Don't miss our weekly PhD newsletter | Sign up now Don't miss our weekly PhD newsletter | Sign up now

  Sans everything: sensory loss in the 7th age

   College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine

  , Prof Ian Underwood,  Tuesday, January 30, 2024  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Please ensure you check the eligibility criteria before applying to this project.

The Advanced Care Research Centre (ACRC) is an interdisciplinary, £20M research centre at the University of Edinburgh. The ACRC will lead society’s response to the grand challenge of an ageing population that is growing in size, longevity and needs through the pursuit of research intended to deliver “high‐quality data‐driven, personalised and affordable care to support the independence, dignity and quality‐of‐life of people living in their own homes and in supported care environments”.

This project sits within the ACRC Academy , a dedicated Centre for Doctoral Training, co-located with the ACRC, whose students will deliver key aspects of the ACRC research agenda through a new doctoral-level research and training programme that will also equip them for careers across a wide range of pioneering and influential leadership roles in the public, private and third sectors.

The PhD with Integrated Study in Advanced Care is a structured, thematic, cohort-based, programme of 48 months duration. Each PhD research project within the Academy has been devised by a supervisory team comprising academic staff from at least two of the three colleges within the University of Edinburgh. Each annual cohort of around twelve will include students with disciplinary backgrounds spanning from engineering and data science to humanities, social science, business and commerce, social work, medicine and related health and care professions. This unique level of diversity is a key attribute of our programme.


In this ACRC project, we revisit sensory loss, methods for community-based monitoring, diagnosis and rehabilitation in the context of aging and multi-morbidity. Sensory loss in older age rarely comes as a single dysfunction and the impact of dual or multiple impairments over the life course is far greater that in each isolation. We focus on eyes, ears and voice (refs 7-8) as three key determinants enabling life quality, effective communication and independent functioning. Each of these is amenable to assessment, monitoring and curation as a digital archive, kept securely and updated. The outputs, cross-linked to co-morbid diagnoses, repeat prescriptions and hospital episodes spanning primary and secondary care providers will be used as the model for designing a better informed care pathway than is currently available.

The goal of this PhD studentship is to lay the foundations for the design of a personalised digital wallet encapsulating vision, hearing and speech data, captured in the home and community setting, continually updated as an ‘evergreen’ passport for detecting change over time and designing a flexible, responsive and efficient integrated platform for integrated health and social care (refs 9-10). It moves beyond the current approach of isolated single specialty-driven treatments, to a new integrated patient-empowered paradigm, based on a holistic multimodal dataset, amenable to early diagnostics and preventative interventions. The outputs may also be usefully be harnessed using AI-enabled tools for referral triage, prediction modelling, risk reduction, multi-sensory rehabilitation and optimising quality of life throughout the 7th age.  


Applicants may come from one or more relevant backgrounds including medicine, informatics or engineering.

We are specifically looking for applicants who will view their cutting-edge PhD research project in the context of the overall vision of the ACRC, who are keen to contribute to tackling a societal grand challenge and who can add unique value to – and derive great benefit from – training in a cohort comprising colleagues with a very diverse range of disciplines and backgrounds. We advise prospective candidates to engage in dialogue with the named project supervisor and/or the Director of the Academy prior to submitting an application. 

We aim to foster a supportive and collaborative culture, and welcome candidates with diverse backgrounds and experiences. 

You must read How to apply prior to application

Please Apply here

Computer Science (8) Engineering (12) Medicine (26) Nursing & Health (27)

Funding Notes

PhDs are funded with an enhanced stipend for the full 4 year period.
The call is open to candidates of any nationality but funded places for overseas nationals will be strictly limited to 4 international students who can apply for the highly competitive ACRC Global Scholarship.
It is essential to read the How to Apply section of our website before you apply:
View Website
Please apply here:
View Website


Ge S, McConnell ES, Wu B, Pan W, Dong X, PlassmanBL. Longitudinal Association Between Hearing Loss, Vision Loss, Dual Sensory Loss, and Cognitive Decline. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2021 Mar;69(3):644-650. doi: 10.1111/jgs.16933. Epub 2020 Dec 1. PMID: 3325849
Tseng YC, Liu SH, Lou MF, Huang GS. Quality of life in older adults with sensory impairments: a systematic review. Qual Life Res. 2018 Aug;27(8):1957-1971. doi: 10.1007/s11136-018-1799-2. Epub 2018 Feb 5. PMID: 29404924
Zhang, X., Wang, Y., Wang, al. Association between dual sensory impairment and risk of mortality: a cohort study from the UK Biobank.BMC Geriatr22, 631 (2022).
Kuo PL, Huang AR, Ehrlich JR, Kasper J, Lin FR, McKee MM, Reed NS, SwenorBK, Deal JA. Prevalence of Concurrent Functional Vision and Hearing Impairment and Association With Dementia in Community-Dwelling Medicare Beneficiaries. JAMA Netw Open. 2021 Mar 1;4(3):e211558. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.1558. PMID: 33739429; PMCID: PMC8601132.
Heine C, Gong CH, Browning C. Dual Sensory Loss, Mental Health, and Wellbeing of Older Adults Living in China. Front Public Health. 2019 Apr 24;7:92. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2019.00092. PMID: 31069206; PMCID: PMC6491637
Marmamula, S., Kumbham, T.R., Modepalli, al.Depression, combined visual and hearing impairment (dual sensory impairment): a hidden multi-morbidity among the elderly in Residential Care in India.Sci Rep11, 16189 (2021).
Lin, YC., Yan, HT., Lin, al.Predicting frailty in older adults using vocal biomarkers: a cross-sectional study.BMC Geriatr22, 549 (2022).
Etter NM, Hapner ER, Barkmeier-Kraemer JM, Gartner-Schmidt JL, Dressler EV, Stemple JC. Aging Voice Index (AVI): Reliability and Validity of a Voice Quality of Life Scale for Older Adults. J Voice. 2019 Sep;33(5):807.e7-807.e12. doi: 10.1016/j.jvoice.2018.04.006. Epub 2018 May 7. PMID: 29748025.
Mercer S, Henderson D, Huang H, Donaghy E, Stewart E, Guthrie B, Wang H. Integration of health and social care: necessary but challenging for all. Br J Gen Pract. 2021 Sep 30;71(711):442-443. doi: 10.3399/bjgp21X717101. PMID:34593390; PMCID: PMC8463168.
Skou ST, Mair FS, Fortin M, Guthrie B, Nunes BP, Miranda JJ, Boyd CM, Pati S, Mtenga S, Smith SM. Multimorbidity. Nat Rev Dis Primers. 2022 Jul 14;8(1):48. doi: 10.1038/s41572-022-00376-4. PMID: 35835758; PMCID: PMC7613517

Register your interest for this project

Search Suggestions
Search suggestions

Based on your current searches we recommend the following search filters.