PhD studentship: Respiratory control and sensation in neurological patients

Closing Date
31 Dec 2019
Competition funded (UK/European students only).

Project Description

Oxford Brookes University
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences,
Department of Biomedical and Medical Sciences

3 Year, full-time PhD studentship
Eligibility: Home UK/EU applicants who must be permanently resident in UK/EU
Closing date: 131 December 2019
Start date: September 2020
Interview: w/c 13 January 2020
Bursary p.a.: Bursary equivalent to UKRI national minimum stipend plus fees (2019/20 bursary rate is £15,009)
University fees and bench fees at the Home/EU rate will be met by the University for the 3 years of the Studentship.
Supervisors: Dr. Shakeeb H Moosavi (Clinical Physiology), Professor Alex Green (Clinical Neuroscience/neurosurgery), Dr. Sanjay Kumar (Clinical Psychology)

This multidisciplinary project brings together overlapping concerns within respiratory medicine and neurology. The neurophysiological mechanisms of breathlessness (‘dyspnoea’) in cardiopulmonary disease is poorly understood, there remains a need for effective treatments to improve quality of life. In neurology, the respiratory consequences of neurological conditions and neurosurgical interventions are neglected and cardiorespiratory dysfunction under-appreciated.

Various neurological patients will be studied, including those with Parkinson’s and Myaesthenia Gravis. Novel techniques will be employed to stimulate the brain using deep brain stimulation (DBS) via surgically implanted electrodes and by repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS). Local field potentials (LFPs) will be recorded from implanted electrodes. Training will also be provided in conventional lung function, magnetoencephalography and brain imaging techniques.

The project builds on a developing collaboration between the cardiorespiratory research group at Brookes and Oxford University’s Clinical Neurosciences department at John Radcliffe Hospital. Recent publications from this collaboration have reported a substantial reduction in ‘air hunger’ with DBS of the motor thalamus (Green et al., 2019, Brain Stimul 12: 827-828) and improvements in upper airway function with DBS of the pedunculopontine region in patients with Parkinson’s (Hyam et al., 2019, Ann Clin Transl Neurol 6: 837-847). Other, unpublished data has demonstrated differential changes in LFPs in the left and right anterior cingulate cortex that vary according to the respiratory paradigm.

The broad aim is to elucidate the role of various brain nuclei in respiratory function/dysfunction, and provide insight into whether this knowledge can translate into therapies for chronic respiratory conditions. The work would extend current knowledge of cerebral mechanisms of dyspnoea and may shed new light on the extent to which multi-morbidity can account for respiratory dysfunction and breathlessness in neurological patients.

The project would suit those with a background in systems physiology, neuroscience, biological psychology, or with medical training specialising in respiratory medicine or neurology (or related speciality). For further information contact Dr Shakeeb Moosavi ( and/or visit the following websites:

Applicants should have a first or upper second class honours degree from a Higher Education Institution in the UK. EU Applicants must have a valid IELTS Academic test certificate (or equivalent) with an overall minimum score of 7.0 and no score below 6.0 issued in the last 2 years by an approved test centre.

How to apply:
Applications should be sent to and should include the following application form (View Website)

For more information, please click here.