Gestational Diabetes: Fully Funded PhD Scholarship at Swansea University: Disrupting the diagnostic paradigm for gestational diabetes using blood-based Raman spectroscopy

  • Phd
  • Full cost of UK/EU tuition fees, plus a stipend
  • 11 May 2018

This scholarship is funded by Diabetes UK.
Subject areas: Gestational diabetes; diagnostics; Raman spectroscopy; mass spectrometry; qualitative methods; health economics
Start date: July 2018 or October 2018
Project:¬†Gestational diabetes (GDM) is diabetes that occurs only during pregnancy. It is linked with pregnancy complications - larger babies can make delivery difficult leading to injury to the baby or an emergency caesarean section - and to increased risk of later development of type 2 diabetes by mother and child. Therefore, GDM testing is offered to many pregnant women. The current GDM test ‚Äď glucose tolerance test - requires overnight fasting and attending hospital for a few hours the following morning. The considerable time and effort from pregnant women and hospital staff makes this test costly and if, like many other countries, the UK decides to test all pregnant women for GDM these costs will increase. Our goal is to develop a quicker, cheaper and better test for GDM. Our test uses a technique called Raman spectroscopy that works by shining laser light onto blood serum and measuring how much light is scattered off the chemicals and molecules in the sample. This provides a unique fingerprint that can be related to specific pregnancy-related health problems for each individual woman. We aim to evaluate if our proposed test is as good as the current test, how welcome our test would be and the cost benefits of our test. The study has four parts. 1. Pregnant women undergoing the current GDM test will provide a small extra blood sample for Raman spectroscopy to determine if our new test can reliably identify women with GDM. 2. Pregnant women and hospital staff will be interviewed about their views on the current GDM test versus this proposed new test to enable evaluation of whether any new quicker test would be welcomed by all users using qualitative methodologies. 3. The cost of this proposed new test will be compared to that of the current test using a health economics approach. 4. As the serum fingerprint generated during part 1 of the project is a measure of many molecules that change, mass spectrometry will be used to identify the molecules that contribute to any spectral differences. This also should help us to better understand why GDM occurs only in some women. All of these approaches will enable us to determine if our test will be of benefit for GDM testing and diagnosis in the future.
Supervisors and facilities: The project will be supervised by Professor Cathy Thornton and Dr Ed Dudleywith wider support from obstetricians, midwives, physicists, qualitative methods and health economic specialists. Laboratory work will be within the Institute of Life Science and Centre for NanoHealth in Swansea University Medical School on the Singleton Park Campus of Swansea University. The Medical School is adjacent to Singleton Hospital where glucose tolerance testing takes place.


Candidates must hold a minimum of a BSc in a relevant area with at least a 2:1 in Biomedical Science (biochemistry, immunology, etc.) or Physics.
Ideally the candidate will have some experience with a laboratory project as part of BSc training or MSc/MRes or equivalent.
Due to funding restrictions, this studentship is open to UK/EU candidates only. 
We would normally expect the academic and English Language requirements to be met by point of application. For details on the University‚Äôs English Language entry requirements, please visit ‚Äst


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This scholarship covers the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees and a stipend of £17,000 in year 1 (rising to £17,500 in year 2 and £18,000 in year 3) .
There is also an additional £9,000 per year available for research and support.


Please visit our website for more information.

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