View Full Version : PhD Position

06-23-2008, 07:46 PM
Please post this PhD position ad.

Date Posted: 31/03/2008
Salary: 12,000 + University Fees
Location: Northwick Park, London
Company: Olympic Medical Institute

PHD Student - to be based at the Olympic Medical Institute

This position if for EU students only.

Project: Development of a portable optical device for improving sports performance (joint project with University of Essex, UCL and the British Olympic Association)

Background to the project

Near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) uses light of wavelengths from 700 - 1,000 nm to probe the muscle and brain and report on their oxygenation status. An EPSRC-funded collaboration between the Medical Optics Group at the University of Essex and the Medical Physics and Computer Science departments at University College London is developing a small wearable optical device, with the ultimate aim of improving training regimes for UK athletes to enhance their performance. The Olympic Medical Institute of the British Olympic Association, based at Northwick Park in Harrow, North London, has joined this collaborative team and is funding a PhD student to look at the applications in a range of Olympic Sports.

Background reading - basic



Background reading - detailed



Review Papers


C. Angus Sports Science. Shining NIR light on the Olympics NIR news 17 (2006) 21-23 V. Quaresima, R. Lepanto, M. Ferrari, The use of near infrared spectroscopy in sports medicine, J. Sports Med. Phys. Fitness 43 (2003) 1-13.

The student

The project would suit:

a student with expertise in engineering and/or physics and a passionate interest in sport

a biological/sports scientist with a strong interest in equipment design and data analysis.


The Ph.D. student will be based at the Olympic Medical Institute (http://www.olympics.org.uk/omi/home.aspx). Projects will be agreed by the supervisory team led by Dr. Marco Cardinale (Head of Science and Research of the British Olympic Association) with assistance from Prof. Chris Cooper (Academic Supervisor, University of Essex) and Dr. Clare Elwell (University College London, Co-Supervisor). The student will be registered with the University of Essex, Department of Biological Sciences and will have to attend some training modules in Colchester.

Outline of the Research plan

The following is only a summary action plan for the Research Activities; detailed projects will be agreed by the supervisory team when the student is in place.

* Establish the validity and reliability of the portable NIRS and refine software/hardware issues
* Study muscle metabolism and determine the causes of fatigue (Speed skating; Track Cycling).
* Determine changes in the cortical mitochondrial redox state while exercising in different environmental conditions (heat, cold, hypoxia)


3 years of University Fees and salary (12K per year) will be provided to the student.


The studentship is available immediately but could be taken up in October 2008 if necessary. For more information contact Professor Chris Cooper ccooper@essex.ac.uk , Dr. Marco Cardinale Marco.Cardinale@boa.org.uk or Dr. Clare Elwell celwell@medphys.ucl.ac.uk


The possibility of studying non-invasively local muscle oxidative metabolism during exercise has been enhanced in the last few years thanks to the use of NIRS (Quaresima, Pizzi et al. 1996; Ferrari, Binzoni et al. 1997; Boushel, Langberg et al. 2001; Quaresima, Colier et al. 2001; Neary, McKenzie et al. 2002; Quaresima, Komiyama et al. 2002; Hamaoka, Katsumura et al. 2003; Quaresima, Lepanto et al. 2003). For the quantification of muscle O2 saturation different NIRS methods are available; so far one of the most largely used in muscle studies is represented by near-infrared spatially resolved spectroscopy (NIRSRS). NIRSRS provides both an average (from small vessels, such as the capillary, arteriolar and venular bed) tissue O2 saturation and concentration changes in oxy-hemoglobin (O2Hb), deoxy-haemoglobin (HHb) and total haemoglobin (tHb = O2Hb + HHb). Tissue O2 saturation represents a dynamic balance between O2 supply and consumption in the investigated tissue volume.

During exercise, both blood flow and oxidative metabolism in skeletal muscle respond to meet increased oxygen demand. For this reason, NIRS measurements can provide an indication of localised muscle activities (Neary 2004). Muscles use oxygen to assist in the conversion of food energy (carbohydrate/fat) into the useable chemical energy that can drive muscle contraction and allow an athlete to perform movements. Exercise uses up oxygen and therefore the amount of oxygen in the muscle (its oxygen saturation) is a measure of whether the oxygen being delivered is keeping up with its consumption. In "aerobic" exercise there is sufficient oxygen; in "anaerobic" exercise this is not the case. In all sports, understanding local and whole body muscle metabolism is extremely important in order to develop the best training and nutritional strategies. Currently, whole body models have been adopted due to the invasiveness of local measures of muscle metabolism. NIRS techniques allow sports scientists the possibility of understanding muscle metabolism in-vivo possibly in real and simulated performance conditions without being invasive.

Many factors will influence the position of Team GB in the medals table in 2012, including the development of optimised training regimes for elite athletes. Informed development of effective training strategies requires coaches to be given real time feedback on an athlete's performance at the trackside. Currently there is a scarcity of available devices that provide reliable and accurate physiological monitoring of elite athletes in the field. In particular, there are no direct methods to establish muscle metabolism in vivo in real time and/or with high resolution. In theory NIRS methods could be used to measure muscle oxygenation in training athletes. Furthermore, recent developments of the technique allow the determination of cerebral oxygenation during exercise (Quaresima, Sacco et al. 2000; Neary 2004) expanding the possibility of not only being able to measure muscle metabolism but also brain activity during exercise (Bhambhani, Malik et al. 2007; Pereira, Gomes et al. 2007; Subudhi, Dimmen et al. 2007). However current commercial NIRS machines are large, heavy and non-portable. A feasibility project has been recently conducted to develop a non-obtrusive, battery driven, compact, NIRS device that measures local absolute muscle oxygen saturation and transmits this data via a wireless link to the coach in real time. The results of this preliminary work funded by EPSRC and UK Sport are providing information for the design of such a device. Pilot work is also being conducted in parallel with the design of the prototype device to compare NIRS data with exhaled air and measurements in blood samples.


Bhambhani, Y., R. Malik, et al. (2007). "Cerebral oxygenation declines at exercise intensities above the respiratory compensation threshold." Respir Physiol Neurobiol 156(2): 196-202.

Boushel, R., H. Langberg, et al. (2001). "Monitoring tissue oxygen availability with near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) in health and disease." Scand J Med Sci Sports 11(4): 213-22.

Ferrari, M., T. Binzoni, et al. (1997). "Oxidative metabolism in muscle." Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 352(1354): 677-83.

Hamaoka, T., T. Katsumura, et al. (2003). "Muscle oxygen consumption at onset of exercise by near infrared spectroscopy in humans." Adv Exp Med Biol 530: 475-83.

Neary, J. P. (2004). "Application of near infrared spectroscopy to exercise sports science." Can J Appl Physiol 29(4): 488-503.

Neary, J. P., D. C. McKenzie, et al. (2002). "Effects of short-term endurance training on muscle deoxygenation trends using NIRS." Med Sci Sports Exerc 34(11): 1725-32.

Pereira, M. I., P. S. Gomes, et al. (2007). "A brief review of the use of near infrared spectroscopy with particular interest in resistance exercise." Sports Med 37(7): 615-24.

Quaresima, V., W. N. Colier, et al. (2001). "Nonuniform quadriceps O2 consumption revealed by near infrared multipoint measurements." Biochem Biophys Res Commun 285(4): 1034-9.

Quaresima, V., T. Komiyama, et al. (2002). "Differences in oxygen re-saturation of thigh and calf muscles after two treadmill stress tests." Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol 132(1): 67-73.

Quaresima, V., R. Lepanto, et al. (2003). "The use of near infrared spectroscopy in sports medicine." J Sports Med Phys Fitness 43(1): 1-13.

Quaresima, V., A. Pizzi, et al. (1996). "Influence of the treadmill speed/slope on quadriceps oxygenation during dynamic exercise." Adv Exp Med Biol 388: 231-5.

Quaresima, V., S. Sacco, et al. (2000). "Noninvasive measurement of cerebral hemoglobin oxygen saturation using two near infrared spectroscopy approaches." J Biomed Opt 5(2): 201-5.Subudhi, A. W., A. C. Dimmen, et al. (2007). "Effects of acute hypoxia on cerebral and muscle oxygenation during incremental exercise." J Appl Physiol 103(1): 177-83.

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