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Understanding the role of fitness in determining the cardiovascular risk associated with exercise blood pressure

   Menzies Institute for Medical Research

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  Dr M Schultz  Applications accepted all year round  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Expressions of interest are sought from suitable candidates to undertake a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) research higher degree in clinical cardiovascular exercise physiology at the Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia.

An exaggerated blood pressure (BP) response to clinical exercise testing has been shown to be a risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality. Several factors, including (but not limited to) cardiorespiratory fitness may influence the acute BP response to exercise and its subsequent association with cardiovascular outcomes. Indeed, the relationship between exercise BP and aerobic capacity suggests there may be both pathological and physiological pathways to generating exaggerated exercise BP. Physiological insight to the cardiac structure and function that underpins these differential BP responses to exercise, as well as the associated longer-term cardiovascular risk are lacking.

The Exercise stress Test collaboratION (EXERTION) is a collaborative study established to enhance clinical understanding of abnormal exercise BP. A very-large database of clinical exercise stress test data from multiple locations around Australia have been pooled and linked to administrative health datasets to enable exploration of the associations between test variables and cardiovascular outcomes. This dataset provides the means to explore the following questions which will form the basis of this PhD program:
1. How is the blood pressure response to clinical exercise testing influenced by functional/aerobic capacity?
2. Does the association between exercise BP, cardiac structure and function differ by level of functional/aerobic capacity?
3. Does the association between exercise BP, cardiovascular events and mortality differ by level of functional/aerobic capacity?

Supervision will be from the EXERTION study principal investigators, Dr Martin Schultz ( and Professor James Sharman ( Dr Schultz is a Senior Research Fellow and clinical exercise physiologist (AEP) at the Menzies Institute for Medical Research, supported by a National Heart Foundation Future Leader fellowship. He leads the clinical exercise physiology research program at Menzies and performs clinical research related to cardiovascular health within a broader team of researchers who form the cardiorespiratory health and diseases theme at Menzies.

The successful applicant will also have access to the resources, support and mentorship of the broader EXERTION study team, as well as a national and international network of established research collaborators.

For more information on Menzies and our research, please refer to our website

Application criteria:
- Completed a bachelor’s degree (preferably in exercise science/physiology or similar health/medical field) with first class honours or equivalent degree; or equivalent industry/clinical/research experience.
- English language proficiency, both written and verbal

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