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  Use of -omics and retinal image data to improve vascular risk prediction in type 2 diabetes

   College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine

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  Prof J Price  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

There is a need for improved accuracy of vascular risk prediction and stratification in people with type 2 diabetes by identifying ‘novel’, potentially causal vascular risk factors which can be targeted through preventive strategies aimed at reducing the incidence of both the macro- and micro- vascular complications of diabetes. As an emerging approach for disease prevention, as well as treatment, the application of the research techniques employed within Precision Medicine, including analysis of high density ‘-omics’ data from well-phenotyped, longitudinal cohorts, is ideal for addressing this broad research need.

Using data from the Edinburgh Type 2 Diabetes Study (ET2DS), which includes serial data (4 time-points over 10 years) on a wide range of clinical variables, retinal images, stored blood and urine and record linkage to routine hospital discharges for over 1000 men and women with type 2 diabetes1, the project will focus on one or more of the following specific research questions: (1) identification of long-term trajectories of modifiable biomarkers which increase the risk of micro- and macro-vascular complications in people with type 2 diabetes, focusing initially on glycemic control, blood pressure, lipid profile, obesity, inflammatory mediators and kidney function, (2) identification of ‘novel’ cardiometabolic and proteomic vascular biomarkers, using analysis of high resolution metabolic and proteomic phenotyping of stored serum samples, using a high-throughput 1H-nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy platform3 and a high-multiplex immunoassay platform4 respectively, (3) identification of retinal vessel traits associated with micro and macro vascular disease using state-of-the-art VAMPIRE (Vascular Assessment and Measurement Platform for Images of the Retina) retinal trait imaging software, (4) combination of sub-clinical markers of vascular disease with biomarker profiles to identify people with diabetes most at risk of vascular events.

The student will be trained in advanced computational, statistical and epidemiological methods as applied to hypothesis-driven research of public health importance. They will benefit from the epidemiological, statistical and imaging expertise of the supervisors as well as the availability of considerable and wide-ranging methodological expertise from senior members of the Usher Institute molecular epidemiology research group. They will also have access to methodologists using cutting-edge ‘-omics’ analysis techniques within major consortia involving the ET2DS2 and to cross-disciplinary researchers (including clinicians) who form the ET2DS research team.

This MRC DTP programme is joint between the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. You will be registered at the host institution of the primary supervisor detailed in your project selection.

You can apply here via the University of Glasgow:
Within the application, at the programme of study search field option, please select ‘MRC DTP in Precision Medicine’.

Please note that, in step 6 within the online application process, you are asked to detail supervisor/project title information. Please ensure that you clearly detail this information from the information provided within this abstract advert. Within the research area text box area, you can also add further details if necessary.

Please ensure that all of the following supporting documents are uploaded at point of application:
• CV/Resume
• Degree certificate (if you have graduated prior to 1 July 2016)
• Language test (if relevant)
• Passport
• Personal statement
• Reference 1 (should be from an academic who has a knowledge of your academic ability from your most recent study/programme)
• Reference 2 (should be from an academic who has a knowledge of your academic ability)
• Transcript

For more information about Precision Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, visit

Funding Notes

Start date:
September/October 2016

Qualifications criteria:
Applicants applying for a MRC DTP in Precision Medicine studentship must have obtained, or soon will obtain, a first or upper-second class UK honours degree or equivalent non-UK qualifications, in an appropriate science/technology area.

Residence criteria:
The MRC DTP in Precision Medicine grant provides tuition fees and stipend of £14,296 (RCUK rate 2016/17) for UK and *EU nationals that meet all required eligibility criteria.

(*must have been resident in the UK for three years prior to commencing studentship)

Full qualifications and residence eligibility details are available here:

General enquiries regarding programme/application procedure: [Email Address Removed]


1. Price JF, Reynolds RM, et al. The Edinburgh Type 2 Diabetes Study: study protocol. BMC Endocrine Disorders, 2008; 8: 18
2. Shah T, Engmann J, et al. Population Genomics of Cardiometabolic Traits: Design of the University College London-London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine-Edinburgh- Bristol (UCLEB) Consortium. PLoS ONE 2013; 8(8): e71345
3. Ala-Korpela M. Critical evaluation of 1H NMR metabonomics of serum as a methodology for disease risk assessment and diagnostics. Clin Chem Lab Med, 2008; 46: 27-42
4. Goncalves I, Bengtsson E, et al. Elevated Plasma Levels of MMP-12 Are Associated With Atherosclerotic Burden and Symptomatic Cardiovascular Disease in Subjects With Type 2 Diabetes. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biology, 2015; 35: 1723-1

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