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3-year PhD Studentship Identifying Metabolic Biomarkers of Skeletal Muscle Wasting in Sarcopenia and Cachexia

The University of Nottingham has an opening PhD position in bioinformatics. This position is available for 3 years. Applications should be sent before January 31, 2019.

This project will be based in the University of Nottingham, School of Medicine (Derby campus)

When muscle is lost in ageing and disease, clinical outcomes are significantly impacted since loss of muscle mass impairs not only locomotory function but also whole-body metabolic health. As such there is a strong relationship between low muscle mass and increased disease risk and mortality outcomes in both healthy ageing and diseases associated with severe wasting. Early identification of those at risk of greatest musculoskeletal decline is important to ensure optimal interventional strategies can be implemented at an early stage to prevent and/or delay muscle wasting in these individuals, thereby maintaining musculoskeletal health for longer and preventing related disease risk. This studentship will use novel analytical techniques (metabolomics) to identify unique metabolite signatures of musculoskeletal decline in both healthy ageing (sarcopenia) and disease (cachexia), so that at risk individuals can be stratified accordingly. Not only will these signatures allow us to identify those at greatest risk of musculoskeletal decline, but could potentially uncover underlying mechanisms involved in the wasting process and hence identify potential therapeutic or drug targets which could be used to normalise this metabolic disturbance and improve skeletal muscle function and hence overall quality of life.

Throughout the PhD the student will have access to world-class facilities and training. The Clinical, Metabolic and Molecular Physiology research group (UoN) are world leaders in mechanistic and metabolic research studies in musculoskeletal disease and healthy ageing. Furthermore, the student will have a unique opportunity to learn cutting-edge metabolomics, mass spectrometry and bioinformatics skills from one of the world leading laboratories in this field; Phenome Centre Birmingham (led by Prof Dunn). In addition to this, there is the possible for spending between 3-12 months at an external project partner institution if appropriate to the project goals. This training will provide the student with a wide range of diverse laboratory and analytical skills, and unique opportunities to develop their academic or research careers.

This studentship is a 3-year funded studentship through the MRC-ARUK Centre for Musculoskeletal Ageing Research (CMAR). Students should have home or EU status: and have been ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the studentship to be eligible for the full award (tuition fees, research support costs, and a tax-free stipend at the Research Council rate). Applicants who have been ‘ordinarily resident’ in another EU member state may be eligible for a fees only award. Please see RCUK terms and conditions for further information.

Applicants should have a strong background in physiology and metabolism, and ideally a background or knowledge of the application of mass spectrometry to understanding metabolism. They should have a commitment to research in ageing and musculoskeletal metabolism and hold or realistically expect to obtain at least an Upper Second Class Honours Degree in Biochemistry or Physiology or a relevant subject.

Informal enquiries should be directed to Dr Daniel Wilkinson at D.Wilkinson@nottingham.ac.uk or 01332 724850

To apply, please contact Angela Beighton for an application form: angela.beighton@nottingham.ac.uk

Please quote the following reference when applying: MED1514


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