Applications are invited for a 3-year PhD studentship to work in the Division of Neurology, Department of Brain Sciences, Faculty of Medicine of Imperial College London at the Hammersmith Hospital Campus.
Title: PhD studentship in Global Health
Keywords: Global Health, Dementia, Cognitive Impairment, Psychology, Cognitive Neuroscience, Social Determinants of Health
Dementia is one of the greatest health challenges of our century, especially in low- and middle-income countries where health systems are poorly equipped to cope with rapidly aging populations and associated chronic disease. Dementia is a particular problem in Latin America: specialist clinicians are few, diagnosis levels are low and the social and economic burden of care is borne almost entirely by over-stretched family members. This PhD studentship will focus on developing and analysing novel tools for assessing cognition in marginalised communities in Peru and is part of a large, international project on dementia and health systems in Latin America called IMPACT Dementia.
The IMPACT project is developing novel health care solutions for people with dementia and their carers in Peru and across Latin America. IMPACT is funded through the Global Health Policy and Systems Research programme of the NIHR. The project is a major new partnership between the Department of Brain Sciences (https://www.imperial.ac.uk/brain-sciences/) at Imperial College London and the CRONICAS research group (https://cronicas-upch.pe) at the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (UPCH) in Peru, and involves other academic centres in the UK including the universities of Oxford, Cardiff and Edinburgh as well as a global advisory board. The co-Principal Investigators of IMPACT are Dr Chris Butler (ICL) and Dr Sofía Cuba (UPCH, Peru). The multidisciplinary IMPACT team includes researchers, policy makers and community representatives working across 5 inter-related work packages (WP): WP1) health systems readiness; WP2) diagnosis of dementia; WP3) interventions for people living with dementia and their caregivers; WP4) health economics, and WP5) project management, engagement with stakeholders, communications and outreach. The project is working in four study across Peru: Lima, the capital of Peru, a highly urbanized city located in the central coast, with more than 10 million inhabitants; Tumbes, a semiurban region on the northern coast of Peru (near to the border with Ecuador), with 225,000 inhabitants; Huancayo, a city with 460,000 inhabitants, located in the central highlands at 3200 meters above sea level, and the commercial centre of the central Andes; and Iquitos, the largest city of the Peruvian jungle, with 380,000 inhabitants, but still with indigenous communities in the surrounding area. All project activities are overseen by the Executive Committee, consisting of the Principal Investigators, Work Package Leads, and the UK and Peru project managers.
This PhD project will sit within IMPACT work package 2, developing novel tools to improve dementia diagnosis. A major challenge in low- and middle-income countries such as Peru is the assessment of cognition and its decline in people with different educational and social backgrounds from those in which traditional neuropsychological instruments have been developed and standardised. New ways of measuring cognition using mobile technology and insights from experimental psychology provide novel opportunities for large-scale, real-world, translational research on early detection and longitudinal follow-up of cognitive decline in diverse, low resource settings. This project will leverage the large IMPACT cohort of older adults in Peru to examine a range of emerging cognitive tools as well as develop and implement bespoke tests to measure memory, language, executive function, attention, social cognition and a range of other cognitive domains. The PhD student will take a role in designing the tests and collecting cognitive data as well as analysing it alongside other demographic, clinical, biomarker and genetic data. Depending on the profile of the student, a particular focus could be the collection and analysis utilising machine learning techniques of natural language data.
The main academic supervisor of the PhD student will be Dr Chris Butler, Reader in Global Brain Health at Imperial College London with co-supervision from Professor Adam Hampshire (Imperial College London). The studentship is for three years, is funded by the NIHR and is specifically aimed at attracting a top-class student from Latin America. The successful applicant will be joining an internationally renowned research group, within one of the world’s top research universities. The Department of Brain Sciences has an excellent publication record in top rated research journals and is well funded from a wide range of sources.
About the Candidate
To be eligible for the Studentship, students must be a Latin American citizen and be fluent in Spanish.
Applicants must have or expect to have obtained the overseas equivalent of at least a 2:1 UK undergraduate degree (see here for explanation of UK degree grading system) in a relevant field including psychology, neurology, cognitive neuroscience, computational neuroscience or a related area. A Masters degree is desirable but not essential. Experience with computer programming, cognitive assessment, and assessing neurological patients are desirable.
The student must also satisfy the usual eligibility criteria, including adequate academic qualifications https://www.imperial.ac.uk/study/pg/apply/requirements/. Applicants must also meet Imperial College’s English language requirements – further details can be found at https://www.imperial.ac.uk/study/pg/apply/requirements/english/ .
Enquiries and full applications including a letter of interest, an up-to-date curriculum vitae and the names and addresses of two academic referees should be sent to Dr Chris Butler ([Email Address Removed]).
We regret that due to the large volume of applications, we are only able to notify those shortlisted for interview.
The start date for the candidate is January 2024