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PhD Studentship (3 years) Nutritional deficiencies and microvascular function in patients with chronic eye disease: the effect of L-Methylfolate Calcium

School of Optometry

Location:  Aston University Main Campus
Basis:  Full Time
Closing Date:  23.59 hours BST on Friday 16 July 2021
Reference:  R210138
Release Date:  Thursday 29 April 2021

Department: College of Health and Life Sciences

Contract Type: Fixed Term

Basis: Full Time

Closing Date: 23:59 GMT on 16th July 2021 (or until the position is filled) 

Supervisor: Dr Doina Gherghel

Associate Supervisor: Dr Irundika Dias

Project Reference: Gherghel_50:50_Eye Disease

Applications are invited for a three year Postgraduate studentship, supported by the College of Health and Life Sciences, to be undertaken within the Optometry and Vision Sciences  Research Group at Aston University.  The successful applicant will join an established experimental group working on retinal vascular function and nutritional deficiencies in chronic eye diseases.  The studentship is offered in collaboration with Aprofol AG (Ltd.), Switzerland.

The position is available to start in October 2021.

Financial Support

This studentship includes a fee bursary to cover the Home fees rate, plus a maintenance allowance of £15,609 (subject to eligibility). 

Background to the Project

Patients with chronic eye diseases, such as glaucoma, AMD and DR suffer from a generalized micronutrients deficiency that includes, among others, folate, Vitamin B6 and B12. These deficiencies contribute to an abnormal Hcy metabolism and, therefore, to abnormal microcirculation, increased severity of chronic ocular diseases but also to systemic vascular complications, including cardiovascular disease (CVD). Many studies have looked at the importance of vitamin supplementations in these patients. Nevertheless, so far there is no research looking at the effect of such supplementation on retinal microcirculation in parallel with a systemic vascular outcome. By using our unique experience and research set-up, the aims of the proposed research are: 1) to prospectively determine the effect of vitamins and L-Methylfolate Calcium on retinal vascular function, retinal venous pressure as well as on disease prognosis in patients with chronic eye diseases; 2) to determine the effect of the above supplementation on each patient’ risk for CVD, and; 3) to provide data for evidence-based individual-tailored health-improving interventions. 

The student will benefit from working with a highly successful inter-disciplinary team and will gain knowledge and expertise not only in various ocular imaging methods but also in highly specialised laboratory blood assessments. They will also have the opportunity of using modern data-processing techniques and get exposed to the modern principles of personalized medicine. In addition, will also benefit from input from our prestigious partner, Aprofol AG (Ltd.). All this experience will contribute towards creating a translational scientist with high and desirable scientific potential.

Person Specification

The successful applicant should have been awarded, or expect to achieve, a Masters degree in a relevant subject with a 60% or higher weighted average, and/or a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree (or an equivalent qualification from an overseas institution) in medicine, optometry, biomedical sciences, pharmacy or other related areas.  Preferred skill requirements include knowledge/experience of working with patients in a hospital or health practice environment and good communication skills.   

Details of our full entry requirements can be found here.

Contact information

For formal enquiries about this project contact Dr Doina Gherghel by email at

Submitting an application

As part of the application, you will need to supply:

  • A copy of your current CV
  • Copies of your academic qualifications for your Bachelor degree, and Masters degree (if studied); this should include both certificates and transcripts, and must be translated in to English.
  • A research proposal statement*
  • Two academic references
  • Proof of your English Language proficiency

Details of how to submit your application, and the necessary supporting documents can be found here.  Please select “Research Health Sciences (including Psychology, Ophthalmic, Pharmacy Research areas) (Full time Oct 2021)” from the application from options.

*The application must be accompanied by a “research proposal” statement. An original proposal is not required as the initial scope of the project has been defined, candidates should take this opportunity to detail how their knowledge and experience will benefit the project and should also be accompanied by a brief review of relevant research literature.

Please include the supervisor name, project title and project reference in your Personal Statement.

If you require further information about the application process please contact the Postgraduate Admissions team at 

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Further particulars and application forms are available in alternative formats on request i.e. large print, Braille, tape or CD Rom.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact HR via



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