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The influence of aerobic exercise training to attenuate chemotherapy-induced cardiotoxicity and vascular dysfunction in breast cancer and leukaemia patients

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  • Full or part time
    Dr M Ross
    Prof G Florida-James
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

This project is based in the Sport, Exercise and Health Research theme within the School of Applied Sciences, and is led by Dr. Mark Ross (, Miss Karen Campbell ( and Professor Geraint Florida-James ( and is investigating the effect of exercise on chemotherapy-induced cardiotoxicity and endothelial dysfunction in breast cancer and leukaemia patients.

Chemotherapy treatments, such as Anthracyclines and Trastuzumab, whilst potent anti-tumour therapies, induce deleterious effects on cardiac and vascular tissue. Patients treated with cardiotoxic cancer therapies often induce hypertension, reduced cardiac function and potentially negative effects on vascular function- which elevates cardiovascular disease risk in this patient population.
Due to the beneficial effects of exercise on hypertension, cardiac function (such as left ventricular ejection fraction) and its known ability to promote vascular function, means that exercise is a well-placed treatment to be used alongside chemotherapy to alleviate the side effects of such treatments. Despite some studies showing promise, no research programme has yet to show cardiac and vascular effects combined, in both breast cancer, and leukaemia patients.

The project aims to investigate the cardiac (cardiac toxicity, NT-proBNP, cardiac imaging via ultrasound), vascular (endothelial function, endothelial progenitor cell number and function), and immunological (T-cell number and function) side effects of chemotherapy-induced cardiotoxicity in breast and leukaemia patients, as well as the influence of aerobic exercise during treatment stages to combat the side effects.

You will be given the opportunity to engage in active postgraduate research group. You will be provided extensive training in imaging, biological sampling, flow cytometry and confocal microscopy. You will be given the opportunity to engage with an active post-graduate research community (including the chance to present at national/international conferences) and take part in a full training programme aimed at supportuning progression to a successful research career.

Academic qualifications
A first degree (at least a 2.1) ideally in exercise science or a relevant discipline with a good fundamental knowledge of cardiovascular and immunological physiology and oncology.

English language requirement
IELTS score must be at least 6.5 (with not less than 6.0 in each of the four components). Other, equivalent qualifications will be accepted. Full details of the University’s policy are available online.

Essential attributes:
• Experience of fundamental biological laboratory skills
• Competent in exercise testing and prescription
• Knowledge of cardiovascular physiology and immunology
• Good written and oral communication skills
• Strong motivation, with evidence of independent research skills relevant to the project
• Good time management

Desirable attributes:
Prior experience of flow cytometry and immunoassays

When applying for this position please quote project code SAS0026

Funding Notes

Full time tuition fees for 3 academic years will be provided at Home/EU level, plus 36 monthly stipend payments at the prevailing rate set by the Research Councils.


KEATS, M. R., GRANDY, S. A., GIACOMANTONIO, N., MACDONALD, D., RAJDA, M. & YOUNIS, T. 2016. EXercise to prevent AnthrCycline-based Cardio-Toxicity (EXACT) in individuals with breast or hematological cancers: a feasibility study protocol. Pilot and Feasibility Studies, 2, 44.

XIE, Y., COLLINS, W. J., AUDEH, M. W., SHIAO, S. L., GOTTLIEB, R. A., GOODMAN, M. T., MERZ, C. N. B. & MEHTA, P. K. 2015. Breast Cancer Survivorship and Cardiovascular Disease: Emerging Approaches in Cardio-Oncology. Current Treatment Options in Cardiovascular Medicine, 17, 60.

ROSS, M. D., MALONE, E. & FLORIDA-JAMES, G. 2016. Vascular Ageing and Exercise: Focus on Cellular Reparative Processes. Oxid Med Cell Longev, 2016, 3583956.

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