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Clinical studies in primary prevention of cardiovascular disease rely on sophisticated non-invasive approaches to characterise early biomarkers of disease in observational studies and clinical trials. Over the last few years using the extensive range of techniques available within the Oxford Cardiovascular Clinical Research Facility, and linked research facilities, we have uncovered specific differences in cardiac and vascular structure in young people with novel predispositions to cardiovascular disease, (Lewandowski et al Circulation 2013, Hypertension 2015, Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 2011, Kelly et al Pediatrics 2012).

We are now undertaking clinical trials to study whether these differences are modified by interventions. This project will use non-invasive imaging including vascular ultrasound, echocardiography, cardiovascular magnetic resonance and microscopy, in conjunction with physiological stressors, to evaluate the impact of these interventions on cardiovascular physiology and risk. The findings should help develop prevention advice for young people at risk for cardiovascular disease.

Training Opportunities

This project will provide training in human physiology and imaging using a range of techniques appropriate to the project. These methods include echocardiography, vascular ultrasound, cardiovascular magnetic resonance, measures of macro- and microvascular structure and function (endothelial function, microscopy, laser Doppler flowmetry, venous occlusion plethysmography) and cardiopulmonary exercise testing. The student would learn about regulatory issues surrounding clinical studies such as ethics, hospital R&D and GCP and attend relevant courses. The project is appropriate to both clinical trainees and physiology graduates with an interest in clinical research. As there are close links with laboratory studies on clinical samples there are also opportunities for interested, and appropriately experienced, individuals to combine clinical data collection with laboratory research.

As well as the specific training detailed above, students will have access to a wide-range of seminars and training opportunities through the many research institutes and centres based in Oxford. Students are also able to attend the Methods and Techniques course run by the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine. This course runs through the year, ensuring that students have the opportunity to build a broad-based understanding of differing research techniques.

Generic skills training is offered through the Medical Sciences Division's Skills Training Programme. This programme offers a comprehensive range of courses covering many important areas of researcher development: knowledge and intellectual abilities, personal effectiveness, research governance and organisation, and engagement, influence and impact. Students are actively encouraged to take advantage of the training opportunities available to them.

The department has a successful mentoring scheme, open to graduate students, which provides an additional possible channel for personal and professional development outside the regular supervisory framework. We hold an Athena SWAN Silver Award in recognition of our efforts to support the careers of female students and staff.

Publications

1 Lewandowski AJ, Augustine D, Lamata P, Davis EF, Lazdam M, Francis J, McCormick K, Wilkinson AR, Singhal A, Lucas A, Smith NP, Neubauer S, Leeson P. 2013. Preterm heart in adult life: cardiovascular magnetic resonance reveals distinct differences in left ventricular mass, geometry, and function.Circulation,  127 (2), pp. 197-206. - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23224059
2 Lewandowski AJ, Bradlow WM, Augustine D, Davis EF, Francis J, Singhal A, Lucas A, Neubauer S, McCormick K, Leeson P. 2013. Right ventricular systolic dysfunction in young adults born preterm.Circulation,  128 (7), pp. 713-20. - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23940387
3 Lewandowski AJ, Davis EF, Yu G, Digby JE, Boardman H, Whitworth P, Singhal A, Lucas A, McCormick K, Shore AC, Leeson P. 2015. Elevated blood pressure in preterm-born offspring associates with a distinct antiangiogenic state and microvascular abnormalities in adult life.Hypertension,  65 (3), pp. 607-14. - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25534704

Research Themes, Tools and Technologies

Supervisors

Key Dates for October 2018 Entry

Application deadline:  12 noon GMT on Monday 8 January 2018

Interviews for shortlisted candidates: Week commencing Monday 22 January 

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How to apply

To apply for a place on the DPhil in Medical Sciences you will need to submit an application using the online application form.

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