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Utilising multiple European patient biobanks to develop prognostic biomarkers for acute coronary syndrome


   Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

  Dr S Watterson, Dr V McGilligan, Dr Taranjit Singh Rai, Prof Aaron Peace  Monday, February 06, 2023  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death worldwide and across the EU, accounting for 32% and 37% of all deaths, respectively.  The number of CVD associated deaths is growing and has risen by 25% worldwide since the year 2000.  Each day in the UK, 180 people die from coronary heart disease. Two European research networks have been launched to expand the resources available to CVD researchers and to improve our ability to detect new predictive multi-‘omics biomarkers.  These networks will bring together large cohort studies of CVD patients from across Europe, exploiting their combined power to enable new questions to be asked about the causes of CVD.

The researcher will:

1)  Review the patient biobanks available at the Personalised Medicine Centre (Ulster University), Clinical Center Dragisa Misevic (Belgrade) and Multimedica SpA (Milan) along with other national/regional biobanks available throughout Europe

2)  Determine the commonalities between biobanks and from this identify the questions that can be asked to inform our understanding of for STEMI, NSTEMI and unstable angina pectoris acute coronary syndrome.

3)  Determine the appropriate structures for discovery and validation within large datasets and undertake machine learning/AI studies to determine and validate diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers, drawing on existing local infrastructure, including training courses and high performance computing clusters.

4)  Identify any systematic bias/discrimination in the biomarkers identified and undertake explainable AI analysis of the biomarkers.

The proposed project will be based at the Personalised Medicine Centre within the School of Medicine at Ulster University. It will complement two new European projects comprising a multidisciplinary team of computational and biomedical scientists, and consultant cardiologists.  There will be significant opportunity for European travel and to development international and local research networks.  The supervision team together have successfully supervised several PhD students in recent years.


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