PhD Studentship: Evidencing the Harms of Shisha Smoking – an Urgent Public Health Problem

University of Birmingham

Applications are invited from UK and EU candidates for a competition funded PhD studentship on a multidisciplinary analytical chemistry research project seeking to undertake investigations on what compounds are used in shisha paste and the types of volatiles resulting from shisha smoking. This research project will involve a multidisciplinary team with external governmental collaborations based in the School of Chemistry and the Molecular Physics Group, School of Physics & Astronomy.

Shisha smoking is a rapidly emerging public health problem owing to its dramatic rise in popularity, especially with young people, and the legislative framework to deal with it is inadequate. This PhD project underpins a research programme that will exploit an array of analytical techniques to examine the content of shisha paste and smoke, as well as investigate the behavioural trends of shisha smoking. Comparisons with normal cigarettes and e-cigarettes will be made.

To address the challenge of determining the contents of shisha paste, the study will require the development of analytical methods for characterising and identifying the components used to make the paste. For separation and identification, analytical techniques such as HPLC, GC-MS, LC-MS, NMR and MALDI-MS will be used. This part of the study will be undertaken in the School of Chemistry and overseen by Dr Shazia Zafar.

To address the challenge of studying volatiles in shisha smoke and in the breath following smoking, the highly sensitive technique of Proton Transfer Reaction Mass Spectrometry will be used. Some travel to the University of Innsbruck, Austria may be required to set up collaborations with experts on breath analysis, working closely with researchers in the Institute for Breath Research. The majority of the volatile study will be undertaken in the Molecular Physics Group.

The project will undertake studies to understand and identify the extent of smoking shisha at a local level. To acquire data on shisha smoking behaviour and reasons for uptake of this type of smoking, breath analysis measurements will additionally involve questionnaires. This will be overseen by Prof Peymane Adab, Institute of Applied Health Research.

Applicants must have first or upper second class degree or equivalent in chemistry or related subject. Applicants must have a desire to work in a multi-disciplinary research environment and as such must show an ability to work in changing teams. The applicant must have a desire to embark on research with a focus in analytical chemistry.

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Type / Role:

PhD

Location(s):

Midlands of England