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Mechanism of antiarrhythmic and cardioprotective action of ursodeoxycholic acid : from cell to organ.

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  • Full or part time
    Prof Gorelik
    Dr Ng
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Supervisors: Professor Julia Gorelik ([email protected]) and Dr Fu Siong Ng ([email protected])

Applications are invited for a 4 year MRes/PhD studentship starting in October 2016 at the Imperial Centre for Translational and Experimental Medicine, Hammersmith Campus. The studentships are funded through a training grant from the BHF on a tax-free bursary starting from £22,278 per annum. Tuition fees will be paid at the Home/EU rate.

The Cardiovascular Sections of the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College, have been united in the new state-of-the art Imperial College Centre for Translational and Experimental Medicine, where they join collaborators such as the MRC Genetics and Genomics Unit. The present scheme takes advantage of new adjacencies with jointly supervised projects to explore novel areas in cardiovascular and stem cell science.

Project summary:
Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) is a bile acid that has been shown to improve ventricular diastolic pressure, reduce infarct size, and re-equilibrate hemodynamic parameters in the ischemic adult heart. UDCA has been shown to protect against reperfusion injury and to improve the outcome of chronic heart failure. However, the effects of dietary supplementation of UDCA on myocardial electrophysiology in the context of acute infarction-reperfusion and in the chronic post-infarction heart remain unclear, and would need to be clarified if UDCA is to be used as a cardioprotective and anti-fibrotic therapy. In preliminary experiments, we have demonstrated that UDCA when administered chronically prevents the conversion of fibroblasts to myofibroblasts, a process associated with heart injury and fibrosis.

We hypothesized that UDCA will be protective against cardiac arrhythmias associated with enhanced cardiac fibrosis by preventing/modifying the formation of scar tissue following myocardial infarction. The proposed project will characterize the effect of chronic UDCA exposure on heart function in the context of injury and fibrosis. Several state-of-the-art techniques will be applied to estimate the efficacy of anti-fibrotic therapy and to dissect both structural and electrophysiological pathways of UDCA action on all levels from the whole organ to the cell function.

Students will first undertake the MRes in Biomedical Research, a full-time master’s course with 2 research projects (one in each of the supervisors’ laboratories) as well as taught classes in cardiovascular and stem cell science. Upon successful completion of the MRes year, students will (if suitable) progress to the jointly-supervised 3-year PhD training programme.

Imperial College London provides excellent opportunities for research student training. All students benefit from a full programme of training in research and transferable skills organised through the Graduate School, the quality of which has been recognised several times at the Times Higher Education (THE) Awards.

How to Apply
Applicants must hold, or expect to obtain, a first or upper second-class honours degree or equivalent in an appropriate subject from a recognised academic institution. Candidates must fulfil College admissions criteria and meet BHF residency requirements. To apply, please send your CV, the names and addresses of at least two academic referees and a personal statement of no more than 1,000 words explaining your interest in the project to Dr Gunvanti Goding by email on [email protected]

Please assume that your application has not been successful if you have not heard from us within a month of the closing date.

Closing date for all applications: 15th February 2016

Interviews will be held in March 2016

Website: http://www.imperial.ac.uk/nhli/

Committed to equality and valuing diversity. We are also an Athena Silver SWAN Award winner and a Stonewall Diversity Champion.

Funding Notes

The studentships are funded through a training grant from the BHF on a tax-free bursary starting from £22,278 per annum. Tuition fees will be paid at the Home/EU rate.

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