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Understanding the role of exercise training in the primary and secondary prevention of atrial fibrillation.

Project Description

Why Join Us?

Liverpool Heart & Chest NHS Foundation Trust, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Liverpool John Moores University and the University of Liverpool have come together to co-create a new collaboration focused on the development and application of research in cardiovascular disease and stroke that can be meaningfully impactful on the health of the population. This collaboration is via the new Liverpool Centre for Cardiovascular Science, which brings together emerging science, translational and clinical researchers for a truly collaborative cardiovascular research grouping.

Our Project

The PhD will focus on understanding the potential protective effects of exercise training in the primary and secondary prevention of developing atrial fibrillation, but also whether too much and vigorous exercise may provoke the development and/or progression of atrial fibrillation. Access to large, international cohorts (>2,000 adults with 30-yr follow-up, >24,000 adults with 1-7 yr follow-up). Moreover, state-of-the-art equipment will be used to investigate the impact of exercise training on cardiac and vascular function and structure in patients with atrial fibrillation to understand the underlying mechanisms. Accordingly, this work will contribute to evidence-based recommendations for the optimal dose of exercise training in the management of atrial fibrillation.

The PhD will be based at Liverpool John Moores University within the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences (RISES), with patient recruitment from Liverpool Heart and Chest NHS Foundation Trust. RISES have world-class facilities and a large network of postgraduate students who all receive a programme of ongoing training and development, including completion of accredited teaching programme.

The supervisory team

Professor Dick Thijssen (Professor of Cardiovascular Physiology) who has expertise in measurement of vascular and cardiac function; Professor Gregory Lip (Price-Evans Chair of Cardiovascular Medicine) who is a clinical cardiologist with global expertise in atrial fibrillation; and Professor Keith George (Professor of Cardiovascular Physiology) who has expertise in cardiac function and rhythmicity.

Special eligibility requirements

Expertise in statistical analysis of large data sets is helpful for this PhD, but not obligatory. Similarly, experience in performing experiments in humans, including assessment of (cardiovascular) health is recommended, but not obligatory.

Funding Notes

This opportunity is available for self-funded students, and students who have already secured the necessary funding.


For an informal discussion about this opportunity please email Professor Dick H.J. Thijssen ([email protected]) for more information.

Applicants should email a CV, covering letter detailing their suitability for the project and contact details of two referees to Professor Dick H.J. Thijssen ([email protected]).

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