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Therapeutic effects of low-level (infra-red) light on muscle function in health and disease (Ref:SF20/SER/WILKINSON)

Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

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Dr M Wilkinson Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Many disease states are characterised by low exercise tolerance and low daily activity levels, secondary to central and/or peripheral oxygen transport and utilization limitations. Exercise training can mitigate functional declines, but achieving a sufficient stimulus for adaptation is problematic when exercise tolerance is limited by ventilatory, central hemodynamic and/or peripheral muscle abnormalities. This has promoted research into novel strategies to facilitate muscle reconditioning in long-term conditions characterised by limited exercise tolerance. Interval training and single-leg exercise are examples of strategies shown to facilitate exercise exposure and peripheral muscle adaptations in heart and lung sufferers.
Many cell proteins are sensitive to light. Red light in particular stimulates cytochrome c oxidase, upregulating mitochondrial oxidative metabolism, ATP production and biogenesis, producing new and larger mitochondria. Increased cellular charge in smooth muscle of blood vessels increases vasodilation and augments tissue perfusion. Improved mitochondrial function and tissue blood flow improve functional capacity and are targeted adaptations of exercise training. Recent evidence suggests that exercise tolerance can be increased, fatigue reduced, and aerobic training adaptations augmented with acute and chronic exposure of peripheral muscle groups to low-level (infra-red) light before and after exercise in healthy adults. Peripheral muscle metabolism and exercise capacity responses to low-level light therapy (LLLT) have not been examined in populations with limited ability to perform exercise training. Such improvements would have broad applications for restoring muscle function in many chronic disease sufferers. Furthermore, when exercise is not possible, as during bed rest, LLLT may provide adequate stimulus to combat muscle dysfunction by inducing local muscle perfusion, mitochondrial biogenesis and increased metabolism.
The aim of the proposed series of studies would be to examine the effects of LLLT on exercise capacity, and peripheral muscle oxygen availability in healthy-normal populations, and in populations characterised by peripheral muscle dysfunction. Doppler imaging and Near Infrared Spectrometry will be used to study muscle perfusion and oxygen availability following LLLT in these populations.

Eligibility and How to Apply:
Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g., SF20/…) will not be considered.
Deadline for applications: Open
Start Date: October 2020 or March 2021
Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.

For enquiries, contact Dr Mick Wilkinson ([Email Address Removed])

Funding Notes

Please note, this is a self-funded project and does not include tuition fees or stipend; the studentship is available to Students Worldwide. Fee bands are available at . A relevant fee band will be discussed at interview based on project running costs


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