frail, multimorbid patients

Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

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Dr Andrew Green , Dr A McWilliam , Prof A Choudhury , Dr Tim Smith No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Sarcopenia is a degenerative condition where muscle mass and function are lost through the process of ageing, or because of lifestyle factors; as such it is considered a powerful biomarker for frailty. Sarcopenia is typically measured on CT, extracting muscle area or density at the 3rd lumber vertebra. Studies have shown that sarcopenia is predictive for cancer-related outcomes, including overall survival, disease free survival and development of toxicities. These results generalise across disease sites and treatment methods. Sarcopenia can be assessed by determining the amount of muscle using CT or MR images, and using methods such as grip strength and bioelectrical impedance analysis.

Sarcopenia is linked with low grade inflammation. Recent work has established links between sarcopenia and blood biomarkers, identifying potential inflammatory markers of the condition. This project aims to further deepen the understanding of the biological aspects of sarcopenia in a cancer population. We will combine imaging derived measures of sarcopenia with biological markers, focusing on haematologic, cytokine and genetic data. Preliminary studies have linked these markers with sarcopenia, but to date none have studied the longitudinal development of sarcopenia, alongside associated biology, throughout the course of cancer treatment.

With a combined imaging and biological definition of sarcopenia, this project will develop a robust composite frailty biomarker for use clinically in an ageing, multi-morbid patient population. This quantitative score will augment established ECOG or frailty scores to account for baseline sarcopenia and likely trajectory during treatment.

Though sarcopenia has been shown conclusively to be a detrimental factor, to date there has been no effective intervention or alteration to treatment to account for patients’ sarcopenia. This project will investigate ways to make a real difference to patients aiming to bring sarcopenia measures into the clinic.

Entry Requirements:
Candidates must be post-registration clinicians and ideally, have a specialist post in a related subject. It is generally expected that CRTFs would return to a training programme in the UK upon completion of their research degree.

UK applicants interested in this project should make direct contact with the Primary Supervisor to arrange to discuss the project further as soon as possible. International applicants (including EU nationals) must ensure they meet the academic eligibility criteria (including English Language) as outlined before contacting potential supervisors to express an interest in their project. Eligibility can be checked via the University Country Specific information page (

If your country is not listed you must contact the Doctoral Academy Admissions Team providing a detailed CV (to include academic qualifications – stating degree classification(s) and dates awarded) and relevant transcripts.

Following the review of your qualifications and with support from potential supervisor(s), you will be informed whether you can submit a formal online application.

To be considered for this project you MUST submit a formal online application form - full details on how to apply can be found on the CRUK Manchester Centre PhD Training Scheme (MCRC) website

General enquiries can be directed to [Email Address Removed].

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester and is at the heart of all of our activities. The full Equality, diversity and inclusion statement can be found on the website

Interview date – 8 January 2021

Funding Notes

The clinical fellowships are usually tenable for three years, although in certain circumstances they may be four years duration. We will provide running expenses, an appropriate salary in line with the applicant’s current salary and grade, and full coverage of University UK PhD fees. The University of Manchester aims to support the most outstanding applicants from outside the UK. Due to the competitive nature of this scheme, we are only able to offer a limited number of tuition fee bursaries to be awarded to international candidates of exceptional quality.

Three year project. Entry point: April 2021 or October 2021
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