Summary

Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) is the largest contributor to Cardiovascular Disease, and accounts for over a quarter of all deaths in Northern Ireland. Currently there is no definitive way to predict cardiac events. There is a crucial need therefore to develop better tests to predict those at risk of cardiovascular events for better disease management and ultimately to improve patient outcomes. In addition, little is known about molecular pathways impacted by many newly discovered cardiac biomarkers at NICSM, C-TRIC (These protiens are in the process of patent filing).

Recently, senescence was identified as the primary contributor to many age-associated diseases including CAD. We have undertaken a feasibility study on senescent proteins taking a multiplex proteomic approach in a prospective cohort of patients with CAD. Machine learning techniques were applied to the senescence related proteins identified, to yield predictive combinations that were able to accurately identify the CAD patients. A combination of just 3 senescence proteins was able to distinguish very high risk CAD patients from low risk with more than 90% accuracy. We cannot disclose names of these proteins due to intellectual property concerns, however, we want to urgently investigate their contribution to disease progression in cellular models. Not much is known about molecular pathways impacted by these senescence specific proteins.

The proposed project will manipulate these senescence proteins in two different models of senescence. We will perform RNA seq analysis on senescent cells with or without these biomarkers to uncover disease specific pathways impacted. Firstly, we will use our ER Ras senescence model system. ER Ras is an inducible senescence model, where we have engineered HRasG12V oncogene into IMR90 cells and these can be made senescent just by adding tamoxifen. Second model system to be utilized will the etoposide induced DNA damage model of senescence. Secondly, we will overexpress these biomarkers using standard models and investigate their contribution to the senescence program. We believe this could lead to discovery of innovative treatment options for CAD. The proposed 3-year project will be based at the Centre for Personalized Medicine (CPM) under the supervision of Dr Rai and Dr McGilligan research lecturers.

Researcher will be based at C-TRIC (Altnagelvin Hospital site).


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