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The impact of high resolution spatiotemporal environmental data on healthcare decision making at the hospital trust scale

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  • Full or part time
    Dr J Vande Hey
    Prof K Abrams
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

There is considerable evidence of the long term health impacts of sustained environmental exposures such as air pollution [1], and of short term health impacts of exposures such as extreme air pollution events [2] or temperatures [3]. However, there is little understanding of the interplay between long and short term exposures and patient medical history at the hospital trust scale, and how environmental data might be used within hospital trust analytics systems to improve care of the local population. Understanding these relationships could help improve knowledge of exposure responses in the local environment and population, lead to innovative commercial solutions for healthcare analytics, and improve patient healthcare, in particular for chronic respiratory conditions such as COPD.

This CASE studentship will explore statistical, data science, and Earth observation approaches to addressing the multidimensional problems which must be solved in order to provide meaningful environmentally-driven healthcare advice at the hospital trust scale. It will apply spatiotemporal data analysis and statistical modelling methods, and propose approaches for dealing with environmental data in a healthcare informatics system. Air pollution and meteorological data will be analysed, along with anonymised respiratory health data accessed through approved channels.

The student will engage with the Population Health Europe team at Cerner UK Ltd. This will enable a highly novel approach to the science of the PhD, and conducting this research in partnership creates potential for delivering added value to hospital trusts and their patients.

The figure shows one example of the kind of data that will be interrogated. Note that while visually air pollution and hospital admissions vary similarly and it may appear that the first drives the second, annual cycles related to season are largely responsible for variations in both. Respiratory admissions due to acute bronchitis peak very regularly in the middle of winter in England and Wales, typically between 25 December and 15 January, while admissions due to influenza-like illness peak more variably [4]. Air pollution levels also tend to increase in winter when atmospheric mixing is reduced. So there are very interesting statistical questions to consider to understand relationships among health and environmental data patterns.

Entry requirements

Applicants are required to hold/or expect to obtain a UK Bachelor Degree 2:1 or better in a relevant subject. The University of Leicester English language requirements apply where applicable.

How to apply

The online application and supporting documents are due by Monday 21st January 2019.
Any applications submitted after the deadline will not be accepted for the studentship scheme.
References should arrive no later than Monday 28th January 2019.
Applicants are advised to apply well in advance of the deadline, so that we can let you know if anything is missing from your application.

Required Materials:

1. Online application form
2. Two academic references
3. Transcripts
4. Degree certificate/s (if awarded)
5. Curriculum Vitae
6. CSE Studentship Form
7. English language qualification

Applications which are not complete by the deadline will not be considered for the studentship scheme. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure the application form and documents are received by the relevant deadlines.

All applications must be submitted online, along with the supporting documents as per the instructions on the website.

Please ensure that all email addresses, for yourself and your referees, are correct on the application form.

Project / Funding Enquiries

Application enquiries to [Email Address Removed]
Closing date for applications – 21st January 2019

Funding Notes

This research project is one of a number of projects in the College of Science and Engineering. It is in competition for funding with one or more of these projects. Usually the project that receives the best applicant will be awarded the funding.

Home/EU Applicants:

This project is eligible for a fully funded College of Science and Engineering studentship that includes:

• A full UK/EU fee waiver for 3.5 years
• An annual tax free stipend of £14,777 (2018/19)
• Research Training Support Grant (RTSG)

International Applicants:

This project is eligible for a College of Science and Engineering studentship that includes:

• A full international fee waiver for 3.5 years
• Research Training Support Grant (RTSG)

International candidates must be able to fund their living costs for the duration of the studentship.


1. Pope, C. III, and D. Dockery. 2006. Health effects of fine particle air pollution: Lines that connect. J. Air Waste Manage. Assoc. 56(6):709–42. doi:10.1080/10473289.2006.10464485
2. Wordley J, Walters S, Ayres JG (1997) Short term variations in hospital admissions and mortality and particulate air pollution. Occup Environ Med 54:108–116. PubMed: 1128660.
3. Anderson GB, Dominici F, Wang Y, McCormack MC, Bell ML, Peng RD. Heat-related emergency hospitalizations for respiratory diseases in the Medicare population. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2013;187:1098–1103.
4. A. J. Elliot, K. W. Cross, D. M. Fleming; Acute respiratory infections and winter pressures on hospital admissions in England and Wales 1990–2005, Journal of Public Health, Volume 30, Issue 1, 1 March 2008, Pages 91–98.

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