Skip to main content

Investigating a novel exercise intervention in peripheral artery disease: finding a ‘bridge’ to walking


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Monday 11 March 2024
Country eligibility
UK only
Source of funding
University of Leeds
Additional supervisors
Dr Yasina Somani, Dr Melanie Burke, Dr Toni Lassila
School of Biomedical Sciences
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

The following funded PhD project will be based in the Vascular Biodynamics Lab within the Faculty of Biological Sciences and aims to investigate a novel exercise intervention in improving vascular, cognitive, and functional outcomes in patients with peripheral artery disease. This project offers an opportunity for the prospective candidate to carry out collaborative clinical work with the Leeds Teaching Hospitals, the Department of Psychology, and Centre for Fluid Dynamics at the University of Leeds.

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Full description</h2>

<p>Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is characterized by atherosclerotic narrowing of the peripheral arteries that classically affects the lower extremities. Approximately 20% of people aged 60 and above in the UK have some degree of PAD and this is destructive to health and well-being in two important ways. First, PAD patients have marked impairments in delivering oxygen to their leg muscles during walking and other ambulatory activities. This restricts daily activities and functional independence and can provoke exertional leg pain (claudication). Second, PAD patients have a substantially increased risk of cardiovascular events, including death. Whilst regular exercise is known to be an effective therapy for PAD, it can be difficult for patients to tolerate and sustain over time. The pain that accompanies walking programs reduces adherence rates to traditional walking-based exercise interventions, and this is especially true for self-supervised programs. Emerging research shows that there may also be differences in responsiveness to exercise training programs in men and women who have PAD, with women showing reduced responsiveness to exercise training. A recent statement from the American Heart Association emphasized the need to investigate sex-specific responses to exercise training in PAD patients.</p> <p>The current project will investigate a novel exercise intervention on improving vascular, cognitive, and functional outcomes (improve walking ability) in patients with PAD and we will compare these responses between men and women. We have previously shown that local forms of exercise (handgrip) can elicit protective effects to the vasculature in people with elevated cardiovascular disease risk. Whether this more accessible and cost-effective type of exercise can also benefit a patient population with more severe vascular impairments has yet to be studied.</p> <p>This project offers the opportunity to learn a range of methods that involve ultrasound imaging, near-infrared spectroscopy recording, and computational modelling. This opportunity will be well suited for a candidate who can work well with others as part of a team and be able to communicate effectively with research participants who will be patients. Applicants with research and/or professional experience in exercise physiology, physiotherapy, nursing, psychology, biomedical science, medicine, and other relevant areas of health are encouraged to apply.&nbsp;</p>

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>To apply for this scholarship opportunity applicants should complete an<a href=""> online application form</a> and attach the following documentation to support their application.&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li>a cover letter</li> <li>a full academic CV</li> <li>degree certificate and transcripts of marks</li> <li>Evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (if applicable)</li> </ul> <p>To help us identify that you are applying for this project please ensure you provide the following information on your application form;</p> <ul> <li>Select PhD in Biological Sciences as your programme of study</li> <li>Give the full project title and name the supervisors listed in this advert</li> <li>Please state &quot;Faculty Funded Scholarship&quot; when asked for source of funding</li> </ul> <p><em>As an international research-intensive university, we welcome students from all walks of life and from across the world. We foster an inclusive environment where all can flourish and prosper, and we are proud of our strong commitment to student education. Across all Faculties we are dedicated to diversifying our community and we welcome the unique contributions that individuals can bring, and particularly encourage applications from, but not limited to Black, Asian, people who belong to a minority ethnic community, people who identify as LGBT+ and people</em></p>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to this scholarship in the School of Biology should normally have an Undergraduate degree of 2:1 or above (or international equivalent) in a relevant subject area. A Master&rsquo;s degree is desirable, but not essential.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study is an IELTS of 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid. Some schools and faculties have a higher requirement.

<h2 class="heading">Funding on offer</h2>

<p>This scholarship is funded by the Faculty of Biological Sciences. The scholarship will provide academic fees at the UK rate, as well as a stipend of &pound;18,622 (based on the 2023/24 stipend rate) for up to three years. Due to limited funding we can only consider applicants eligible to pay academic fees at the UK fee rate. If you are unsure if this applies to you, please contact the admissions team: for more information.</p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For further information about this project please contact Dr Yasina Somani:</p> <p><a href=""></a></p> <p>For further information about how to apply please contact the Faculty Admissions Team<br /> e: <a href=""></a></p>