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PhD in the renal-bone axis, inflammation and diet (SCHOENMAKERS_U23FMH)

   Norwich Medical School

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  Dr I Schoenmakers  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Vacancy for a PhD studentship in the Musculoskeletal Medicine Group (  

Signalling between the kidney and bone (the renal-bone axis) plays a central role in the maintenance of a healthy bone phenotype. Ageing is associated with renal impairment, bone loss, increased inflammation and resistance to regulating hormones and consequently changes in the renal-bone axisi, ii. Slowing these ageing processes contributes to maintaining health into older age.  

The mechanisms of these age-related changes and the effects of non-pharmacological interventions (diet, vitamin D) are poorly understood. When renal impairment progresses and chronic kidney disease (CKD) develops, the majority of patients also develop CKD-metabolic bone disease (CKD-MBD) or osteoporosisiii, iv.  

In the early stages of renal impairment, patients are recommended to follow a diet high in fruit and vegetables and low in saturated fats, similar to DASH or Mediterranean diets and to ensure sufficient calcium and vitamin D intakes. The evidence-base from intervention studies with CKD-MBD outcomes is however very limitediii, iv, v. 

The PhD student will investigate the effects of dietary patterns and interventions on the risk and progression of CKD-MBD. Initially, existing publications and data will be utilised (meta-analyses and systematic review). In the second phase, a laboratory project will be undertaken to investigate the effect of interventions on mechanistic pathways and clinical and intermediate health outcomes.  

This work is anticipated to influence population and patient guidelines and result in at least 2 high impact scientific papers and presentations at 1 or more international conferences.  

Person specification 

Applicants should have an interest in statistical analyses, nutrition, endocrinology and laboratory work and should have a 2.1 Hons degree or equivalent in a relevant subject (e.g. biochemistry, physiology, medicine).  

Informal enquiries are welcomed to Dr Inez Schoenmakers ([Email Address Removed]).  

For information about research at the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of East Anglia, visit

Funding Notes

This PhD project is in a Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences competition for funded studentships. These studentships are funded for 3 years and comprise UK fees, an annual stipend of £17,668 and £1,000 per annum for research training (RTSG). Overseas applicants (including EU) may apply but are required to fund the difference between Home and International tuition fees.


Christodoulou, M.T., et al., Schoenmakers, I. Vitamin D supplementation for 12 months in older adults alters regulators of bone metabolism but does not change Wnt signalling pathway markers. JBMR Plus, 2022.

Christodoulou, M.T., et al., Schoenmakers, I. Early renal impairment affects hormonal regulators of calcium and bone metabolism and Wnt signalling and the response to vitamin D supplementation. JBMR, 2021. 36(Suppl1); The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 2022; under review

Christodoulou, M., T.J. Aspray, and I. Schoenmakers, Vitamin D Supplementation for Patients with Chronic Kidney Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-analyses of Trials Investigating the Response to Supplementation and an Overview of Guidelines. Calcif Tissue Int, 2021. 109(2): p. 157-178.

Rysz, J., et al., The Influence of Dietary Interventions on Chronic Kidney Disease-Mineral and Bone Disorder (CKD-MBD). Nutrients, 2021. 13(6).

Liu, Z., et al., Dietary interventions for mineral and bone disorder in people with chronic kidney disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev, 2015. 2015(9): p. Cd010350.
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