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Musculoskeletal pain and frailty in an ageing population

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  • Full or part time
    Dr D Walsh
    Prof John Gladman
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

As average lifespan increases, numbers of years in good health struggle to keep pace. Accumulation of currently incurable conditions with increasing age leads to increasing health impairment and reduced quality of life. Musculoskeletal pain, for example due to osteoarthritis (OA), is increasingly prevalent, and, as well as directly causing distress, contributes to reduced independence and increases health care and societal costs. Knee OA, for example, causes severe pain and reduced mobility, and reduced activity and increasing sedentary behaviour contribute to increased morbidity and mortality. Understanding the link between knee pain and frailty should help develop and target treatments that facilitate healthy ageing.

This project takes advantage of the multidisciplinary research environment and patient cohorts developed in Nottingham within the NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre and Pain Centre Versus Arthritis. Our Musculoskeletal Health and Wellbeing survey is a questionnaire based research study which collects annual information from 5000 people with different degrees of pain and frailty. Our joint tissue repository has collected data and biosamples from 2500 patients undergoing joint replacement surgery for arthritis. This PhD project will (1) determine the course, predictors of, and interdependency between pain and frailty within the survey population, (2) invite selected participants for more detailed assessment in order to investigate mechanisms that might link musculoskeletal pain and frailty, and (3) identify novel treatment targets that might reduce pain and frailty, and stratification tools that would help target treatments to those who are most likely to benefit. The student will develop their skills in clinical and physiological assessment of participants, statistical analysis of large datasets, research design and governance. The student will also join the University’s Centre for Doctoral Training in Musculoskeletal Health and Pain, through which they will develop comprehensive skills to embark on a career in biomedical research. This project will be embedded within the NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre ( and the Pain Centre Versus Arthritis (

Award start date: 01/10/2019

Duration of award: 36 months

How to apply

Informal enquiries may be addressed to David Walsh Email: [Email Address Removed]. Applications, with a detailed CV and the names and addresses of 2 referees, should be made by email to [Email Address Removed]. Please quote ref. MED1531 .

Funding Notes

This studentship will provide a stipend (currently £14,777 per annum) and full payment of Home/EU tuition fees (currently £4,260 per annum). The successful applicant will be registered for the degree of PhD in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

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