Rapid diagnostic approaches for thoracic disease based on pleural effusions (PhD Scholarship)

Rapid diagnostic approaches for thoracic disease based on pleural effusions

Aberystwyth University, IBERS

Project ID: AU30008
Annual Stipend: £14,340
Application Deadline: 15th November 2017

A pleural effusion is a build-up of extra fluid in the pleural space between the lungs and the chest wall.   Pleural effusions can arise from leakage from other organs: usually from congestive heart failure but can also arise from liver or kidney disease or from pulmonary embolisms.  However, it is known that around half of people with cancer develop a pleural effusion. Common causes of malignant pleural effusion are lymphoma and cancers of the breast, ovary but particularly of the lung.

Pleural effusions therefore present potentially an important biofluid that should be used to inform clinical diagnosis. However, exploitation of pleural effusions in diagnosis has not progressed since their classification using Light’s Criteria in the 1970s. As a result pleural effusions may only tentatively be linked to the underlying pathology: infections of pneumonia/ TB/ virus, cancer or  congestive heart failure. The crudity of this approach can be addressed using the latest molecular tools to target precise diagnostic biomarkers which are linked to the underlying pathology.

This proposal builds on years of close collaboration by the Mur group in Aberystwyth University (AU) and Keir Lewis’s research team in Hywel Dda University Heath Board (HDUHB), which has focused on the development of biomarkers for the diagnosis of COPD and lung cancer in sputum. This project will extend the research interests of this collaborative team to focus on assessing pleural fluid for biomarkers for established diseases.  It will aim to provide the proof-of-principle information that will be required in order to take the targeted biomarkers through to potential commercial exploitation.

Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS 2) is a pan-Wales higher level skills initiative led by Bangor University on behalf of the HE sector in Wales. It is part funded by the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) convergence programme for West Wales and the Valleys.

The successful candidate will need to be resident in the convergence area on registration, and must have the right to work in the region on qualification. The successful applicant should have a minimum of a 1st or good 2:1 in a relevant degree, and be available to take up the studentship by January 2018. The project is part-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) through the European Union’s Convergence programme administered by the Welsh Government. KESS II PhD scholarships are collaborative awards with external partners. (Applicants need to only apply, they do not need to search for partners).

To apply, please submit the following to the Postgraduate Admissions Office (address below) by 15th November 2017.

  1. A completed Research Programme Application Form, two references. Application and reference forms may be downloaded from http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/postgrad/howtoapply/
  2. A completed KESS II Participant proposal form (put the reference number AU30008 in the top right hand box of the application form) and an up-to-date CV. KESS II application forms are available to download at the link below.


  1. A PhD proposal of up to 1,000 words where you expand on your experience and interests and describe why you are a good candidate for this research studentship. Please refer to the Project Description.


Value of Award: A stipend of £14,340 (rising in accordance with inflation for the remaining two years). Each scholarship has an additional budget for travel, equipment/consumables and training to support your research. KESS II PhD Scholarship holders do not pay fees.

Length: Full-time for 3 years. (Theses must be submitted 6 months after the funded three year study period.)

Training: The achievement of a Postgraduate Skills Development Award (PSDA) is compulsory for each KESS II scholar (The PSDA is based on a 60 credit award, which is an additional award to the PhD).

Eligibility: To be eligible to apply for a KESS II award, you must be resident, upon starting the scholarship, in the Convergence Area of Wales and you must be able to take paid employment in the Convergence area on completion of the scholarship.

The Convergence Area means the following counties of Wales:

Isle of Anglesey
Neath Port Talbot
Rhondda Cynon Taff

For further student eligibility criteria related to the individual projects, please view the details of the individual project above.

Informal enquiries should be made to Prof. Luis Mur at lum@aber.ac.uk or 01970 622981

Address for applications:

Postgraduate Admissions Office
Recruitment & Admissions
Student Welcome Centre
Aberystwyth University
SY23 3FB

Quote Reference AU30008         

Closing date for applications 15th November 2017