The global prevalence of diabetes has almost doubled in the past 30 years and represents a leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputation. Current treatments for diabetes are not completely effective, and some are associated with adverse side effects. To meet this challenge, the Diabetes Research Group at Ulster conduct focused and world-leading research, that ultimately promises to result in impressive clinical benefits.
The Research Group activities are directed into four main themes, that include:
(i) insulin secretion and gene therapy,
(ii) antidiabetic actions of structurally modified peptides,
(iii) discovery, targets and action of antidiabetic drugs and
(iv) mechanisms of pancreatic beta-cell dysfunction.
To date, this ground-breaking work has resulted in a number of important research discoveries leading to development of a strong patent portfolio and intellectual property. Our continued growth offers new PhD students excellent opportunities within and across these various disciplines. Importantly, the track record of research training in diabetes at Ulster is exceptional. State-of-the-art equipment and expertise is available in a number of modern areas of biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology and peptide chemistry.
The Group provide a unique experience for innovative diabetes and biomedical training. A friendly team environment exists which has previously secured 100% PhD completion within 2-4 years registration. Work is conducted in an internationally recognised research environment, which places considerable emphasis on peer-reviewed publication, training and career progression. As such, the Group have an excellent research publication record, with many past students going on to take up leading positions in academia and industry within the field. In keeping with this, the Group has built an extensive range of external networks being the founder of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) Islet Study Group and playing a pivotal role in the establishment of the EU-funded Islet Research European and Latin-American Networks.
In summary, the overall strategy of the Diabetes Research Group at Ulster includes undertaking and publishing research of national and international status, exploiting intellectual property and pursuing technology transfer, providing a supportive and high quality training environment to facilitate the acquisition of knowledge and new skills. Taken together, undertaking your PhD studies within the world-renowned Diabetes Research Group at Ulster will offer you an unparalleled opportunity to progress your chosen career.
Biomedical Science at Ulster University has an outstanding and sustained record of success in research, recognised in the most recent REF2021 to be internationally excellent, world leading and ranked 5th out of 89 UK universities within the category of Allied Health Professions which encompasses the disciplines of biomedical sciences, nursing, nutrition, pharmacy, optometry, health sciences and personalised medicine. Our research is not only producing outputs of world leading quality but also credited with having significant global translation, impacting positively on health professionals, industry, the general public and specific patient groups. We are proud to have externally recognised world-leading research environment which scored 100% 4*rating in REF 2014 and 2021.
Biomedical Sciences research activities are currently organised within distinct Research Centres: Diabetes, Food & Health (through Nutrition Innovation Centre for Food and Health (NICHE)), Genomic Medicine, Pharmaceutical Sciences & Practice, Personalised Medicine and Optometry & Vision Science.
Multi-disciplinary collaboration between the research groups is strongly encouraged and is widespread with research into, for instance, anti-diabetic and antioncogenic aspects of nutrition, the genomics of vitamin receptors, visual deterioration or cancer, imaging of neovascularisation. Our research investigates the interaction between cardiovascular disease and vision and the impact of health and disease, diet, diabetes on dementia, hypertension, autoimmunity, vascular and inflammatory disease, to name a few.
The research groups collaborate both internally and internationally on a range of prioritized multi-disciplinary themes in functional foods, gene-nutrient interactions; pregnancy and early life; healthy ageing, musculoskeletal health; drug discovery and delivery, personalized medicine and genomic medicine. The BMSRI has strong collaborations with regional and global pharmaceutical and diagnostics companies and many of our graduates and postgraduates gain employment in the government bodies, pharma, diagnostics, and health care sectors as well as academia and through self-employment.
The Biomedical Sciences Research Institute (BMSRI) offers a “state-of-the-art” research environment for high profile researchers to undertake internationally agenda setting research in strategically prioritized areas of biomedicine. This research environment within Biomedical Sciences at Ulster has been continually judged as exceptional and world-leading and awarded the highest 100% ranking within the RAE2008, REF2014 and REF2021. Furthermore, in the Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) awards, it was ranked 2nd in the UK, with an overall satisfaction rate of 88%.
Our research is carried out in well-equipped laboratories allowing the latest methods to be applied to individual projects. Our infrastructure is managed as Core Facility Units (CFUs) with equipment and laboratories dedicated to supporting pre-clinical studies, controlled human trials with expertise in vascular research, advanced molecular bioimaging/microscopy, bioinformatics, cell technologies, cellular biology, chemical analysis, genomics, proteomics/metabolomics (including mass spectrometry & NMR analysis), ocular imaging and psychophysics, transgenics, physiology and pharmacology.
The BMSRI research infrastructure also includes centralized resources for: high throughput drug screening in vitro assays, clinical research & human intervention studies/ trials; the use and storage of mammalian cells and tissues; and in vivo studies and animal models that replicate human disease. The BMSRI uses its estate of equipment, specialist laboratories, infrastructure and internationally recognized biomedical expertise to offer clinical & translational services to Academic Researchers and Industrial Business partners. The BMSRI routinely engages in collaborative research with some of the world’s leading pharmaceutical and biomedical companies and through the support of Ulster’s Office of Innovation, the University has established a track record of success in the commercialization of its research outcomes.
Research within BMSRI frequently involves collaboration between clinicians, academics and businesses in the life and health sector contributing to the development and launch of innovative health technologies, medical devices, and therapeutics. In addition to high-spec capabilities such as human genome sequencing, flow-cytometry and tissue culture, the close proximity of our research centres to hospitals permits direct access to NHS diagnostic laboratories, Clinical staff, and expertise in research governance and healthcare economics.
The SAAD Centre for Pharmacy and Diabetes provides contemporary and state-of-the-art facilities to support our diabetes and metabolomics research activities, as well as facilities for mass spectrometric and NMR analysis. This building also provides infrastructural support for our newly launched pharmacy/pharmaceutical sciences courses and associated research activities. These include: the formulation and production of antimicrobials for pharmaceutical applications; health promotion in community pharmacies; and the discovery and development of novel therapeutics such as anti-cancer agents, luminescent and nanoparticle sensors, bioimaging, photo/sono-dynamic therapy, and polymeric and nanoparticle drug delivery systems’.
Applicants should hold, or expect to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a subject relevant to the proposed area of study. We may also consider applications from those who hold equivalent qualifications, for example, a Lower Second Class Honours Degree plus a Master’s Degree with Distinction.
In exceptional circumstances, the University may consider a portfolio of evidence from applicants who have appropriate professional experience which is equivalent to the learning outcomes of an Honours degree in lieu of academic qualifications.