Current postgraduate opportunities

  • Improving symptoms, outcomes and access to care for those with advanced progressive long term conditions, multi-morbidity and frailty within primary care (4 PhD Scholarships)

    To celebrate the University's research successes, the University of Hull is offering a full-time UK/EU PhD Scholarship or International Fees Bursary for candidates applying for each of the following 4 projects in the Hull-York Medical School.

    Closing date: - 13th March 2017

    Studentships will start on 1st October 2017

    Background. In the UK the proportion of older people is growing, with an increase in long-term conditions, often with several together (multi-morbidity) and frailty. This brings a corresponding increase in related symptoms for the person concerned and a direct impact on healthcare resource use. Care in the last year of life provided for those with long-term conditions accounts for 27% of all healthcare expenditure. Integrated health services are needed for this changing population, which will need a better understanding of i) how to identify those with long-term conditions, multi-morbidity and frailty, who have symptoms and other concerns which need treatment, ii)  how to ensure they receive timely and appropriate treatment to improve quality of life, and iii) how early symptom-based treatments can reduce overall resource use (e.g. unplanned hospital admissions and emergency department attendances, which account for 70% of resource use in last year of life).

    Proactive symptom management and palliative care support is needed. Early provision of palliative care has been shown to reduce symptom burden, improve quality of life, and reduce use of low-benefit and high-cost hospital-based interventions in last year of life. However, access to palliative care remains inconsistent. Overall, only a minority who need palliative care, perhaps as low as 14%, receive it.

    The following PhD projects are in response to this need and aim to improve our understanding with regard to identification and management of symptoms in primary care in people living in the community. All will work with, in addition to their supervisors, a research associate working on a community based cohort of patients with chronic medical conditions.

    All students will join a vibrant community of current PhD students/fellows. Dr Julie Seymour oversees a monthly morning academic programme which fosters group identify, support and integration into the group. The group also hosts a monthly Seminar programme and termly methodology masterclasses which encourages interaction between doctoral students, research associates and fellows. HYMS registered students also have access to the research training modules provided by the Universities of both Hull and York.

    PROJECT 1. 

    Title: Identifying & managing breathlessness in those with frailty in primary care

    Supervisor 1 – Dr Joseph Clark (joseph.clark@hyms.ac.uk)

    Co-supervisor – Professor Miriam Johnson (miriam.johnson@hyms.ac.uk)

    This is a mixed methods (including systemic literature review) PhD project on breathlessness in a cohort of patients in primary care. Breathlessness is highly distressing and neglected symptom affecting patient & families and a frequent cause of unplanned hospital admissions. Surveying a subsample of the primary care cohort with moderate or severe frailty, the PhD student will determine the self-reported prevalence of breathlessness and related symptoms (e.g. poor sleep, anxiety, depression) i) as reported using standard patient-reported outcome measures, and ii) as documented in the primary care medical record. They will determine how well these sources agree and also the documented evidence of breathlessness-targeted treatments in the primary care record. Using these data, they will design a simple, readily implemented resource to support management of breathlessness in primary care, and consider the extent to which this could be directly provided to patients for self-management. A qualitative component of this study will explore the experiences of breathlessness management in primary care and acceptability of such an intervention.

    This project is suitable for a student with quantitative skills (e.g. has degree in the health/biomedical sciences – including allied health, psychology etc.) . The PhD will provide the opportunity for the student to expand quantitative skills and experience with standard patient-reported outcome measures, gain experience in primary data collection including expansion of skills to qualitative methods appropriate for those using this approach for the first time.

    PROJECT 2. 

    Title: Cognitive impairment in primary care: addressing patient symptoms and the support needs of informal family carers

    Supervisor 1 – Dr Jason Boland (jason.boland@hyms.ac.uk)

    Supervisor 2 – Professor Fliss Murtagh (fliss.murtagh@hyms.ac.uk) (until March 1st – please contact Professor Miriam Johnson (Miriam.johnson@hyms.ac.uk)

    This is a mixed methods (including systemic literature review) PhD project on cognitive impairment (difficulty in thinking and memory) in a cohort of patients in primary care (living in the community and cared for by their general practitioner and the primary care team). The student will determine the prevalence of cognitive impairment and related symptoms in these patients using a validated global symptom measure, developed for use in those with dementia and incapacity. Support needs of informal family carers, using validated assessment tools for family caregiver needs, will also assessed. Surveying a subsample of qualitative interviews with carers of those with cognitive impairment, they will explore the nature/type of treatments and supportive measures best suited to address the needs of the patient and their family caregivers.

    This project is suitable for a student with quantitative skills (e.g. has degree in the health/biomedical sciences – including allied health, psychology etc.). The PhD will provide the opportunity for the student to expand quantitative skills and experience with standard patient-reported outcome measures, gain experience in primary data collection including expansion of skills to qualitative methods appropriate for those using this approach for the first time.

    PROJECT 3.

    Title: Prevalence of cachexia and fatigue in primary care and interventions to address these

    Supervisor 1 – Professor Fliss Murtagh (fliss.murtagh@hyms.ac.uk)(until March 1st – please contact Professor Miriam Johnson (Miriam.johnson@hyms.ac.uk)

    Supervisor 2 –  Professor Miriam Johnson (miriam.johnson@hyms.ac.uk)

    This student will use mixed-methods (including systematic literature review) to determine the prevalence of cachexia and fatigue in those with moderate/ severe frailty in primary care. Cachexia (a syndrome with loss of skeletal muscle mass causing progressive functional impairment) and fatigue increase frailty and likelihood of adverse outcomes (hospital and nursing home admission, poor survival). Surveying a subsample of a cohort identified as having moderate/severe frailty, the student will determine the self-reported prevalence of fatigue, and related symptoms e.g. loss of appetite and weight loss. They will record functional status and dependency, and identify when cachexia is present. They will identify interventions documented in the primary care medical record to address these issues. Using newly emerging evidence to address fatigue and cachexia, they will design a resource to support management of this syndrome in primary care.

    This project is suitable for a student with quantitative skills (e.g. has degree in the health/biomedical sciences – including allied health – psychology, social sciences etc.) . The PhD will provide the opportunity for the student to expand quantitative skills and experience with standard patient-reported outcome measures, gain experience in primary data collection including expansion of skills to qualitative methods appropriate for those using this approach for the first time.

    PROJECT 4. 

    Title: A qualitative study of the changing face of primary care: impact on management of symptoms among those with long-term conditions, multi-morbidity and frailty

    Supervisor 1 – Professor Una Macleod (una.macleod@hyms.ac.uk)

    Co-supervisor –  Dr Julie Seymour (julie.seymour@hyms.ac.uk)

    Primary care is changing rapidly, with increased focus of public health/prevention, monitoring of long term conditions, and growing integration (of varying success) with the acute sector. This is occurring at a time of major demographic change, with rapidly rising numbers of older people, and prolonged time living with long term conditions. Resources (especially for social care) are severely constrained. These and other factors are profoundly influencing the nature and quality of primary care; yet it is within primary and community care that most of these challenges need to be met. This PhD will explore the changing nature of primary care through qualitative study; seeking to provide deeper understanding of how explicit and tacit knowledge of symptom management and related interventions (from whatever source) can best be implemented.

    This project is suitable for a student with experience in qualitative research and a degree in health, social science or psychology. The PhD will provide the opportunity for the student to become expert in the application of social science methods in health care.  They will have the opportunity to become expert in evidence synthesis and qualitative methods in particular as well as developing their quantitative skills. 

    To apply for these Scholarships please click on the link below.

    http://www.hyms.ac.uk/postgraduate/how-to-apply/applying-for-postgraduate-study

    Applications should be made through the HYMS web site stating the project title and supervisor’s name.

    Full-time UK/EU PhD Scholarships will include fees at the ‘home/EU' student rate and maintenance (£14,553 in 2017/18) for three years, depending on satisfactory progress.

    Full-time International Fee PhD Studentships will include full fees at the International student rate for three years, dependent on satisfactory progress.

    PhD students at the University of Hull follow modules for research and transferable skills development and gain a Masters level Certificate, or Diploma, in Research Training, in addition to their research degree.

    Successful applicants will be informed of the award as soon as possible and by 8th May 2017 at the latest.
  • Cardiovascular Health; maximising the key physiological and biochemical effects of exercise and other novel interventions in atherosclerosis (4 PhD Scholarships)

    To celebrate the University's research successes, the University of Hull is offering a full-time UK/EU PhD Scholarship or International Fees Bursary for candidates applying for each of the following 4 projects in the Hull-York Medical School.

    Closing date: - 13th March 2017

    Studentships will start on 1st October 2017

    Background. Every year in the UK, cardiovascular disease (CVD) kills over 160,000 individuals (including 40,000 premature deaths) and accounts for 16.2% of all hospital admissions.  Yorkshire and the Humber has one of highest age-standardised CVD death rates in the UK. Atherosclerostic CVD is a major research theme in the HYMS strategic plan.

    Exercise regimes provide a clinical and cost effective therapy for both coronary and peripheral vascular disease. However, the physiological and biochemical changes that underpin the beneficial effects of exercise in CVD are unclear.  We believe that the identification of these mechanisms may allow us to design new exercise treatment modalities and become a national focal point for exercise related research in patients with atherosclerostic CVD.

    This cluster of PhD projects is therefore strategically aligned with the aims of the new Institute for Clinical and Applied Health Research (ICAHR), but will also promote cross faculty collaboration by coalescing specialists with internationally recognised expertise in peripheral vascular disease (Chetter/Smith), cardiology (Hoye), health and exercise (Ingle), and muscle metabolism (Matsakas) into a new research foci.

    All students will join a vibrant community of current PhD students/fellows. The current seminar programme encourages interaction between doctoral students, research associates and fellows. HYMS registered students also have access to the research training modules provided by the Universities of both Hull and York.

     PROJECT 1. 

    Title; A pilot, feasibility, randomised trial of non invasive treatments for claudication

    Supervisor 1. Mr George Smith, NIHR ACL, Academic Vascular Surgicial Unit. (George.Smith@hey.nhs.uk)

    Co-supervisor 1. Prof Ian Chetter, Academic Vascular Surgical Unit. (Ian.Chetter@hey.nhs.uk)

    Co-Supervisor 2. Prof Lee Ingle, Department of Sport, Health and Exercise Science. (l.ingle@hull.ac.uk)

    This is a mixed methods (including systematic literature review) PhD project investigating the clinical effectiveness and mechanism of action of different non invasive treatments for exertional muscular leg pain (claudication). Claudication, the most common symptom of peripheral arterial disease, affects 5-10% of the UK adult population and significantly impairs quality of life. NICE guidelines recommend moderate intensity supervised (MIS) exercise training as first line treatment based on clinical and cost effectiveness outcomes. High intensity training (HIT) over a shorter period may be as / more effective1. We have demonstrated in a double blind randomised placebo controlled trial that shock wave therapy (SWaT) is a safe, well-tolerated, efficacious treatment in this condition2. We now aim to undertake a pilot, feasibility randomised trial of these 3 non invasive treatment (MIS vs HIT vs SWaT) for claudication. Outcomes would include; treadmill walking distances, peripheral perfusion, disease specific and generic quality of life, markers of endothelial and platelet dysfunction and cardio-respiratory fitness. The student would be responsible for obtaining approvals, recruitment, intervention and follow up. The research assistant would provide laboratory support. NIHR Research for Patient Benefit funding would be sought.

    This project is suitable for a student with quantitative skills (e.g. has degree in health, allied health, sports science, biomedical sciences etc). The PhD will provide the opportunity for the student to expand quantitative skills and gain clinical trial experience.

    1. Garber et al. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2011; 43: 133-59. 2. Cayton et al. presented Soc Vasc Surg, National Harbour, Washington DC June 2016-11-24

    PROJECT 2.

    Title; A pilot, feasibility study of prehabilitation for patients undergoing surgery for critical limb ischaemia.

    Supervisor 1. Prof Ian Chetter, Academic Vascular Surgical Unit. (Ian.Chetter@hey.nhs.uk)

    Co-supervisor 1. Mr George Smith, NIHR ACL, Academic Vascular Surgicial Unit. (George.Smith@hey.nhs.uk)

    Co-Supervisor 2. Prof Lee Ingle, Department of Sport, Health and Exercise Science. (l.ingle@hull.ac.uk)

    This is a mixed methods (including systemic literature review) PhD project on prehabilitation prior to surgery in patients with critical lower limb ischaemia (CLI). CLI results in continuous pain and / or tissue loss (gangrene). The incidence of CLI is approximately 500 / million population / year. Approximately 75% of CLI patients undergo intervention (revascularisation or amputation) but given the high incidence of co-morbidities (smoking, heart disease, diabetes, renal failure etc) the incidence of post operative complications and mortality is relatively high. We have demonstrated that a preoperative exercise programme improve outcome in other atherosclerotic disease1. Patients with CLI are often in pain and frequently have severely impaired mobility. We aim to assess whether a pre-operative, predominantly upper limb, exercise programme is feasible, acceptable & efficacious in CLI patients. Outcomes will include recruitment & exercise programme completion rates, pain scores, quality of life analysis, markers of endothelial and platelet dysfunction & cardiorespiratory fitness, and post operative morbidity and mortality. The student would be responsible for obtaining approvals, recruitment, intervention and follow up.

    This project is suitable for a student with quantitative skills (e.g. has degree in the health / biomedical sciences – including allied health, sports science etc). The PhD will provide the opportunity for the student to expand quantitative skills and gain experience with standard patient-reported outcome measures and clinical trials.

    1. Barakat et al. Ann Surg 2016; 264: 47-53

     PROJECT 3.

    Title: A pilot, feasibility study of exercise therapy for patients with coronary artery disease

    Supervisor 1. Dr Angela Hoye, Academic Cardiology (A.Hoye@hull.ac.uk)

    Co-supervisor 1. Prof Ian Chetter, Academic Vascular Surgical Unit. (Ian.Chetter@hey.nhs.uk)

    Co-Supervisor 2. Prof Lee Ingle, Department of Sport, Health and Exercise Science. (l.ingle@hull.ac.uk)

    This is a mixed methods (including systemic literature review) PhD project on exercise therapy in patients with angina secondary to specific patterns of coronary atherosclerosis. Coronary heart disease is the number one killer in the UK, and there are currently 2.3 million people living with coronary heart disease. For those with stable angina, symptoms impact on quality of life and consideration is given to revascularisation with either coronary angioplasty or bypass graft surgery. However, due to anatomical complexities, full revascularisation is not always possible. These patients are known to have a worse prognosis than those with complete revascularisation1. We aim to evaluate the role of an exercise therapy in two specific groups of patients: 1) those with incomplete revascularisation and 2) those with single vessel disease with a chronic total coronary occlusion. Outcomes measures would include; treadmill walking distances including time to ECG changes, disease specific and generic quality of life, markers of endothelial and platelet dysfunction and cardio-respiratory fitness. The student would be responsible for obtaining approvals, recruitment, intervention and follow up.

    This project is suitable for a student with quantitative skills (e.g. has degree in the health / biomedical sciences – including allied health, sports science etc). The PhD will provide the opportunity for the student to expand quantitative skills and gain experience with standard patient-reported outcome measures and clinical trials.

    1.Gössl et al. Circulation: Cardiovascular Interventions. 2012;5:597-604

     PROJECT 4.

    Title; The impact of NADPH oxidase inhibition alone or combined with exercise in skeletal muscle of Apolipoprotein E deficient mice

    Supervisor 1. Dr Antonios Matsakas, Biomedical Sciences (A.Matsakas@hull.ac.uk)

    Co-supervisor 1. Prof Ian Chetter, Academic Vascular Surgical Unit. (Ian.Chetter@hey.nhs.uk)

    This is a lab based PhD project studying the attenuation of disease progression in a murine model of atherosclerosis.

    In atherosclerosis, cellular oxidative stress is associated with disease progression and poorer outcomes. Atherogenic (ApoE deficient) mice fed fatty diets show increased oxidative stress in peripheral skeletal muscles, resulting in mitochondrial deficiency, altered protein function and poor exercise tolerance. A main enzymatic source of the reactive oxygen species responsible for oxidative stress in several tissues, are NADPH oxidases (NOX). Both NOX inhibition and exercise may reverse oxidative stress and restore physiological functions. In this established murine model of atherosclerosis, we aim to:

    - unpick the metabolic pathway by which physiological stimuli (exercise regimes) attenuate oxidative cellular damage and compare the impact different intensity exercise regimes

    - test the hypothesis that NOX inhibition utilising novel, newly developed pharmacological agents (NOX inhibitors e.g. ebselen and analogues) alleviates oxidative stress in skeletal muscle.

    - investigate whether the effects of exercise and NOX inhibition are additive.

    The studentship will be an excellent opportunity to undertake a novel project with timely interest for human health. The student will develop expertise in several laboratory based techniques including immunohistochemistry and PCR.

    This project is suitable for a student with laboratory skills (e.g. has degree in the biomedical sciences). 

    To apply for these Scholarships please click on the link below.

    http://www.hyms.ac.uk/postgraduate/how-to-apply/applying-for-postgraduate-study

    Applications should be made through the HYMS web site stating the project title and supervisor’s name.

    Full-time UK/EU PhD Scholarships will include fees at the ‘home/EU' student rate and maintenance (£14,553 in 2017/18) for three years, depending on satisfactory progress.

    Full-time International Fee PhD Studentships will include full fees at the International student rate for three years, dependent on satisfactory progress.

    PhD students at the University of Hull follow modules for research and transferable skills development and gain a Masters level Certificate, or Diploma, in Research Training, in addition to their research degree.

    Successful applicants will be informed of the award as soon as possible and by 8th May 2017 at the latest.