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The diagnosis and assessment of respiratory disease with a novel technology

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

The diagnosis, assessment and management of many respiratory diseases (e.g. chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; COPD), is largely dependent on traditional lung function tests such as spirometry. However, these lung function tests can be distressing for patients to undertake, are frequently insensitive to early signs of disease, and are very poor predictors of long-term clinical outcomes. Clearly, new lung function technologies are needed, which are easy to perform, well tolerated by patients, and can provide better information to clinicians to guide their care.

The inspired sinewave technique (IST) is a novel method to measure respiratory and cardiovascular function which is simple to perform and only requires passive cooperation from patients (see recent references). While patients breathe normally, we add small and oscillating amounts of tracer gas into their inspired breath over a few minutes, and the concentrations they expire enter mathematical models of the lung to calculate values of respiratory function. This technique has been developed at the University of Oxford and is now being clinically tested within Kings College London.

We have recently received a collaborative NIHR research grant with the University of Oxford to test the IST device in patients with COPD at Kings College Hospital in London. Our aims are to compare the performance of the technology with traditional lung function tests and chest CT scans, in regards to their diagnostic sensitivity and their predictive ability of longer term outcomes such as risk of symptom exacerbation, future hospitalisation, and functional capacity.

A PhD student would have the opportunity to develop a variety of practical skills including full lung function testing (spirometry, body plethysmography, gas transfer, multi-breath nitrogen washout), the analysis of chest CT scans, basic clinical skills, data/statistical analysis, and the performance and technical development of the IST test. We are seeking a student who has (or will soon achieve) a postgraduate masters degree, or a 1st/2:1 undergraduate degree, in a physiology, biomedical sciences, healthcare, or sport science related subject area. Experience conducting research projects with patient participants would be highly desirable. Although not essential, any experience with standard lung function testing or biomedical engineering/mathematical modelling would also be desirable. All research-associated costs are covered by the NIHR grant, but applications are only open to students who are self-funded.

Funding Notes

All research costs are covered by the NIHR grant, but applications are only open to students who are self-funded.

References

Bruce R. M, Phan PA, Pacpaco E, Rahman NM, Farmery AD (2018). The inspired sine‐wave technique: A novel method to measure lung volume and ventilatory heterogeneity. Exp Physiol.103(5): 738-47

Bruce R. M, Crockett, D, Morgan, A, Tran, M, Formenti, F, Phan, P & Farmery, A (2019), 'Cardiac output monitoring in a porcine model using the inspired sinewave technique: a proof-of-concept study', British Journal of Anaesthesia.

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