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(MRC DTP) Understanding the social and molecular basis of ethnic variations in response to viral infections including Covid 19 - a health path multi-omics investigation

Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

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Prof K Muir , Dr A Lophatananon No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The ethnic minorities have lower levels of understanding of health and prevention activities. This is in part cultural, part behavioral and part opportunity. This has led to poor outcomes following Covid-19 infections but also relates to other health outcomes in general including diabetes and other chronic diseases. To further understand these issues, the plan is to work with a range of groups to understand the key drivers of these poor outcomes both in terms of their social, biological and genetic determinants

In this project, the successful student will therefore work with several groups across Trafford, Greater Manchester where the Covid 19 infection rates have continued to require ongoing additional lock down measures. These groups include the Voice of Black and Minority Ethnic groups, The Pakistan Council and other groups in Trafford to evaluate an approach based on using the combined strengths of local health “mentors”, informative biological profiling and adaptive health marketing approaches to investigate how successful a community based approach is at engaging and improving the fitness and resilience of key ethnic populations.

This project will be facilitated by our epidemiological group’s established links with VBME-T, Trafford Council, The Manchester Business School and the Manchester NIHR Biomedical Research Centre.

The project will undertake a large-scale survey of social and living conditions together with a nested sero-prevalence study of how many participants have been infected and by what likely route. We will also investigate the immunological, epigenetic and genetic basis of underlying predisposing and ageing profiles in determining the outcomes and whether informing individuals of such underlying states increases motivation to changes health related behaviours.

The project tasks include 1) to profile 1000 individuals and 2) to work with the Trafford Council to improve their health profile beyond just conventional fitness measures to include making demonstrable improvements in biological based health measures indicative of future multi-morbidities. Trafford council are funding this initiative and have commissioned the Liva Healthcare to provide fitness and well-being coaching and associated data collection in collaboration with our group. We will work with this initiative to perform the analyses and evaluations.

Taken together, this project aim to further understand why the ethnic minority groups have poor outcomes to infections including Covid-19 and also to inform an approach on how to work with key ethnic groups to enhance their health resilience to this and future infectious disease outbreaks and chronic disease risks as well. Going forwards, this will help enhance these communities as well as improving our knowledge of the key drivers of the higher risk seen.

Prof Kenneth Muir:
Dr Artitaya Lophatananon:

Entry Requirements:
Applicants must have obtained, or be about to obtain, at least an upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject.

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 MRC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) website

Funding Notes

Funding will cover UK tuition fees/stipend only. The University of Manchester aims to support the most outstanding applicants from outside the UK. We are able to offer a limited number of bursaries that will enable full studentships to be awarded to international applicants. These full studentships will only be awarded to exceptional quality candidates, due to the competitive nature of this scheme.

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
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