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Possible Research Topics at the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing at UCL

Projects cover a wide range of topics and are multidisciplinary, some within LHA scientific research programmes, some cross-programme, and some with specialist collaborators in other research groups in the UK and abroad. They include projects that are part of the Unit’s research programmes into lifetime biological, psychological and social influences on cardiovascular and musculoskeletal ageing, physical and cognitive capability, neurodegeneration, psychiatric problems and wellbeing.

Projects utilise data from the MRC National Survey of Health and Development (NSHD), with some opportunities also available for cross-cohort comparison.  The MRC NSHD is the oldest of the British birth cohort studies, and is unique in having data from birth on the health and social circumstances of a representative sample of men and women born in March 1946, with biological samples collected at several time points in adult life.  A number of blood-based biomarkers related to health and disease have been measured and genetic and epigenetic data have been derived using a number of platforms such as the Illumina Cardio-Metabochip and the HM-450 beadchip. Cardiovascular, body composition and brain imaging have also been undertaken.

Interested candidates are encouraged to develop their own research interests and are strongly encouraged to discuss possible research topics and opportunities with the LHA team before applying. Please contact Dr Stephanie Pilling (Research Manager, in the first instance. Listed below are just a few examples of the different types of projects that are available.

Cross-Programme PhD Projects

Example PhD Projects

  • Epigenetics of ageing
  • Neuroendocrine and inflammatory pathways implicated in ageing
  • Metabolomics
    e.g. Midlife blood metabolites associated with cognitive decline
  • Physiological resilience in ageing
  • Lifetime reproductive function and ageing
  • Life course determinants of respiratory function and links with cardiovascular and musculoskeletal ageing
  • Parental longevity and offspring’s health
  • Common health conditions in later life, e.g. sleep disturbance, incontinence
  • Early life exposures and large scale structural and function brain networks

Functional Trajectories and cardiovascular ageing programme

Example PhD Projects

  • Life course behavioural, social and genetic determinants of body size trajectories; resilience to obesogenic environment
  • Socioeconomic inequalities in cardiovascular ageing; biological and social mechanisms underlying these inequalities

Physical Capability and musculoskeletal ageing programme

Example PhD Projects

  • Life time drivers of functional decline
  • Life time predictors of pain and fatigue and their inter-relationships with physical capability

Mental ageing programme

Example PhD Projects

  • Educational processes and mental ageing
  • Lifetime stress and mental ageing

Ageing Brain programme

Example PhD Projects

  • Early life predictors of neuroplasticity within the cortical motor networks
  • Life time social determinants of large scale structural and functional brain networks

Potential Supervisors at MRC LHA at UCL

  • Professor Diana Kuh
  • Dr. Rachel Cooper
  • Dr. Phil Curran
  • Dr. Daniel Davis
  • Professor Rebecca Hardy
  • Dr. Stella Muthuri
  • Professor Marcus Richards
  • Dr. Nikhil Sharma
  • Dr. Mai Stafford
  • Dr. Andrew Wong