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  Relationships between gestational diabetes (GDM) subtypes and fetal growth and adiposity

   Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine

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  Dr S White, Dr Caroline Ovadia  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Gestational diabetes (GDM), defined by new onset hyperglycaemia in pregnancy, affects ~14% of pregnancies worldwide, and the prevalence is increasing. Short term impact includes increased fetal growth and associated complications through labour and birth, increased admission to the neonatal unit and an increase in caesarean section. The description of GDM as ‘new hyperglycaemia in pregnancy’ and a yes/no binary diagnosis of GDM suggests homogeneity, reinforcing the dogma that hyperglycaemia reflects a single pathological entity. This ‘one size fits all’ approach to screening, diagnosis, management and short and long-term maternal and neonatal risk is increasingly viewed as naïve, and poorly reflects the diversity seen in clinical settings.

Recent descriptions of 'subtypes' of GDM with distinct pathophysiological pathways to hyperglycaemia has led to a concerted effort to better describe differences in order to personalise treatment approaches. This studentship is embedded within a unique research study (UNiCoRN; Understanding the causes of hyperglycaemia in pregnancy) designed to characterise two different subtypes of GDM in women of White and South Asian ethnicity, and will use routine and specialised fetal ultrasound scanning to explore the effect of GDM subtypes on longitudinal fetal growth and fetal adiposity, with the ultimate aim of promoting precision management of GDM according to subtype.

UNiCoRN is a cutting-edge, innovative study, funded by the MRC, with the potential to make real change to the way gestational diabetes is viewed and managed globally. This is a truly exciting opportunity for an academic ultrasonographer with a special interest in diabetes research.

Your role:

You will be performing standard antenatal ultrasound (and would be expected to be competent in this) and will obtain training in specialist measures beyond routine practice, as well as co-ordinating some trial activities and performing statistical analyses in order to answer the research questions.

You will gain excellent clinical research experience, practical skills and research management expertise, as well as honing skills necessary to manage and analyse a large pregnancy dataset. There are wide opportunities for internal and external research training that would be of benefit, as well as gaining from the PI and Co-PIs' standing and involvement in global diabetes in pregnancy research. The training achieved in this PhD would greatly facilitate the career progression of the recipient as an academic allied health professional working in a clinical setting where diabetes is so commonly encountered.


  1. BSc (First class or 2.1) in radiography/midwifery or related field
  2. PgCert Obstetric ultrasound or equivalent (essential)
  3. MSc/MRes in medical imaging, ultrasound, or related field (desirable)
  4. Registered with the HCPC or NMC
  5. Minimum 1 year post qualification clinical experience of independently performing and reporting a range of obstetric ultrasounds (growth scans + Doppler essential)
  6. Exceptional patient care, attention to detail, organizational skills and time management skills.
  7. Ability to work both independently and as part of a team on a project.
  8. Eligible for home (UK) tuition fees
  9. Committed to equality, diversity and inclusion, actively addressing areas of potential bias.
  10. This position will suit a candidate with an interest in gestational diabetes and the impact of hyperglycaemia on fetal growth and adiposity. Experience in research data analysis is desirable.
  11. Experience of statistical packages desirable (e.g. Excel, SPSS, R etc)

English Language Requirements:

English language skills at Band B


Please visit the studentship website for information on application instructions.

Medicine (26)

Funding Notes

Funding is available for three years and covers:
1. Tuition fees (fulltime) for home (UK) students (£20,618)
2. Tax-free stipend of £20,900, 21,450 and 22,000 for the 3 years respectively
3. Costs for training and travel to conferences