Senior cats are a growing concern in current veterinary practice and there is a need to generate objective data regarding health, best management practice, and outcomes. The successful candidate will undertake a 4-year PhD project to study various aspects of ageing in cats. They will help to establish and run an outpatient clinic for senior cats, which will enrol cats as they enter their senior years. The cohort will be monitored prospectively so as to generate information on the feline ageing process. Regular assessments will include physical examination, assessment of mobility using pressure platform analysis to obtain objective data on limb loading and gait parameters, indirect blood pressure measurement, and routine clinicopathological analysis. Other non-invasive monitoring procedures will also be used, including standardised photographs, dental photographs, quality of life assessment, and faecal quality
Data gathered will enable calculation of initial prevalence estimates for specific diseases in a senior cat population, as well as determine of the frequency of clinical signs associated with ageing and how they are identified by owners. Ultimately, the project will enable us to investigate the clinical and physiological changes that occur during the ageing process. We will also determine specific disease incidence, and evaluate causes of death or euthanasia, as well as the factors influencing the decision for euthanasia. In addition, factors associated with mortality or longevity will be evaluated and will utilise event-time (survival) analysis, of which we have considerable experience.
The PhD student will be trained in epidemiology, clinical research methodology, and key research skills for studying ageing process, including gait analysis and molecular biological techniques. This will include:
• Training in veterinary epidemiology
• Training on sample collection, storage, and handling
• Research specific skills:
o Training in gait analysis with an opportunity to expand knowledge in computer modelling of gait.
o Gaining skills in biochemical assays to measure targeted biomarker relevant to ageing
o Measurement of gene expression for targeted age related proteins using real time RT-PCR.
• Training in clinical study design and evidence-based veterinary medicine
• Generic research skills: critical thinking, IT skills, scientific integrity, ethics, project and time management, scientific writing and public engagement;
• Personal and professional skills: personal effectiveness, communications skills, networking and teamwork, management and leadership, understanding of research context.
The Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease is fully committed to promoting gender equality in all activities. In recruitment we emphasise the supportive nature of the working environment and the flexible family support that the University provides. The Institute holds a silver Athena SWAN award in recognition of ongoing commitment to ensuring that the Athena SWAN principles are embedded in its activities and strategic initiatives.
This 4-year PhD studentship includes a tax-free stipend in the region of £21,000 and increasing each year. Research expenses and student fees at Home/EU rates are also included. An allowance is also available for undertaking relevant CPD. Finally, there will also be the opportunity to extend the post as a post-doctoral researcher, subject to satisfactory completion of the project.
Eligibility: Since the project will involve undertaking clinical work, candidates must hold a veterinary degree which is registrable with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, enabling them to practise within the UK. It is also desirable for the candidate to have experience of feline case management in small animal practice.
Applications: For informal enquiries, please contact Dr Alex German ([email protected]). Interested candidates should send a CV and covering letter by email [email protected] Interviews will be held in March 2016.
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