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Psychological issues in congenital skin disorders

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  • Full or part time
    Dr W Davies
    Dr T Humby
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Many skin disorders are associated with psychological issues, which may arise from either stigma associated with the skin condition and/or from loss of function of the underlying genes which act in both the skin and the brain; additionally, these disorders may be associated with medical comorbidities which could have effects on quality of life.

Our work focusses on X-linked ichthyosis (XLI), a genetic condition associated with significantly increased risk of developmental/mood disorders and associated symptoms (e.g. ADHD, autism spectrum conditions, inattention, depression-anxiety, irritability), as well as heart problems (arrhythmia)[1-3]. Other work in Cardiff has demonstrated a link between the rare genetic skin condition Darier disease and neuropsychiatric symptoms [4].

Using established online survey-based methods [5], in combination with face-to-face interviews/neuropsychological testing in existing and newly-recruited participant cohorts, we aim to: a) further specify the prevalence, nature, and impact of psychological issues in rare congenital skin conditions, b) understand the underlying processes giving rise to these issues, and c) investigate attitudes towards participation in a possible screening programme for arrhythmia within an XLI patient cohort.

The findings of this project will be of direct relevance to patients and dermatologists involved in their care, and the student will work with clinicians, relevant charities (e.g. Ichthyosis Support Group (UK)) and social media platforms to disseminate key findings.

The studentship will commence in October 2020 and will cover your tuition fees (at UK/EU level) as well as a maintenance grant. In 2019-2020 the maintenance grant for full-time students was £15,009 per annum. As well as tuition fees and a maintenance grant, all School of Psychology students receive conference and participant money (approx. £2250 for the duration of the studentship).They also receive a computer, office space and access to courses offered by the University’s Doctoral Academy and become members of the University Doctoral Academy.

As only one studentship is available and a very high standard of applications is typically received, the successful applicant is likely to have a very good first degree (a First or Upper Second class BSc Honours or equivalent) and/or be distinguished by having relevant research experience.

You can apply online - consideration is automatic on applying for a PhD in Psychology, with an October 2020 start date (programme code RFPDPSYA). Please use our online application service and specify in the funding section that you wish to be considered for School funding. Please specify that you are applying for this particular project and the supervisor.

Funding Notes

This studentship is open to Home, EU or international students.

The award offered will cover Home/EU fees and maintenance stipend.

International candidates are welcomed but must be able to self-fund the difference between Home/EU and International fees


1. Chatterjee S, Humby T, Davies W. (2016) Behavioural and Psychiatric Phenotypes in Men and Boys with X-Linked Ichthyosis: Evidence from a Worldwide Online Survey. PLoS One 11(10):e0164417
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0164417

2. Cavenagh A, Chatterjee S, Davies W. (2019) Behavioural and psychiatric phenotypes in female carriers of genetic mutations associated with X-linked ichthyosis. PLoS One 14(2):e0212330
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0212330

3. Brcic L, Underwood JFG, Kendall KM, Caseras X, Kirov G, Davies W (2020) Medical and neurobehavioural phenotypes in carriers of X-linked ichthyosis-associated genetic deletions in the UK Biobank. Journal of Medical Genetics (in press)

4. Gordon-Smith K, Green E, Grozeva D, Tavadia S, Craddock N, Jones L. (2018) Genotype-phenotype correlations in Darier disease: A focus on the neuropsychiatric phenotype. Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 177(8):717-726 doi: 10.1002/ajmg.b.32679

5. Davies W (2016) Insights into rare diseases from social media surveys. Orphanet J Rare Dis. 11(1):151 doi:10.1186/s13023-016-0532-x

How good is research at Cardiff University in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 69.33

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