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The role of ethnicity on the anti-inflammatory effects of lifestyle activity and pulmonary rehabilitation in patients living with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

   Department of Health Sciences

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  Dr NC Bishop, Dr Sally Singh, Dr N Paine  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Proposed start date: 1 October 2023

COPD prevalence is increasing in the UK yet once diagnosed, there are substantial disparities in the management and prognosis of COPD between individuals of South Asian and white European ethnicities, particularly regarding to referral and uptake to pulmonary rehabilitation programmes. Serious comorbidities of COPD, such as heart disease, depression and anxiety are associated with chronic systemic inflammation, yet while increasing physical activity is known to reduce these, data from COPD populations is lacking, with data from South Asian patients more scarce. This PhD will investigate the anti-inflammatory effects of lifestyle activity and pulmonary rehabilitation, and associations of this with comorbidity risk, in white European and South Asian COPD patients. In addition, qualitative methods will be used to explore the barriers and facilitators to referral and uptake to pulmonary rehabilitation in the SA community. The project and training will provide skills and knowledge in patient-centred methodologies in combination with experimental medicine, encompassing respiratory medicine, exercise immunology, exercise physiology and psychology. The project will be based in the internationally renowned National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine (NCSEM) at Loughborough University. The successful candidate will receive training in all assessments and techniques required for the PhD.           


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.

This programme is open to:

  • allied health professionals 
  • nurses
  • midwives
  • junior doctors
  • general practitioners

Fellows recruited to the programme must be practicing healthcare professionals and be registered with a national professional regulatory body (e.g. the General Medical Council, Health and Care Professions Council) in the UK/Republic of Ireland.

Medical graduates must be registered on a UK/Republic of Ireland specialist training programme or must be a registered GP.

All fellows must have completed their undergraduate degree and be registered with the relevant professional body.

Application advice:

Application help:

To apply, please go to:

With your application, please include:

  • Full up to date CV
  • Personal statement of 700 words (for detailed instructions on what we will be looking for in your personal statement and your CV, please review the guidance here:
  • Degree Certificates and Transcripts of study already completed and if possible transcript to date of study currently being undertaken
  • Evidence of English language proficiency if applicable
  • In the reference section please enter the contact details of your two academic referees in the boxes provided or upload letters of reference if already available.

In the funding section please specify that you wish to be considered for Wellcome Trust LHII DTP

In the proposal section please provide the name of at least one or at most two of the projects you are interested in (please indicate title and name of supervisor). The first project you list will be taken to be your preferred choice.

Upload the Widening Participation form (found on the above link) to the proposal section

Project / Funding Enquiries to: [Email Address Removed]

Application enquiries to [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

Students on this programme will be supported by a generous funding package. This will include:
• Postgraduate research fee waiver at standard College of Life Sciences UK rates for three years of the PhD
• Wellcome Trust stipend covering your salary for all three years of the PhD
• Research grant for training, research and travel costs


1. Cavaillès A, et al. (2013) Comorbidities of COPD. Eur Respir Rev. 22(130):454-75. doi: 10.1183/09059180.00008612. PMID: 24293462
2. Paine NJ, et al (2019) Psychological distress is related to poor health behaviours in COPD and non-COPD patients: Evidence from the CanCOLD study. Respir Med. 146:1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2018.11.006. PMID: 30665505.
3. Khoo CM, et al (2011) Ethnicity modifies the relationships of insulin resistance, inflammation, and adiponectin with obesity in a multiethnic Asian population. Diabetes Care. 34(5):1120-6. doi: 10.2337/dc10-2097. PMID: 21464462
4. Somani R, et al. (2006) Complement C3 and C-reactive protein are elevated in South Asians independent of a family history of stroke. Stroke. 37(8):2001-6. doi: 10.1161/01.STR.0000231649.56080.6d. PMID: 16809564.
5. Elhakeem A et al (2019). Leisure-time physical activity across adulthood and biomarkers of cardiovascular disease at age 60-64: A prospective cohort study. Atherosclerosis. 269:279-287. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2017.11.019. PMID: 29180005.
6. Gleeson M et al. (2011) The anti-inflammatory effects of exercise: mechanisms and implications for the prevention and treatment of disease. Nat Rev Immunol. 11(9):607-15. doi: 10.1038/nri3041. PMID: 21818123.
7. Chauntry AJ et al. (2021) Relationships between sedentary behaviour and leukocytes at rest and under stress. Proceedings of the American Psychosomatic Society Meeting 2021.
8. Garrod R, et al (2007). Exercise and the inflammatory response in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)--Does training confer anti-inflammatory properties in COPD? Med Hypotheses. 68(2):291-8. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2006.07.028. PMID: 17010529.
9. Jenkins AR, et al (2020). Inflammatory responses to acute exercise during pulmonary rehabilitation in patients with COPD. Eur J Appl Physiol. 120(10):2301-2309. doi: 10.1007/s00421-020-04452-z. PMID: 32767113.
10. Wang X et al. (2021) Aerobic Exercise Alleviates Inflammation, Oxidative Stress, and Apoptosis in Mice with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis. 16:1369-1379. doi: 10.2147/COPD.S309041. PMID: 34040365
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