Closing date: 31 January 2020

Start date: April 2020

Subject areas: In Vitro Systems; In Vivo Models; Cell Biology; Cell Culture; Toxicology; Air Pollution; Particulate; NO2

Fully Funded Public Health England PhD Scholarship: Use of advanced multi-cellular models of the human respiratory system to investigate the mechanistic effects of particulate and gaseous air pollutants

This scholarship is funded by Public Health England (PHE).

It is estimated that long-term exposure to air pollution in the UK has an annual effect equivalent to 28,000 to 36,000 deaths. The major pollutants in urban environments are particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which derive predominantly from transport. While the link between air pollution and adverse health consequences (identified through epidemiological studies) is becoming clearer, trying to separate the effects of NO2 and PM using epidemiological studies is difficult. However, the study is important in order to maximise the positive health impacts of NO2 targeted policies and interventions, particularly as the UK currently fails to meet statutory NO2 levels. The expert Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP) recently highlighted the scarcity of relevant, mechanistic toxicology studies relating to exposures to NO2 alone and in combination with PM exposures, which it considers has the potential to provide underpinning knowledge of the causality of adverse health effects and their specificity to NO2. Thus, the proposed project will address this issue from a toxicological perspective and will involve exposing advanced cellular systems representing parts of the lung to NO2 with and without PM (all at realistic concentrations) and assessing biological endpoints representative of air pollution associated lung diseases (e.g. chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and lung cancer). This will allow for the identification of the specific mechanisms underlying these effects and their relationship to NO2 exposure.

This project is a collaboration between Swansea University Medical School (Dr Martin Clift and Professor Shareen Doak) and Public Health England (PHE) (Dr Rachel Smith, Dr Sarah Robertson and Dr Martin Leonard). The student will be placed in the In Vitro Toxicology Group at SUMS, but also undertake placement(s) at PHE during the studentship. The project is fully funded for 3 years.

For more details please see here:

Administrative Contacts & How To Apply

To apply, please complete and submit the following documents to Dr Martin Clift, email:  [email protected]

  • Letter of motivation
  • Up-to-date CV

For enquiries, please contact Dr Martin Clift, email: [email protected] telephone: +44 (0)1792 602742.

Entry Requirements

Candidates should hold a minimum of 2:1 undergraduate degree in life sciences and/or associated areas to subject area of the project.

We would normally expect the academic and English Language requirements (IELTS 6.5 or equivalent) to be met by point of application.

For details on the University’s English Language entry requirements, please visit –

Key Characteristics: The applicant must be a self-motivated individual with an interest in the Life Sciences, and hold an undergraduate (BSc) degree (minimum classification 2:1) in a Life Sciences associated discipline (e.g. biology, biochemistry, toxicology). They should ideally also have laboratory experience (e.g. cell culture techniques, biochemical assays), a willingness to learn and have a basic level of information technology skills.

Desirable Characteristics: Cell culture experience; excellent communication skills/working with people.

Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is open to UK/EU applicants only.

Funding Notes

This scholarship covers the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees and a total stipend of £51,500 available over a 3-year period.

There will be additional funds of £34,990 available over a 3-year period for research expenses.

Funding Information

Funding applies to:

UK and EU students.

Application Deadline:

31 January 2020

Please see our website for how to apply:
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