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Funded PhD Opportunity

Weight regain in Gastric Bypass patients; associations with eating behaviour and gut signalling

Subject: Biomedical Sciences


Summary

Background:

Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (GB) is a highly effective treatment for morbid obesity and results in long-term weight loss and resolution of comorbidities.  However, weight regain may occur as soon as 1-2 years after surgery.  A range of factors have been suggested within the literature which could play a role in weight regain post-surgery, including lifestyle (e.g. sedentary time, eating behaviours), patient characteristics (e.g. age),  psychological health (e.g. depressive symptoms), hormonal/metabolic changes (e.g. initial post-surgery weight loss, gut hormone response and microbiota), and, surgical factors / clinical support.

Overall findings from these studies highlight the complexity of the mechanisms underlying weight loss and regain after GB and emphasise the need for well-designed prospective studies to further explore the prevalence, predictors, and mechanisms of weight regain.  Identifying these factors would provide valuable information on how to both effectively manage GB patients postoperatively, and to identify patients at baseline most likely to benefit from the surgery.

Ulster Gastric Bypass Cohort:

The proposed project is a follow-up study using the existing Ulster GB cohort, funded by a US-Ireland Grant.  Within the Ulster GB cohort study morbidly obese adult patients eligible for bariatric surgery (n=31) and weight stable controls (n=32) were recruited to take part in a residential observational trial at Ulster University.

Each subject was assessed pre-surgery, and at 3, 12, and 24 months post-surgery, with controls being time-matched.  The final visits are currently being completed. During each study visit participants stayed for two nights in the Human Intervention Studies Unit to allow objective measurements to be undertaken, including, total and regional body composition (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry), basal metabolic rate (indirect calorimetry), 24-hour food intake and eating behaviour (covert weighing and direct observation), food liking and wanting, medications and gut hormone responses after a standardised breakfast.  Qualitative interviews were also conducted.

This proposal seeks to follow this cohort up at 5 years post-surgery in order to identify lifestyle, psychological and metabolic factors associated with weight loss, maintenance and regain after gastric bypass surgery. PhD aim: To investigate the prevalence, and possible pre- and post-operative predictors, of weight regain in the existing Ulster GB cohort 5 years postsurgery.

Proposed PhD Outline:

1. Review of factors that may impact on weight regain post-GB surgery.

2. Anthropometric and eating behaviour-related predictors of weight regain post-GB surgery

3. Changes in gut signalling post-GB surgery and its associations with weight regain

4. Qualitive predictors of weight regain in GB patients 5 years postsurgery It is hoped that outcomes from the study will help inform patient care to improve long-term weight loss maintenance.


Essential criteria

  • To hold, or expect to achieve by 15 August, an Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC) in a related or cognate field.
  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • Completion of Masters at a level equivalent to commendation or distinction at Ulster
  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain
  • Work experience relevant to the proposed project
  • Publications - peer-reviewed
  • Publications record appropriate to career stage
  • Experience of presentation of research findings
  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement
  • Use of personal initiative as evidenced by record of work above that normally expected at career stage.
  • Relevant professional qualification and/or a Degree in a Health or Health related area

Funding

    The University offers the following awards to support PhD study and applications are invited from UK, EU and overseas for the following levels of support:

    Vice Chancellors Research Studentship (VCRS)

    Full award (full-time PhD fees + DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £15,000 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Vice-Chancellor’s Research Bursary (VCRB)

    Part award (full-time PhD fees + 50% DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £7,500 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fees Bursary (VCRFB)

    Fees only award (PhD fees + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Department for the Economy (DFE)

    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £ 15,009 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fee’s component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided). For Non-EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK. This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Due consideration should be given to financing your studies; for further information on cost of living etc. please refer to: www.ulster.ac.uk/doctoralcollege/postgraduate-research/fees-and-funding/financing-your-studies


Other information


The Doctoral College at Ulster University


Reviews

Profile picture of Kieran O'Donnell

My experience has been great and the people that I have worked with have been amazing

Kieran O'Donnell - 3D printing of biological cells for tissue engineering applications

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Profile picture of Michelle Clements Clements

Completing the MRes provided me with a lot of different skills, particularly in research methods and lab skills.

Michelle Clements Clements - MRes - Life and Health Sciences

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Profile picture of William Crowe

Throughout my PhD I’ve been provided with continuous support and guidance by my supervisors and the staff at the University.I’ve also received many opportunities to further enhance my professional development in the form of teaching experience and presenting my work at conferences which will aid in my pursuit of a career in academia or industry.

William Crowe


Key dates

Submission deadline
Friday 7 February 2020

Interview Date
9 to 20 March


Applying

Apply Online  


Campus

Coleraine campus

Coleraine campus
The feeling of community at our Coleraine campus makes for a warm and welcoming student experience.


Contact supervisor

Dr Ruth Price


Other supervisors

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