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Sport and Exercise Science: Fully Funded PhD Scholarship: The influence of dietary patterns on in vivo skeletal muscle and vascular characteristics across adult ages

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  • Full or part time
    Dr S Heffernan
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

This scholarship is funded by Swansea University’s College of Engineering.

Start date: January 2020

Subject areas: Nutrition, Muscle Physiology, Vascular Physiology

Project background and description:

Different dietary patterns (such as the Mediterranean and Plant-Based diets) are known to alter disease risk and status. It is globally recognised that consuming more plant-based foods is associated with reduced risk of developing age-related diseases, such as cardiovascular and type two diabetes. Recently, the Mediterranean diet, consisting largely of plant-based foods, moderate-to-low intake of fish, poultry, eggs and dairy, and low in meat products has been suggested to be ‘myoprotective’ in older adults. However, there is limited research investigating the effect of plant-based/plant-dominant dietary choices on in vivo muscle phenotypes/age-related muscular decline, with no studies considering osteosarcopenic phenotypes.

There is also growing interest in the role of alternative dietary choices in athletic populations and the effect that these choices may have on training adaptation and hence athletic performance. Recent studies have shown no difference in athletic performance between “vegan”, vegetarian and omnivores diets, but again there is no data on in vivo muscle phenotypes.

This funded PhD scholarship will focus on skeletal muscle, vascular and biochemical phenotypes of people consuming a largely, or entirely plant-based diet, compared to those consuming an omnivorous diet. The main phenotypic characteristics will include muscle function, architecture and size, and arterial structure and function, with secondary measures including circulating candidate biomarkers (e.g. myokines). We invite applicants with an interest and/or experience in nutrition, ultrasonography or muscle physiology to work in a progressive and diverse doctoral training environment, with an equally diverse supervisory team.

Candidates should hold a minimum of a 2.1 undergraduate degree and an MSc (or its equivalent) in Human/Muscle Physiology, Sports and Exercise Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Nutrition/dietetics.

Evidence of completing high-quality research projects at BSc and MSc level with excellent interpersonal skills is required. Experience working with ultrasound for in vivo muscle and vascular physiology is desirable but not necessary.

We would normally expect the academic and English Language requirements (IELTS 6.5 or equivalent result) to be met by point of application. For details on the University’s English Language entry requirements, please visit –

Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is open to UK/EU candidates only.

Funding Notes

This scholarship covers the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees and an annual stipend of £15,009.

There will be additional funds available for research expenses.

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