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PhD Studentship – NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) – Stratification of Liver Disease (SOLID)

Newcastle University

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Newcastle upon Tyne
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: TC087

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

Undiagnosed fatty liver disease is prevalent in the community, due to high rates of harmful alcohol consumption and/or obesity. Early identification of liver disease and treatment may prevent progression to cirrhosis. Biomarkers including FIB-4, ELF, PRO-C3 and vibration controlled transient elastography (VCTE) can stage liver fibrosis, but it is not known how well they perform in a primary care population. This project aims to evaluate the performance of fibrosis biomarkers in primary care to develop a pathway to detect advanced fibrosis. 

This prospective, observational cohort study will recruit 3000 individuals with fatty liver disease risk factors at their primary care ‘annual chronic disease review’.  

Primary outcome:  

The primary outcome of SOLID is to assess the number of patients identified with advanced liver fibrosis/cirrhosis using each of the pathways based on an overall clinical evaluation by a panel of hepatologists. 

Secondary outcomes includes, but not limited to the following: 

  1. Assess the utility of non-invasive testing/triage strategies to identify patients who have liver-related events (death, hepatic decompensation, transplantation) during longitudinal follow up at 2, 5 and 10 years via electronic care records/NHS Digital.  
  2. Compare the number of new cases of advanced fibrosis/cirrhosis identified with previous years in participating practices and control practices historically and over the study period. 
  3. Assess the performance of FIB-4, ELF, PRO-C3 and other novel blood-based biomarkers alone or in combination to identify advanced fibrosis/cirrhosis as defined by overall clinical assessment or LSM. 
  4. Assess the performance of the biomarkers to correctly exclude advanced fibrosis/cirrhosis. 
  5. Assess barriers and facilitators to incorporating the pathway into routine primary care practice.    

Number Of Awards: 1

Start Date: October 2024

Award Duration: 36 months

Application Closing Date: 15th March 2024

Sponsor: NIHR Newcastle BRC 

Supervisors

Professor Stuart McPherson 

Professor Quentin Anstee 

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 ‘TC087’ 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.  Please upload a covering letter, CV and 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: stuart.mcpherson2@nhs.net 

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