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Rapid and Non-Invasive Sensors for Disease Monitoring

Project Description

Research project: The diagnosis and management of multiple severe conditions and chronic disease requires measuring the concentrations of hormones and other biomarkers. Typically this requires the patients to have blood test(s). Collecting specimens from elderly patients presents challenges for phlebotomists and other laboratory professionals. These challenges are both practical (e.g. patient mobility, costs associated with mobile phlebotomists) and physical (e.g. blood vessel changes, thinning of dermal layers, and susceptibility to bruising, hematomas and nerve damage). A sensing platform is proposed that couples directly with both lab-scale and portable spectroscopy to enable rapid and on-demand, sample collection, extraction and separation, direct from bodily fluids (i.e., saliva). This technology can enable non-invasive hormone testing that offers patient-friendly testing, encourages independence and promotes patient wellness for elderly populations. Using salivary cortisol/cortisone (as a biomarker of adrenal suppression) in patients using inhaled corticosteroids for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), this PhD project will aim to develop a novel sensing technique for integrated, in situ sample collection, separation, extraction and ionisation all from a single paper sensor.

Third supervisor: Jo Blair (Consultant / Honorary Professor)

For more details on the research project please contact the supervisors:
Dr. Simon Maher (School of Electrical Engineering and Electronics)
Dr. Daniel Hawcutt (Institute of Translational Medicine)

Please apply by sending CV and letter of application to Ms Diane Ashton

Training: The University of Liverpool is setting up a Doctoral Network in Technologies for Healthy Ageing to train the next generation of physical scientists and engineers to develop novel technologies and devices to address the challenges faced by older people and our clinical colleagues who work with them. It is structured around three healthy ageing challenges; prolonging independence, maintaining wellness and accelerating recovery.

All students will undertake a specific training programme in conjunction with their research project. A range of training modules have been designed to provide the student cohort with the high levels of scientific knowledge and engineering expertise needed for research and development of devices and technologies appropriate for the Healthy Ageing agenda. Through this approach our students will learn skills that will provide them with a unique advantage to develop technologies appropriate for this community and significantly enhance their employability in this emerging field. At the start of the programme students will have a masterclass session with a consultant in clinical geriatric medicine, a therapist and a social worker to introduce them to the challenges of the older person in the community through case studies. Each student will spend a week with a Consultant Geriatrician in clinics and community visits. This clinician will remain in contact with the student throughout their PhD in the role of a mentor to maintain the interface between their projects and the healthcare challenges. Innovative training sessions will ensure the training and research is grounded in real world challenges and have been constructed to provide Essential Transferable Skills and Subject Broadening Skills. The student will be a member of the Liverpool Doctoral College which provides further training opportunities over all three years of the PGR programme, and includes Inductions (general and safety), E-learning (e.g. Good Research Practice), seminars (presenting as well as attending), outreach opportunities and journal clubs.

Funding Notes

Studentships will be funded for 3.5 years covering the home fees and typical Research Council stipend.
Research Council Doctoral stipend levels and indicative fees for 2019
• National Minimum Doctoral Stipend for 2019/20 is £15,009
• Research Councils UK Indicative Fee Level for 2019/20 is £4,327

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