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Precision Biomarkers of pre-eclampsia


   Warwick Medical School


About the Project

PhD in Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research

Fully funded studentship available for entry in September 2021

This industrial Collaborative Award in Science and Engineering (iCASE) studentship is offered by Warwick’s MRC Funded Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP). The training program involves an exciting one-year MSc in Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research and then a three-year PhD project, co-supervised by experts from both academia and industry.  Students join a dynamic DTP community, which includes advanced workshops, transferable skills training, careers support and cohort learning events and conferences with ~50 other students.

We are constantly working to create a supportive and inclusive environment to help students achieve their best potential, through promoting equality and challenging discrimination. We want our students to feel heard and valued for their hard work. We welcome and encourage applications from minoritised groups that are under-represented in academia.

Project summary:

Preeclampsia is a serious complication of pregnancy, and a leading cause of maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality worldwide. The clinical presentation of preeclampsia can vary tremendously, making prediction, diagnosis and assessment of disease progression difficult. Defective angiogenesis and widespread maternal endothelial dysfunction is a cardinal feature of the pathogenic mechanism, leading to defective placentation and deranged release of pro-/anti-angiogenic factors soluble Flt1 (sFlt1) and placental growth factor (PlGF) into the maternal circulation. The sFlt-1/PLGF ratio is the first routine diagnostics blood test used for the evaluation and risk stratification of women presenting with pre-eclampsia signs and symptoms. Nevertheless, there is an unmet need for development of additional tests and biomarkers to improve characteristics and predictive performance of the sFlt-1/PLGF ratio.

The project which will be carried out jointly with the UHCW Pathology Institute of Precision Diagnostics and Translational Medicine, will explore whether the prognostic yield of the sFlt-1/PlGF ratio can be enhanced through measurement of additional predictive trophoblast and endothelial biomarkers. In parallel, the project will investigate the mechanisms by which factors controlling angiogenesis and trophoblast invasion may be regulated, employing in vitro cellular models of trophoblast invasion and differentiation and endothelial cell angiogenesis.

Clinical Partner: Institute of Precision Diagnostics & Translational Medicine, University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust 

PROGRAMME CONTENT

MSc (Year One)

Students undertake a series of taught modules, including Frontier Techniques in Biomedical Research, Physical Biology of the Cell, Microscopy and Imaging, Mathematical Modelling, Mass Spectrometry, and two laboratory-based research projects. 

PhD (Years Two, Three and Four)

Student support

Students receive outstanding mentoring, careers and pastoral support throughout the programme.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS, FUNDING AND HOW TO APPLY

Entry requirements

Candidates must have:

·      An excellent undergraduate degree (2:i or above) in a relevant biological or biomedical science subject.

·      Advanced skills in mathematics (A-Level or international equivalent), and a background and/or interest in data science would be an asset.

Importantly, we are looking for a highly motivated and enthusiastic team member with a strong interest in developing skills in translation of biomedical research into clinical care. This is a truly multidisciplinary project that brings together a combination of lab-based experimental skills appropriate for the study of the molecular mechanisms of disease and data science relevant to diagnostics and laboratory medicine. This will include descriptive statistics and development of biomarker-based statistical models using real-world patient samples and data. In addition, the student should be a critical thinker, work independently, and have excellent communication skills with the ability to work collaboratively within and outside of the laboratory.

How to apply

If you are interested in joining our DTP community, please apply by 15 February 2022. Interviews will take place in the week commencing 4 April 2022.

For further information please see warwick.ac.uk/mrcdtp


Funding Notes

Studentships cover full fees, consumables, conference attendance and an annual stipend (£18,340 in 2022/23*). Students can also apply for additional funding from the DTP for advanced training workshops, international or industry placements, internships and career transition support.
* Estimated stipend amount; exact figure to be confirmed

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