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PhD Studentship: NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre - Characterising Sedentary Behaviours in Cognitive Impairment

Newcastle University

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Newcastle
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: 100% tuition fees (paid at home rate) and a minimum annual stipend of £18,622 (2023/ 2024 UKRI rate) with support for research costs. International candidates will be required to fund the difference between the home and international fees.
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 2nd February 2024
Closes: 15th March 2024
Reference: TC084

Award Summary

100% tuition fees (paid at home rate) and a minimum annual stipend of £18,622 (2023/ 2024 UKRI rate) with support for research costs. International candidates will be required to fund the difference between the home and international fees. 

Overview

Increased sedentary behaviour (SB) is associated with greater comorbidities, muscle loss, worse physical/cognitive function, poorer wellbeing, and higher mortality/dementia risk. 

Limited evidence suggests people with cognitive impairment (PwCI) are more sedentary than typical ageing. Severity of cognitive impairment is also important. People with Alzheimer’s are more sedentary compared to MCI and normal ageing. Dementia subtype may also affect SB; non-Alzheimer’s-related dementias exhibit 7% more sedentary time compared to Alzheimer’s disease.  

Reducing SB in PwCI is key to support health, according to UK’s Physical Activity Guidelines. Hence, we need to study SB's role in disease progression, considering clinical (cognition/motor problems/frailty/dementia subtype) and socio-ecological factors (wellbeing/carer wellbeing/local environment) to develop timely interventions. 

Current research lacks objective SB measures, relying on subjective self-report questionnaires susceptible to recall bias. Our work in older adults (75+) validated a wearable-based algorithm for accurate SB detection. This can address gaps in PwCI and SB research. 

This PhD project aims to address three key aims:  

  1. Systematically review the literature to understand how SB is measured and described in PwCI, considerate to severity and type.  
  2. Qualitatively exploring SB’s importance to people affected by dementia, and factors which influence it. 
  3. Quantitiatively identify socio-ecological influences on SB in PwCI, considering cognitive/motor functions, dementia subtype, frailty, psychosocial wellbeing and local environment. 

The student will gain skills in qualitative data collection, qualitative and quantitative data analysis, accelerometry, systematic reviews, alongside public and patient involvement and engagement and scientific communication. 

Number Of Awards

1

Start Date

October 2024

Award Duration

36 months

Application Closing Date

15 March 2024

Sponsor

NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre 

Supervisors

Riona McArdle 

Silvia Del Din 

Alison Yarnall 

Chloe Hinchliffe

Eligibility Criteria

You must have or be expected to gain a minimum 2:1 Honours degree or international equivalent in a subject relevant to the proposed PhD project. A master’s qualification will be advantageous. 

Applicants whose first language is not English require an IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in each subsection. International applicants may require an ATAS clearance certificate prior to obtaining their visa and to study on this programme 

How To Apply

You must apply through the University’s Apply to Newcastle Portal 

In ‘Course choice’ tab, put ‘Postgraduate Research’ in 'Type of Study', ‘Full Time’ in ‘Mode of Study’, ‘2024’ in ‘Year of Entry’, code ‘8440F’ in ‘Course Title’, blank in ‘Research Area’. Press ‘Search’, select ‘PhD Translational and Clinical Research (FT)’, and save selection. 

Either upload a document or write into ‘Personal Statement’. Put code ‘TC084’ in ‘Studentship/Partnership Reference’. When prompted for research proposal, select ‘Write Proposal’. Type in the title of the research project from this advert. A research proposal is not required. You can also upload a covering letter and CV, please state how your interests and experience relate to the project.  

Degree transcripts/certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualification if completed must be uploaded.  

Contact Details

riona.mcardle@ncl.ac.uk 

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