Research

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Funded, on-going and potential PhD projects from our key academic staff at the Health and Wellbeing Academy are listed here.

If you already have your own funding, and are interested in projects or research areas that are not listed here, please look at our projects and contact potential supervisors working in your area of interest, including a copy of your CV.

Professor Richard Aspinall

1. Design and fabrication of a diagnostic device for the identification of CXCL12 in urine of patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis

This is a proof of principle project to determine whether the presence of increased amounts of the chemokine CXCL12 in the urine is specific for patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis and then to determine whether variations in the quantity of this chemokine correlate to the disease severity.

2. Design and fabrication of a device to measure respiratory rate and blood oxygenation levels

The project will involve the design, build and test of a prototype which uses a tri-axis accelerometer to measure motion and a reflective optical sensor to determine respiration rate and blood oxygenation and then include a trial to determine whether this can effectively determine disease status in known respiratory diseases.

3. Differentiation of CD34+ cells in a model thymus

This project will explore whether CD34+ cells derived from the blood of individuals at different ages or derived from induced pluripotential stem cells can differentiate efficiently within a laboratory model of a human thymus.  

4. Identification of the role of a small molecule inhibitor of IL-7 in the signal transduction pathway

This project will involve the detailed analysis of the effect of the small molecule inhibitor AI127 on the downstream signalling pathway following engagement of the IL-7 receptor.   

5. Identification of the response to human herpes virus 6

This project will involve the development of research tools (ELISPot assays, tetramers) to identify the immune response to HHV6a and HHV6b in individuals of different ages and correlate the response to immune status. 

Professor Selim Cellek

Discovery of novel anti-fibrotic drugs

Fibrosis can affect almost any organ and is an important part of the pathogenesis of several lethal diseases such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, liver cirrhosis and chronic kidney disease. 45% of all deaths in the developed world has been attributed to some type of fibroproliferative disease. There is a clear unmet need to find novel targets and therapeutic agents for the treatment of fibrotic diseases. This PhD project will focus on discovery and development of novel anti-fibrotic drugs using novel phenotypic screening assays. The project will employ cell culture, PCR, Western blotting, compound screening and immunocytochemistry in our state-of-the art cell biology laboratory.

Dr Dingchang Zheng

1. Development of a cuffless blood pressure measurement system

The measurement of blood pressure is one of the most common clinical procedures for disease management. Current measurement techniques usually require the use of a cuff, which limits their application in remote healthcare delivery through tele-health and tele-care. The PhD project will research and develop an easy and accurate approach for unobtrusive, cuffless and continuous monitoring of blood pressure based on multi-modal physiological signals, and explore its adoption for the management of chronic cardiovascular disease. It requires working across multidisciplinary with other engineers, physical scientists, clinicians, industry, policy makers, and allied professionals at different stages along the development pathway, and will lead to high quality publications and potentially patentable medical devices. This project will involve a variety of computing work (including physiological signal analysis, graphics and statistics), electronic medical device instrumentation, and data collection from patients and volunteers.

2. Quantitative in-vivo examination of retinal vascular parameters in normal eyes and in ocular disease

The eye is an ideal organ to gain insight in microvascular changes with physiological and pathological conditions. It has been widely accepted that structural changes in the retinal vasculature are clinical predictors of systemic vascular disease. However, to date there are no established and clinically accepted techniques to quantify the parameters that reflect the changes in retinal vasculature. The PhD project will develop advanced techniques for the assessment of microvascular stiffness by measuring pulse wave velocity in retinal arteries (rPWV), and explore its clinical applications in patients with certain ocular diseases. The relationship between rPWV and arterial PWV measured the periphery (an indicator of cardiovascular risk factors) will also be investigated to reveal the potential values of rPWV for identifying the risk of cardiovascular disease.