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Phd Studentship: Using Novel Amp-activated Protein Kinase Activating Drugs to Improve the Pancreatic Alpha Cell Response to Hypoglycaemia in Diabetes

University of Exeter - College of Medicine and Health

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Exeter
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: Not Specified
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 22nd January 2019
Closes: 1st March 2019
Reference: 3439

Location: RILD Building, Barrack Road, Exeter, EX2 5DW

With time also spent at the Streatham Campus, as required.

Funding:  £17,000 in year 1 £18,000 in year 3

Project Background: This Diabetes UK-funded project will focus on an important topic of relevance to people with diabetes. Low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) is a problem in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. It presents as a series of symptoms including (but not limited to) hunger, anxiety, sweating, palpitations, confusion and dizziness. The symptoms are unpleasant for the sufferer but also come with an increased risk of several other health problems, including heart attacks and strokes. Moreover, with time, an individual’s awareness of hypoglycaemia can wane, increasing the risk of severe hypoglycaemia which can cause loss of consciousness, coma, brain damage or even death. The aim of this research is to develop a better understanding of why the risk of hypoglycaemia increases with diabetes disease duration. We aim to develop a better understanding of the pancreatic cells that help defend against hypoglycaemia (the alpha cells). Specifically, we want to test whether a new drug can help to protect the hormonal defense mechanism preventing hypoglycaemia and whether this can prevent rats from becoming less aware of hypoglycaemia.

Project and training plans: The candidate will be trained in three cores areas over three years, to provide a comprehensive and contemporary inter-disciplinary programme. In year one, the candidate will learn aseptic cell culture techniques using islet cell lines. This will be combined with drug treatments, cell signaling studies and physiology. Subsequent studies, will include the use of ex vivo primary islets, isolated from source, training in in vivo physiology, including administration of novel drug therapies combined with blood glucose monitoring and behavior tests, to examine hypoglycaemia awareness using rodent models. As this project is funded by Diabetes UK, the candidate will also have the opportunity to attend training days at the Diabetes UK Headquarters in London, usually held once per year.

Conferencing and industry engagement: The candidate will attend at least one national diabetes conference every year (Diabetes UK Annual Professional Conference) and will be encouraged to present data at the earliest opportunity. They will also be encouraged to attend an international conference such as the American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions or the European Association for the Study of Diabetes annual meeting. This will probably be in years 2 or 3. As a large part of this project involves work with an industrial partner, the candidate will be encouraged to manage the relationship between the University and this partner, for example by sharing novel data or request and discussion of confidential data from the industrial collaborator.

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