Programme of Study:
MPhil/PhD Clinical and Biomedical Sciences, within the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences.
This PhD Studentship will be delivered within the laboratories of the award-winning Academic Department of Blood Sciences at the Royal Devon University Hospital in collaboration with the University of Exeter Diabetes research team. You will be working at the interface between science and medicine and will be supervised by a mix of Academic Scientists and Clinicians.
The team has designed, developed and tested a national patient led home finger prick blood collection and laboratory testing service. This innovation allows clinicians around the country to request blood collecting kits to be sent directly to their patient’s home. Blood is collected by the patient from their finger and the blood is posted directly back to the central laboratory for analysis.
This system makes laboratory testing more convenient and accessible to remote, vulnerable and hard to reach patient groups transforming patient care.
The aim of this PhD is to develop new and innovative patient led remote blood testing technology to revolutionise how laboratory tests are performed in the future.
The objectives will be to:
• Assess and develop state-of-the-art patient led blood taking modalities (including transcutaneous micro-needle patch technology)
• Determine test comparability of novel patient led blood taking devices with traditional phlebotomy
• Develop a novel ultra-sensitive assay for the diabetes hormone Glucagon using Single Molecular Array technology
• Assess factors that determine success of patient led blood collection (who can do it and why)
• Develop a best practice framework for evaluating diagnostic accuracy and utility of capillary based blood testing.
The outcome of this PhD studentship will be a greater understanding of what pathology tests can be performed on blood specimens collected at home by patients without support from a healthcare worker. We will learn what are the success factors and barriers to this type of testing- ‘who can do it and why’. The impact could be transformational in the way healthcare workers and researchers order pathology tests in the future making the process more convenient, accessible, cheaper and more environmentally sustainable.
This PhD will suit anyone with a scientific background in biology, chemistry or laboratory medicine.
You will be joining an experienced, supportive, dynamic and successful supervisory team who will guide you through this PhD. You will be supported to undertake a rigorous programme of personal development in academic skill including specific training in laboratory method evaluation, data handling and diagnostic accuracy statistics.
NIHR Exeter BRC Commitment
This Studentship will be nested within the National Institute of Health and Care Research Exeter Biomedical Research Centre (NIHR Exeter BRC), hosted by the Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with the University of Exeter and in collaboration with South West NHS organisations. The first of its kind for the South West peninsula, the Centres fundamental objective is to improve health outcomes for patients and the public by translating scientific breakthroughs into potential new treatments, diagnostics and medical technologies.
This studentship will provide the opportunity to work with world-leading researchers and have access to state-of-the-art facilities. The NIHR Exeter BRC are committed to developing and nurturing a diverse and rich pipeline of talented researchers by equipping them with the knowledge and skills to excel and contribute significantly to the local and national economy via the delivery of high-quality and impactful translational biomedical research. Expertise will be harnessed from across the partnership to deliver the best possible training and career development opportunities, with the student provided the opportunity to be embedded in a rich research culture, with a growing body of early career researchers.
We are delighted to have already recruited some exceptionally talented researchers at various career stages to our NIHR Exeter BRC, including Senior Investigator Fellows, Translational Fellows and our first cohort of PhD students who started with us in September.
It should be noted that funding will not allow all projects to be appointed to, as such, the top performing candidates as chosen by the selection panels will be matched to their project of choice and only these will be awarded. You are able to apply for up to two projects being advertised within this funding round.
Fees and funding
For eligible students, the studentship will cover Home tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £18,622 (in alignment with standard Research Council UK rate) for 3 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study, in addition to a Research Training and Support Grant (RTSG). The student would be based at the Research, Innovation, Learning and Development (RILD) building based at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital site in Exeter, near to the St Lukes Campus.
*Students who pay international tuition fees are eligible to apply, but should note that the award will only provide payment for part of the international tuition fee and no stipend. International applicants need to be aware that you will have to cover the cost of your student visa, healthcare surcharge and other costs of moving to the UK to do a PhD.
The conditions for eligibility of home fees status are complex and you will need to seek advice if you have moved to or from the UK (or Republic of Ireland) within the past 3 years or have applied for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.
The closing date for applications is midnight on Tuesday 2nd January 2024.
Interview panels will be held virtually in late January/ early February 2023 for a September 2024 start.
If you would like to discuss the studentships further, please contact the primary supervisor as stated in the advert. If you have any queries surrounding the application process or the BRC more generally, please contact Dr Sophie Gould (NIHR Exeter BRC Training and Events Manager) at [Email Address Removed].