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PhD Research Studentship- Musculoskeletal Pain and Frailty in an Ageing Population

University of Nottingham - Rheumatology, Orthopaedics & Dermatology

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Nottingham
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £14,777 per annum
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 13th May 2019
Closes: 13th August 2019
Reference: MED1531

Location: UK Other

Department: Academic Rheumatology, University of Nottingham Clinical Sciences Building, City Hospital, Hucknall Road, Nottingham, NG5 1PB.

Supervisor: David Walsh, Professor of Rheumatology, Division of Rheumatology, Orthopaedics and Dermatology

Secondary supervisor: Professor John Gladman, Professor of the Medicine of Older People, Division of Rehabilitation, Ageing & Wellbeing

Subject area: Musculoskeletal health and wellbeing

Description: As average lifespan increases, numbers of years in good health struggle to keep pace. Accumulation of currently incurable conditions with increasing age leads to increasing health impairment and reduced quality of life. Musculoskeletal pain, for example due to osteoarthritis (OA), is increasingly prevalent, and, as well as directly causing distress, contributes to reduced independence and increases health care and societal costs. Knee OA, for example, causes severe pain and reduced mobility, and reduced activity and increasing sedentary behaviour contribute to increased morbidity and mortality. Understanding the link between knee pain and frailty should help develop and target treatments that facilitate healthy ageing.

This project takes advantage of the multidisciplinary research environment and patient cohorts developed in Nottingham within the NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre and Pain Centre Versus Arthritis. Our Musculoskeletal Health and Wellbeing survey is a questionnaire based research study which collects annual information from 5000 people with different degrees of pain and frailty. Our joint tissue repository has collected data and biosamples from 2500 patients undergoing joint replacement surgery for arthritis. This PhD project will (1) determine the course, predictors of, and interdependency between pain and frailty within the survey population, (2) invite selected participants for more detailed assessment in order to investigate mechanisms that might link musculoskeletal pain and frailty, and (3) identify novel treatment targets that might reduce pain and frailty, and stratification tools that would help target treatments to those who are most likely to benefit. The student will develop their skills in clinical and physiological assessment of participants, statistical analysis of large datasets, research design and governance. The student will also join the University’s Centre for Doctoral Training in Musculoskeletal Health and Pain, through which they will develop comprehensive skills to embark on a career in biomedical research. This project will be embedded within the NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre ( and the Pain Centre Versus Arthritis (

Award start date: 01/10/2019

Duration of award: 36 months

This studentship will provide a stipend (currently £14,777 per annum) and full payment of Home/EU tuition fees (currently £4,260 per annum). The successful applicant will be registered for the degree of PhD in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Applicant qualification requirements: Applicants should have, or will expect to attain at least a 2i degree classification in a medically related discipline, and will demonstrate strong interpersonal skills and statistical aptitude. This studentship is available for a period of 3 years.

How to apply:

Informal enquiries may be addressed to David Walsh Email: Applications, with a detailed CV and the names and addresses of 2 referees, should be made by email to Please quote ref. MED1531. Open until filled.

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