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  • PhD studentship in Edinburgh

    Can Biotin alter the decline of physical function, fatigue and fatigability of people with early progressive MS?

    Project Code: 2017-SPRINT-EDI5

    Our proposal is to explore, in people with progressive MS (EDSS 1.0-3.5) the relationship between physical function, perceived fatigue and performance fatigability. This will be done using standard outcome measures (MSWS12, FSS, and 6min walk test [6MWT]) alongside “newer” measures of perceived fatigue and performance fatigability (gait analysis, via 3-dimensional motion and inertial sensor data capture techniques). Whilst these new measures may offer enhanced ecologically validity and psychometric integrity in characterising physical function and fatigability, especially in those people with MS whose ADL walking ability is not affected, their responsiveness has not yet been demonstrated in patients with MS.
    The therapeutic landscape in progressive MS progressive has recently started to change, with promising agents achieving primary outcome in multi-centre international clinical trials involving patients with significant disability. High dose biotin supplementation favourably impacted disease progression and improve clinical sequelae in primary and secondary progressive MS. Experimental work with mice, carried out by Dr Mahad, has also shown that early administration of high dose Biotin significantly improved rotarod and grip strength in Tfam mitochondrial mutant mice. Pre-clinical data in our laboratory suggest that early administration of high-dose biotin is likely to be more efficacious than currently realised.
    The PhD will develop techniques to measure neurological impairment in progressive MS patients with minimal disability. These clinical platforms will form the basis for testing the hypothesis that a 12 month intervention (double-blind, RCT) of high dose biotin will favourably alter disease progression (EDSS) and the associated characteristics of physical function, perceived fatigue and performance fatigability of progressive MS patients with an EDSS of 1.0-3.5.
    Prerequisites: A minimum of an upper second class undergraduate degree and, ideally, a masters degree in Human Movement Science or equivalent (e.g. Physiotherapy, Exercise Science) with demonstrable experience of gait analysis via 3-D motion analysis and/or inertial sensor data capture.
    Please contact your intended supervisor to discuss the project and your suitability for it before submitting your application.
    The project is a part of SPRINT-MND/MS, a new Scotland-wide PhD scheme for research into motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis. Projects, encompassing a wide range of topics including laboratory, clinical, and social sciences, are available at Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews Universities. This exciting initiative provides a great opportunity for budding researchers in any field related to MND or MS to join Scotland’s network of world-leading scientists and health professionals.
    Additional Project Info:


    Studentships are for three years and include a standard non-clinical stipend*, UK/EU fees* and an allowance for consumables and travel. The cohort of SPRINT students will also be offered opportunities to attend clinics and meet patients, undertake ‘taster’ placements in a different field, and participate in public engagement and researcher networking events. *Clinical and/or non-UK/EU applicants are eligible to apply. However, because any shortfall in stipend or fees must be met by the supervisory team, written agreement from the supervisor must accompany the application.
    Research Area(s):

    • Degeneration
    • Informatics

    Primary Supervisor:

    Dr Don Mahad

    Secondary Supervisor:

    Prof Tom Mercer

    Primary Host Research Centre:


    Funding Status of this Project:


    Deadline for Application:

    Friday, 20 January, 2017
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