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The influence of serious battlefield traumatic injury (SBTI ) upon cardiovascular disease (CARDIOVASCULARD) risk and heart rate variability

  • Full or part time
    Prof A Khattab
  • Application Deadline
    Thursday, January 30, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

We face an unprecedented period in the history of armed conflict in the United Kingdom. Advances in personal protective equipment and medical care have led to the survival of soldiers with SBTI that would have been fatal previously. Whilst the physical impact of SBTI is increasingly well understood, the longer term impact of such injuries upon CARDIOVASCULARD risk is unknown. There is some, albeit limited data related to historical conflicts to suggest that SBTI may be linked to increased Cardiovascular risk.1,2 There is a therefore a need to examine the potential link between SBTI and Cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk in a more contemporary cohort of injured servicemen.

The proposed project will represent a unique and exciting opportunity to investigate the potential Cardiovascular effects of SBTI. This project will be a prospective observational study on a subpopulation of the ongoing research project ADVANCE (ArmeD SerVices TrAuma RehabilitatioN OutComE - Study of servicemen who have sustained SBTI during recent Armed conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The ADVANCE study is being conducted at the Ministry of Defence Rehabilitation Centre (MDRC).The existing dataset includes measures of blood pressure, arterial stiffness, cumulative Cardiovascular risk Scoring (QRISK:, as well as blood biomarkers. Whilst these markers may provide important Cardiovascular risk prediction, they lack the simplicity, convenience and autonomic insight provided by techniques such as heart rate variability (HRV) assessment.

Thus, the aims of the proposed project are to examine the impact of STBI upon HRV and its relationship to other CARDIOVASCULARD risk markers in a cohort of male British Military Servicemen who have sustained recent SBTI. They will be compared with a matched cohort of non-injured servicemen exposed to the same operational environment.

We aim to answer the following questions:
1. 1. Does SBTI injury influence indices of HRV?
2. 2. Are some indices of HRV affected more than others, e.g., time domain vs. frequency domain parameters?
3. What are the potential mechanisms for any changes that are observed?
4. Can HRV parameters be used as a tool to predict specific cardiovascular risk(s)?

In this PhD project the relationship of changes HRV data to Cardiovascular risk measurements, obtained as part of the ADVANCE study protocol, will be investigated. Participants will represent ongoing recruits into the ADVANCE study, which has ethical approval (MoDREC Protocol No: 357/PPE/12), and recruited >1000 participants to date and is commencing its three year follow up. In addition to currently collected Cardiovascular risk measures, HRV data will be collected non-invasively for 10 minutes using a single lead ECG, and processed offline using specialist software available at BU. If important differences in HRV between healthy controls and injured servicemen are identified, further exploratory variables can be included within the analyses (e.g., male sex hormones and measures of psychological health). The project will evaluate whether HRV provides a simple, convenient method of evaluating cardiovascular risk in people who have undergone STBI.

The PhD student will be expected to be primarily based at Bournemouth University (BU) but will be required to undertake intermittent sustained (>4 days) visits of the Ministry of Defence Rehabilitation Centre, (MDRC) at Stanford Hall, Nottinghamshire, where they will assist with data collection and the processing of the HRV data with greater analysis back at BU.

How to apply:

Applications are made via our website using the Apply Online button below. If you have an enquiry about this project please contact us via the Email NOW button below, however your application will only be processed once you have submitted an application form as opposed to emailing your CV to us.

Candidates for funded PhD studentship must demonstrate outstanding qualities and be motivated to complete a PhD in 3 years.

The PhD Studentships are open to UK, EU and international students. Candidates for a PhD Studentship should demonstrate outstanding qualities and be motivated to complete a PhD in 4 years and must demonstrate:

• A 1st class honours degree and/or a relevant Master’s degree with distinction or equivalent. If English is not your first language you’ll need IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 minimum (with a minimum 6.0 in each component).

Additional Eligibility:
The student will need to be willing to be primarily based at the Ministry of Defence Rehabilitation Centre, (MDRC) Stanford Hall, Nottinghamshire, during the first 18 months of their project, whilst data are collected.
A professional qualification recognisable by professional bodies in the UK is desirable, but not essential.     

Funding Notes

Funded candidates will receive a maintenance grant of £15,000 per year to contribute towards living expenses during the course of your research, as well as a fee waiver for 36 months

Funded Studentships are open to both UK/EU and International students unless otherwise specified.

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