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PhD Studentship: Broken Bones and Kidneys: Dietary Strategies to Protect Bone Health in People with Renal Impairment

University of East Anglia

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Norwich
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: £18,622 Competition Funded Project (Home and International)
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 31st October 2023
Closes: 15th January 2024
Reference: SCHOENMAKERSI_U24FMH

Background        

Signalling between the kidney and bone plays a central role in the maintenance of a healthy bone phenotype. Ageing is associated with renal impairment, bone loss and increased inflammation. When renal impairment progresses and chronic kidney disease (CKD) develops, the majority of patients also develop bone disorders: CKD-mineral and bone disorder (CKD-MBD). This puts people at risk of fractures, iv. Slowing these ageing processes contributes to maintaining health into older age.  

In the early stages of renal impairment, people are recommended to follow a diet high in fruit and vegetables and low in saturated fats, patterns according to the Mediterranean diet (MED) or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH). Such diets were shown to reduce loss of renal function and development of CVD. The evidence-base for these recommendations for CKD-MBD is however very limited iii, iv, v. This hinders the formulation and clinical implementation of dietary recommendations.  

Research methodology 

This PhD will investigate whether dietary patterns and interventions with a high MED or DASH score in early CKD prevent the development of CKD-MBD. 

Firstly, a meta-analyses and systematic review for outcomes relevant to CKD-MBD will be conducted. 

Secondly, using data from well-characterised studies, you will investigate the relationship of MED or DASH diet-score and clinical and intermediate health outcomes of CKD-MBD. With data from an existing intervention study, you will investigate the response to consuming a diet with a high MED score and investigate mechanistic pathways. There is the potential to take part in a laboratory project analysing samples from this study (subject to successful funding applications). 

Training and opportunities for scientific publications and presentations 

This position offers opportunities to develop skills and knowledge in statistical analyses, nutrition, ageing, endocrinology, biochemistry and preventive and public health. This PhD is expected to result in at least 2 high impact scientific papers and 1 conference presentation.   

Person specification

Applicants should have an interest in epidemiological and statistical analyses, bone health, nutrition, endocrinology and laboratory work and should have a 2.1 Hons degree or equivalent in a relevant subject (e.g. biochemistry, physiology, medicine). 

Informal enquiries are welcomed to Dr Inez Schoenmakers (I.Schoenmakers@uea.ac.uk). 

This PhD project is in a Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences competition for funded studentships. These studentships are funded for 3 years and comprise UK (Home) fees, an annual stipend of £18,622 and £1,000 per annum for research training (RTSG). International applicants may apply but are required to secure additional funding to fund the difference between UK and overseas tuition fees (visit: https://www.uea.ac.uk/study/fees-and-funding/fees for details of Home and Overseas fee rates). 

Primary Supervisor: Inez Schoenmakers

Start Date: October 2024

For more information on this project, please visit https://www.uea.ac.uk/search/courses/

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