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Molecular studies on the effects of ageing on the bladder and bowel (Ref: SF20/APP/RANSON)

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

About the Project

Ageing can result in a progressive loss of physiological function resulting in a reduced quality of life for elderly people. Significantly, many aged people suffer from bladder and bowel disorders, which can include constipation and/or incontinence-both faecal and urinary. However, therapies (including pharmacotherapy) for these conditions are far from ideal. In part, this is because the causes of constipation/incontinence are multifaceted and can include degenerative changes in both muscle and nervous tissues that facilitate bladder/bowel function. Studies in our laboratory have shown age-related changes in a variety of bladder/bowel cell types including autonomic (enteric) neurons, epithelial mucosa and interstitial cells. Currently studies are focussed on the molecular basis of these changes. Preliminary proteomic analysis has revealed that a number of proteins are differentially expressed in aged bowel, although these observations lack resolution. Thus, the proposed project will use a combination of laser-microdissection, proteomic analysis and immunocytochemistry to determine the intracellular changes in bladder/bowel cells in a mouse model of ageing. To facilitate this the Department of Applied Sciences is fully equipped with laser-microdissection facilities, fluorescent/confocal microscopes and a state-of the-art multi-omics laboratory. Long-term these studies have the potential to inform future drug treatment. . The principal investigator Dr Rachel Ranson has a continuing collaboration with Dr M. Jill Saffrey and Prof Gary Black who will act as co-supervisors on this project.

Eligibility and How to Apply:
Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications should include a covering letter that includes a short summary (500 words max.) of a relevant piece of research that you have previously completed and the reasons you consider yourself suited to the project. Applications that do not include the advert reference (e.g. SF20/…) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: 1st July for October start, or 1st December for March start
Start Date: October or March

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.

Please direct enquiries to Dr Rachel Ranson ()

Funding Notes

Please note, this is a self-funded project and does not include tuition fees or stipend; the studentship is available to Students Worldwide. Fee bands are available at View Website . A relevant fee band will be discussed at interview based on project running costs.


1. Fidalgo S., Patel B.A., Ranson R.N., Saffrey M.J., and Yeoman M.S. (2018). Changes in murine anorectum signaling across the life course. Neurogastroenterol Motil. e13426.

2. Gamage P.P.K.M., Patel B.A., Yeoman M.S., Ranson R.N., Saffrey M.J. (2018) Interstitial cell network volume is reduced in the terminal bowel of ageing mice. J Cell Mol Med. 00:1‐5.

3. Patel, B.A., Fidalgo, S., Wang, C., Parmar, L., Mandona, K., Panossian, A., Flint, M.S., Ranson, R.N., Saffrey, M.J. and Yeoman, M.S. (2017) The TNF-α antagonist etanercept reverses age-related decreases in colonic SERT expression and faecal output in mice. Sci Rep. 7, Article number 42754

4. Ranson, R. N. and Saffrey, M.J. (2015). Neurogenic mechanisms in bladder and bowel ageing. Biogerontology. 16(2), 265-84.

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