|Funding for:||UK Students, EU Students|
|Funding amount:||£14,777 Doctoral Stipend for 3.5 years as well as full UK/EU tuition fees|
|Placed On:||1st October 2018|
|Closes:||23rd November 2018|
Professor Natalia Lawrence, Department of Psychology, University of Exeter
Tackling the obesity epidemic is one of our most urgent global health challenges. In the UK 64% of adults are overweight or obese, with overeating a key factor. BMI is highly heritable and has been associated with over 600 genes. This project examines the link between genetic risk scores for BMI (BMI-GRS) and (over)eating behaviours to inform the development of more targeted and effective prevention and treatment. The mechanisms mediating BMI-GRS involve brain mechanisms and changes in specific eating behaviours, namely increased hunger and disinhibition (a lack of control over eating) in children and adults. These behaviours are also associated with BMI and poor weight loss in cross-sectional and longitudinal studies.
This project aims to discover how eating behaviours mediate genetic susceptibility to obesity by i) conducting advanced statistical analyses of existing cohort data and ii) examining intermediate phenotypes in selected individuals using neuroimaging and behavioural measures that have been consistently associated with BMI.
Two sub-projects will provide the successful student with cross-disciplinary training in complementary and highly sought-after quantitative skills:
This PhD builds on Exeter and Bristol’s strengths in the genetics and psychology of obesity and capitalises on our unique ability to recall adults from local genetic cohorts for more detailed examination of phenotypes related to eating behaviour/responses to food. From 2019, Exeter will have the same 3T MRI scanner as Bristol, facilitating multi-site neuroimaging.
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