Evaluating effects of oxygen availability on bioenergetic behaviour and redox status of blood cells to improve clinical interventions in critical illness

Applications are invited for a three-year PhD studentship.

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To apply please use the online application form. Simply search for PhD Medical Studies, then clearly state that you are applying for a PhD studentship and name the project at the top of your personal statement.

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Before applying, please ensure you have read the Doctoral College’s general information on applying for a research degree.

For more information on the admissions process please contact doctoralcollege@plymouth.ac.uk.

Project description

Life-threatening illness may result in patients being admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU). Such a degree of illness exerts incredible physiological demands on the body, which we have little understanding of. A critical reduction of oxygen supply to organs (hypoxia) can threaten their function whilst excessive administration of therapeutic oxygen may also be harmful. Based on findings our research group has sought from field, laboratory and clinical studies, this project aims to test the hypothesis that survival of critically ill patients depends on specific cellular adaptations to hypoxia. We believe that a more comprehensive understanding of the molecular nature of such adaptations will enable us to develop clinical interventions to improve clinical outcomes these extremely unwell patients. To test this hypothesis we propose a project comprised of three distinct phases.

(i)   Clinical: We will identify differences in redox and oxidative stress profiles in previously collected plasma from critically ill patients with either normal or subnormal (permissive hypoxaemia) blood oxygen levels.

(ii) Cellular: We will explore ex vivo cellular patterns of bioenergetic and redox adaptation in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) in response to imposed changes in oxygen tension.

(iii) In vivo healthy volunteer: We will compare these ex vivo responses with the responses of PBMC bioenergetic behaviour and redox status determined following in vivo exposure of healthy volunteers to hypoxia and hyperoxia.

The successful candidate will be supervised by a highly experienced group of scientists and clinicians and become part of a network of translational scientists focused on the physiology of oxygen and critical illness.

Eligibility 

Applicants should have a first or upper second class honours degree in an appropriate subject and preferably a relevant masters qualification. 

The studentship is supported for three years and includes full home tuition fees plus a stipend of £15,609 per annum (2021/22 rate). The studentship will only fully fund those applicants who are eligible for home fees with relevant qualifications. Applicants normally required to cover international fees will have to cover the difference between the home and the international tuition fee rates (approximately £12,697 per annum).

If you wish to discuss this project further informally, please contact Professor Daniel Martin (daniel.martin@plymouth.ac.uk).

Please refer to the list of supporting documents to upload with your application.

The closing date for applications is 12 noon on 31 July 2021. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview in August (date to be confirmed). We regret that we may not be able to respond to all applications. Applicants who have not received a response within six weeks of the closing date should consider their application has been unsuccessful on this occasion.