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Targeting BETA-Cell Failure in Lean Patients With Type 2 Diabetes

Project Description

Heart failure is a major health concern in patients with type 2 diabetes. While the focus of prevention in type 2 diabetes is on obesity, many people with type 2 diabetes are not overweight and it is poorly understood why lean people develop type 2 diabetes and how exactly this should be addressed.

Accumulating evidence suggest that type 2 diabetes of the lean is a separate condition from diabetes associated with increased weight, which demands its own, targeted treatment regimen. Lean-type 2 diabetes patients have a similar or even higher cardiovascular disease risk compared to their overweight counterparts.

This work will confirm whether type 2 diabetes is a heterogeneous group of diseases with diverse degrees of insulin sensitivity and pancreatic beta-cell function; it will allow us to determine the ideal treatment strategies for improving cardiovascular health in lean type 2 diabetes patients and better understand the roles of impaired insulin production capacity and resistance to insulin action specifically in this group.

This research will contribute to Diabetes UK’s goal of delivering improved health outcomes, addressing a significant gap in understanding of a relatively prevalent disease.


During your PhD training, you will receive rigorous training in research MR techniques and produce a portfolio of research involving cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging, Proton and Phosphorus-MR Spectroscopy, and in cardiac metabolism, working alongside preclinical and clinical scientists in a particularly interdisciplinary research environment.

You will learn to run a clinical trial providing you with exciting future opportunities in both academia and the pharmaceutical industry. The work arising from the project will be presented at international conferences and submitted to peer reviewed journals. As part of your training you will also be encouraged and supported in attending and presenting at all relevant national and international conferences.

You will be supervised by Prof Sven Plein and Dr Eylem Levelt, and you will join a large interdisciplinary team in the Division of Biomedical Imaging, which belongs to the Leeds Institute of Cardiovascular & Metabolic Medicine. Leeds offers an exciting and dynamic environment for graduate education. During the fellowship you will undertake training modules to develop generic research skills organized by the University of Leeds Staff and Departmental Development Unit.


You should hold, or expect to gain, a first degree equivalent to at least a UK upper second class honours degree in a relevant area of biology, chemistry, physiology or other appropriate discipline. You should not already have been awarded a doctoral degree previously to be eligible for this award.

The Faculty minimum requirements for candidates whose first language is not English are:
• British Council IELTS – score of 6.5 overall, with no element less than 6.0
• TOEFL iBT – overall score of 92 with the listening and reading element no less than 21, writing element no less than 22 and the speaking element no less than 23.

How to apply:

To apply for this project applicants should complete a Faculty Scholarship Application form using the link below https://medicinehealth.leeds.ac.uk/downloads/download/78/fmh_scholarship_application_form_2018_2019 and send this alongside a full academic CV, degree certificates and transcripts (or marks so far if still studying) to the Faculty Graduate School at

We also require 2 academic references to support your application. Please ask your referees to send these references on your behalf, directly to by no later than Monday 15 April.

Any queries regarding the application process should be directed to .

If you have already applied for other scholarships using the Faculty Scholarship Application form this academic year you do not need to complete this form again. Instead you should email to inform us you would like to be considered for this scholarship project.

Any queries regarding the application process should be directed to

Funding Notes

A PhD scholarship is available for UK and EU citizens only. The scholarship will attract an annual tax-free stipend of £17,000, increasing annually subject to satisfactory progress, and will cover the UK/EU tuition fees. The earliest start date available is 1 July 2019. This award is funded by Diabetes UK.

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