125th Anniversary Scholarship in Sports, Exercise and Rehabilitation

A new PhD scholarship for Black British Researchers in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences

PhD Project: Understanding the health benefits of exercise on the liver within the paradigm of small extracellular vesicle crosstalk

This PhD project will be based in the School of Sports, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences which is part of the College of Life and Environmental Sciences.

The deadline for applications is 23:59 (UK time) on Tuesday 30 April 2024.

About the project

Exercise represents a crucial element of health and wellness. The integrated response to the energy demands of movement produce adaptations associated with improved health and wellbeing that are incompletely understood. An intriguing observation we have made of late is that exercise stimulates the appearance of 20-300nm sized vesicles (small EVs) containing important regulatory proteins, raising the possibility that this process may facilitate some of the systemic adaptations to, and health benefits of, regular physical activity. In addition, we have shown that small EVs released during exercise have preferred localisation to the liver and importantly, weekly doses of small EVs from exercising rodent donors improve liver function in a preclinical rodent model of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). These initial findings have highlighted the possibility that small EVs provide a delivery mechanism of regulatory proteins to the liver and provides a mechanistic link between regular exercise and prevention/treatment of disrupted liver metabolism.

The aim of this project is to characterise the release and metabolic significance of small extracellular vesicle secretion, with a particular focus on liver health. Using a combination of in vitro and in vivo experiments, the dynamics of sEV release and metabolic impact will be investigated, incorporating cutting edge characterisation methods and ‘omics’ based investigative approaches.

References

  • Whitham, M., et al (2018) Extracellular vesicles provide a means for tissue cross talk during exercise. Cell Metabolism 27(1) 237-251
  • McIlvenna, L. C. et al. (2023) Single vesicle analysis reveals the release of tetraspanin positive extracellular vesicles into circulation with high intensity intermittent exercise. Journal of Physiology 601, 5093–5106

Entry Requirements

Applicants will be expected to have a good Honours degree (First Class or Upper Second Class Honours degree) awarded by a recognised University in a relevant subject. A Masters MSc degree is preferred.

Who can apply?

These scholarships are designed to create opportunities and address the underrepresentation of talented Black or Black mixed heritage students in academia. Applicants who meet all of the following criteria are eligible to apply:

  1. UK nationals and eligible for registration as Home students
  2. Members of one of the following ethnic groups:
    • Black African
    • Black Caribbean
    • Black Other
    • Mixed – White and Black Caribbean
    • Mixed – White and Black African
    • Other mixed background (to include Black African, Black Caribbean or Black Other)
  3. Not already enrolled on a PhD programme at the University of Birmingham

What does the scholarship provide?

  1. Financial Support: Recipients of these scholarships will receive substantial financial support, including a stipend at UKRI rates, which is set at £18,622 per year. This support covers tuition fees, living expenses, and research-related costs, including bench fees. This support is designed to alleviate the financial burden often associated with pursuing a doctoral degree.
  2. Mentorship and Guidance: Scholarship recipients will benefit from mentorship opportunities and guidance from accomplished faculty members who are dedicated to helping them succeed in their academic and research endeavours.
  3. Research Opportunities: We are committed to providing an exceptional research environment. Students will have access to state-of-the-art facilities, cutting-edge resources, and a vibrant scholarly community.
  4. Community Building: A key component of the scholarship programme is the creation of a supportive community of Black British researchers pursuing PhDs. This network will foster collaboration and peer support among scholars.
  5. Research Training Support Grant: In addition to financial support, scholarship recipients will receive a research training support grant. This grant is intended to support conference attendance, fieldwork, and other essential activities that enhance their research and academic growth.
  6. Commitment to Inclusivity: We are dedicated to building an inclusive academic environment that values diversity and ensures equitable access to education.

Contact the lead supervisor

Once applicants have familiarised themselves with the above project details, they are encouraged to contact the lead PhD supervisor to discuss the project and the applicant's suitability for the project. This is recommended before you submit an application to the PhD project.

How to apply

After applicants have made contact with the lead PhD supervisor, you will then need to apply to the PhD project using our online application portal: you should select '125th Anniversary Scholarships (LES)'. You will need to create an account for the online application portal and you will be prompted to sign-in upon your return to the portal.

You do not need to complete your application in one session; you can save your application at each stage and return to the portal at any stage before submission, particularly if you do not have all of the necessary documents when you begin your application.

As this is an 'advertised PhD', in which you will studying the above project that has already been provided by the academic supervisor(s), you do not need to submit a research proposal. Your personal statement will suffice for determining your suitability for the PhD project as well as your previous academic, professional and personal experiences.

The deadline for applications is 23:59 (UK time) on Tuesday 30 April 2024.

For your application you will need to submit the following documents:

Application portal tips

  • You don’t need to complete your application in one session. Simply save it and come back to it when you’re ready.
  • Avoid delays by checking all your information is accurate and complete.
  • Your application won’t be processed until you’ve completed all the relevant sections and submitted it.
  • If you run into any technical issues with your application, email us at directapplicationsystem@contacts.bham.ac.uk

What happens next?

Once you’ve submitted your application, we’ll send you details on how to access your applicant portal. You’ll be able to track the progress of your application, update your personal information, view decisions and accept offers.

Your application will be ‘pending’ on your portal while we check your application.

You can add or edit some details or documents within your application after it’s been submitted through your applicant portal. Or email pgadmissions@contacts.bham.ac.uk (include your applicant ID number) and we can add or edit for you.

Campus - Aston Webb

125 years of the University of Birmingham

In 2025, we’ll celebrate 125 years since the Royal Charter was granted. Founded in 1900, Birmingham represented a new model for higher education, as England's first civic university, a place where students of all backgrounds were accepted on an equal basis. One of the ways we’re celebrating this 125th anniversary is by making a significant investment in our research students. Birmingham is an outstanding place to live and carry out your research. Join us as we celebrate our 125th anniversary, and be part of our ambitious, exciting future. You will play an important part in driving the excellence of our research to make an even greater difference to the world around us.

Find out more

For more information about the scholarship programme, including announcements of available projects and the application process, please register your interest using the form below.