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Targeted management of post-traumatic osteoarthritis

Project Description


Osteoarthritis (OA) affects roughly 8.75 million people in the UK and is a leading cause of chronic pain, disability and economic burden worldwide. Most OA research has focused on older adults, yet there is evidence that 3-10 years after a sport-related knee injury people as young as 15-26 years old have an 8.5-fold increased risk of post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA) compared to controls.

Currently there are no disease-modifying treatments for OA. This means that young people with early onset PTOA typically experience declining quality of life, comorbid health conditions, and symptoms that will place a chronic burden on the NHS across their lifespan. Moreover, as we promote physical activity participation to counteract the growing obesity pandemic, the number of people sustaining sport-related knee injury is likely to increase. Therefore, identifying early interventions for young people with PTOA is an important goal for maintaining individual health and wellbeing, and for minimising a rapidly growing demand on limited healthcare resources.

The project

This multidisciplinary studentship will examine mechanisms that might explain how knee PTOA is caused by joint injury and explore potential biochemical and biomechanical targets for early exercise-based OA treatment. It will also include evaluation of PTOA self-management technology for young, active people.

Leading to the completion of a PhD, the appointed candidate will undertake a systematic programme of research that includes:

- cross-sectional and longitudinal studies (cohort analysis to identify markers of PTOA progression)
- experimental/observational studies (evaluate the effects of self-management technology and other interventions on PTOA symptoms)

The successful applicant will gain expertise in a number of biochemical and biomechanical techniques, including: collecting, storing analysing and interpreting a range of blood borne biomarkers related to joint inflammation and joint tissue damage and/or; the assessment of biomechanical movement patterns and neuromuscular function measures related to OA disease progression.

In addition to gaining a repertoire of contemporary and advanced skills important for an academic or industrial career in clinical science, the successful candidate will start to establish a track record in a research area that will remain a worldwide priority for the foreseeable future. Working with colleagues of Dr McKay and Prof Bilzon (University of Bath), and Prof Folland (Loughborough University), there is scope to travel to other universities to build on collaborations, learn new research techniques, and expand on professional development opportunities.

Application criteria

Candidates with a background in exercise physiology, sport injury or a relevant clinical discipline (Bachelor or Master degree in Sport & Exercise Science, Physiology, Sport Medicine, Sport Physiotherapy, or a related field) are encouraged to apply.

Highly desirable skills and experiences:
• Research experience with human subjects
• Research experience in physiological or biomechanical data analysis
• Previous experience or enthusiasm to learn lab-based techniques (e.g., biomarker analysis)
• Knowledge of human anatomy/physiology
• Excellent written and oral communication skills
• Strong analytical and problem solving-skills
• Ability to work in an interdisciplinary team, be flexible and highly self-motivated

Preferred start date: 20 January 2020

Funding Notes

Applicants will be considered for a University studentship covering Home/EU tuition fees, a training support fee of £1,000 per annum and a tax-free maintenance allowance at the UKRI Doctoral Stipend rate (£15,009 2019/20) for a period of up to 3 years, full-time study.

How good is research at University of Bath in Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 22.00

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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