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Using the Vsimulator to understand the motion sensitivity and balance function in participants with Meniere’s disease, Medical Science – PhD (Funded)

Medical School

, , Mr Malcolm Hilton Friday, April 30, 2021 Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
Exeter United Kingdom Biomedical Engineering Biophysics Medical Physics Biological Sciences Medicine Sport & Exercise Science Pathology Physiotherapy

About the Project

About the Award

Applications are invited for a 3.5-year fully funded PhD Studentship to commence in September 2021. The studentship will be jointly supervised by Dr Jess Tyrrell, Dr Genevieve Williams and Mr Malcolm Hilton at the University of Exeter.

Dr Tyrrell specializes in using large scale human datasets to uncover the causal mechanisms leading to adverse health outcomes such as depression or cardiometabolic diseases and works with digital technologies to help improve the understanding of factors involved in Meniere’s disease. Dr Genevieve Williams researches the coordination and control of human movement. Particularly, her research focuses on how the stability and adaptability of the dynamics of movement change as a function of skill level, perturbation, ageing or pathology. Mr Malcolm Hilton is an ear nose and throat consultant at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital and is Programme Lead for the Extreme Medicine Masters at the University of Exeter Medical School. 

The principal research aim of this project is to characterise and compare motion sensitivity in individuals with and without compromised vestibular systems. This will be achieved by using the Vsimulator at Exeter Science Park ( to address the following objectives:

- Determining the minimum frequency at which participants can detect motion of the six-dimensional moving platform;

- Investigating each plane of motion individually and together;

- Using multiple methods to capture when participants detect motion, including oral confirmation, motion capture suits and pressure through force plates.

This interdisciplinary PhD will aim to improve our understanding of motion sensitivity in Meniere’s disease, a vestibular condition characterised by episodic vertigo, tinnitus, aural fullness and hearing loss. The PhD will build on previous work by the supervisory team into Meniere’s (Tyrrell and Hilton) and will use interdisciplinary methods and expertise from sports science (Williams) to a) improve our understanding of motion sensitivity in Meniere’s and b) improve vestibular rehabilitation programs for individuals with Meniere’s by focussing on the key areas of motion sensitivity and imbalance.  

The student will be part of the larger interdisciplinary Human Movement Group at the College of Medicine and Health. The student will develop a unique set of skills in a truly interdisciplinary PhD. Working with experts in engineering, sports science and medical sciences, the student will gain experience in working in large-scale data analysis at the clinical interface. Data analysis has become more and more relevant to clinical research, yet there are still few people who can bridge the gap between the data analysis and the clinical applications. This studentship will equip the successful applicant with exactly those skills, and plenty of experience with complex datasets. The student will benefit from in-house training and peer support to learn data analysis skills in Stata and R. There is a Health Statistics Group and an R User group. Finally, the student will have the opportunity to participate in numerous discussions and conferences both at Exeter and outside. They will benefit from being in a dynamic team with plenty of opportunities to present and discuss their own work. Towards the end of the studentship, they will be given plenty of support and guidance about their next career stage and support both to complete the thesis on time and to achieve their career goals.

Please contact Dr Tyrrell informally for more details by email .

Funding Notes

The University of Exeter’s College of Medicine and Health is inviting applications for the Graham Cole Studentship in Ménière’s Disease PhD studentship. This is a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in September 2021 or as soon as possible thereafter. For eligible students the studentship will cover Home tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £15,285 for 3.5 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study. The student would be based in the College of Medicine and Health at the Science Park and Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital in Exeter.

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