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Strategies to retard the decline in skeletal muscle mass and function in older age (Ref: SF20/SER/SAXTON)

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

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Prof J Saxton Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Skeletal muscle mass and function decline progressively in older age. Evidence suggests that maintenance of a healthy body composition, including skeletal muscle mass, is an important factor influencing metabolic health and functional independence in older people. In addition, studies show that low skeletal muscle mass (myopenia, sarcopenia, etc.) is associated with poorer response to treatments when older people are diagnosed with cancer, which now affects one in every two of us during our lifetime. This PhD programme will explore novel structured exercise and dietary approaches to increasing skeletal muscle mass and improving function in older people recruited from the local community. In collaboration with clinical colleagues, there will be scope to extend the research to investigations of how structured exercise and dietary interventions can be optimised in older people prior to surgical and other therapeutic treatments for cancer, with the aim of improving treatment outcome.

Eligibility and How to Apply:
Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g., SF20/…) will not be considered.
Deadline for applications: Open
Start Date: October 2020 or March 2021
Northumbria University is an equal opportunities provider and in welcoming applications for studentships from all sectors of the community we strongly encourage applications from women and under-represented groups.

Enquiries can be made to Prof John Saxton ([Email Address Removed])

Funding Notes

Please note, this is a self-funded project and does not include tuition fees or stipend; the studentship is available to Students Worldwide. Fee bands are available at . A relevant fee band will be discussed at interview based on project running costs


Faithfull S, Turner L, Joy M, Poole K, Manders R, Weprin J, Winters-Stone K, Saxton J (2019). Effect of prehabilitation on long-term patient outcomes in adults with cancer: a systematic review. European Journal of Cancer Care, Jul;28(4):e13023.

Turner RR, Steed L, Quirk H, Greasley RU, Saxton JM, Taylor SJ, Rosario DJ, Thaha MA, Bourke L (2018). Interventions for promoting habitual exercise in people living with and beyond cancer. Cochrane Database Systematic Review; September 19, 9:CD010192.
Ashton RE, Tew GA, Aning JJ, Gilbert SE, Lewis L, Saxton JM (2018). Effects of short-term, medium-term and long-term resistance exercise training on cardiometabolic health outcomes in adults: systematic review with meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine. Jun 22 [Epub ahead of print].
Banerjee S, Manley K, Shaw B, Lewis L, Cucato G, Mills R, Rochester M, Clark A, Saxton JM (2018). Vigorous intensity aerobic interval exercise in bladder cancer patients prior to radical cystectomy: a feasibility randomised controlled trial. Supportive Care in Cancer 26, 1515-1523.

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