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Systems Biology Approach for Assessment of the Electro-Molecular Phenotype of Atrial Fibrillation, a University of Maastricht / University of Birmingham PhD Studentship

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  • Full or part time
    Dr L Fabritz
    Prof Monika Stoll
    Prof P Kirchhof
    Prof U Schotten
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is the most common sustained cardiac rhythm disorder present in 1 to 2% of the general population in Europe. Its prevalence is going to double in the next 50 years with ageing of our society. Thus, AF presents a rapidly growing social, medical, and public health problem in urgent need of a solution.
Individual molecular and electrophysiological mechanisms leading to AF are very diverse. For developing more effective therapeutic interventions knowledge on these individual mechanisms is of utmost importance (see references).

Using a cutting-edge electrophysiological and systems biology approach we aim to link differentially expressed atrial genes or enriched pathways in human atrial tissue to major changes in atrial physiology and the main histological characteristics of atrial tissue samples.

The student will be supervised by Dr Ulrich Schotten and Dr Monika Stoll, CARIM, University of Maastricht, and by Dr Larissa Fabritz and Dr Paulus Kirchhof, ICVS, University of Birmingham.

The work is feasible in a studentship as it is embedded in the long-standing collaboration between the supervisors and builds on ongoing joint projects (CATCH ME, EU HORIZON 2020) (
In addition to the supervisory team as above, there will be support from the wider research team members.

Graduates with European Citizenship can apply.
Applicants need to show that they achieve the required University of Birmingham IELTS score if applicable (average 6.5 overall and no less than 6.0 in any one category) and be willing to spend at least 1 year at one of the partner institutes.
The successful candidate will need to start in autumn 2018.

Mobile European citizen with a degree in any science, e.g. natural sciences, maths, informatics, physics, chemistry, biophysics, biochemistry, biology, any life science or medical sciences or a medical or veterinary degree.

Person Specification
Mobile European resident who achieves the required University of Birmingham IELTS score if applicable (average 6.5 overall and no less than 6.0 in any one category), and be willing to spend at least 1 year at one of the partner institutes.
The successful candidate will be registered as a PhD student at Birmingham University and will also be registered at Maastricht University.
The successful candidate will need to start in autumn 2018.

The research project and the thesis will need to fulfill the minimum requirements of both Universities in order for the student to obtain their joint degree.
The student will need to spend the first 2 - 3 months at Birmingham but after this time will spend time in Birmingham or Maastricht as to what fits best with the project research, including at least 1 year at one of the partner institutes CARIM and ICVS.

Experience with tissue handling, histology, electrophysiology, analysis of very large databases, using software such as SAS, R or Stata would be welcome but are not a prerequisite.
The applicant should hold or realistically expect to obtain at least the equivalent of an Upper Second Class Honours Degree, ideally in a relevant subject.
A Masters degree in the area outlined within this application is not a necessity, but could be advantageous. It will be preferable but not essential to have a commitment to cardiovascular research, and to have completed the FELASA C course.

How to apply

Informal enquiries should be directed to Dr Larissa Fabritz ([Email Address Removed]).

Enquiries and applications should be directed to the David Piela at the College MDS Graduate School at [[Email Address Removed]]

To apply, please send:

• A Detailed CV, including your nationality and country of birth;
• Names and addresses of two referees;
• A covering letter highlighting your research experience/capabilities and relevance to this application;
• Copies of your degree transcripts;
• Evidence of your proficiency in the English language, if applicable

Funding Notes

Funding Notes
This PhD Studentship is jointly supported by University of Birmingham (UK) and the Maastricht University (Netherlands) and provides a three year stipend (EU rates) and consumables costs.


Integrating new approaches to atrial fibrillation management: the 6th AFNET/EHRA Consensus Conference.
Kotecha D, Breithardt G, Camm AJ, Lip GYH, Schotten U, Ahlsson A, Arnar D, Atar D, Auricchio A, Bax J, Benussi S, Blomstrom-Lundqvist C, Borggrefe M, Boriani G, Brandes A, Calkins H, Casadei B, Castellá M, Chua W, Crijns H, Dobrev D, Fabritz L, Feuring M, Freedman B, Gerth A, Goette A, Guasch E, Haase D, Hatem S, Haeusler KG, Heidbuchel H, Hendriks J, Hunter C, Kääb S, Kespohl S, Landmesser U, Lane DA, Lewalter T, Mont L, Nabauer M, Nielsen JC, Oeff M, Oldgren J, Oto A, Pison L, Potpara T, Ravens U, Richard-Lordereau I, Rienstra M, Savelieva I, Schnabel R, Sinner MF, Sommer P, Themistoclakis S, Van Gelder IC, Vardas PE, Verma A, Wakili R, Weber E, Werring D, Willems S, Ziegler A, Hindricks G, Kirchhof P.
Europace. 2018 Mar 1;20(3):395-407. doi: 10.1093/europace/eux318.

European Society of Cardiology smartphone and tablet applications for patients with atrial fibrillation and their health care providers.
Kotecha D, Chua WWL, Fabritz L, Hendriks J, Casadei B, Schotten U, Vardas P, Heidbuchel H, Dean V, Kirchhof P; European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Atrial Fibrillation Guidelines Taskforce, the CATCH ME consortium and the European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA).
Europace. 2018 Feb 1;20(2):225-233. doi: 10.1093/europace/eux299.
PITX2-dependent gene regulation in atrial fibrillation and rhythm control.
Syeda F, Kirchhof P, Fabritz L.
J Physiol. 2017 Jun 15;595(12):4019-4026. doi: 10.1113/JP273123. Epub 2017 Apr 25. Review.

PITX2 Modulates Atrial Membrane Potential and the Antiarrhythmic Effects of Sodium-Channel Blockers.
Syeda F, Holmes AP, Yu TY, Tull S, Kuhlmann SM, Pavlovic D, Betney D, Riley G, Kucera JP, Jousset F, de Groot JR, Rohr S, Brown NA, Fabritz L, Kirchhof P.
J Am Coll Cardiol. 2016 Oct 25;68(17):1881-1894. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2016.07.766.

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