PhD exploring vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy
The MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Centre (University of Southampton) is offering a fully funded PhD.
The MRC LEC is a world-leading research centre for musculoskeletal lifecourse epidemiology and early life programming research, and this project offers an exciting opportunity to investigate the role of pregnancy vitamin D supplementation on offspring musculoskeletal health.
The successful candidate will work with existing data from the internationally unique MAVIDOS randomised controlled trial of vitamin D supplementation in pregnancy and develop their own study to understand current vitamin D supplementation use in pregnant women.
Recent evidence suggests that vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy has benefits for maternal and offspring health. This project will use novel and existing data (blood biomarker, genetic and epigenetic data together with detailed clinical assessments of bone density and microarchitecture) to establish methods of personalising pregnancy vitamin D supplementation to optimise offspring musculoskeletal development.
The MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Centre (University of Southampton) is a world-leading research centre for musculoskeletal lifecourse epidemiology and early life programming. Using the internationally unique MAVIDOS randomised controlled trial, we have demonstrated that pregnancy vitamin D supplementation increases offspring bone mass at age 4 years. Detailed assessment of the children at 6-7 years including dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DXA) and high resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography (HR-pQCT; virtual bone biopsy) has been undertaken. In the UK, it is currently recommended that all women take vitamin D during pregnancy, but routine use of supplementation is low. Personalised approaches to medicine include both establishing characteristics which may direct the need for dose stratification and understanding current barriers to the use of supplementation. The specific aims of this project will be to (1) assess the effect of pregnancy vitamin D supplementation on growth in utero and during early childhood, and on indices of bone microarchitecture at 6-7 years of age (2) investigate whether these relationships are modified by clinical, genetic or epigenetic factors (3) establish characteristics and barriers associated with the uptake of vitamin D supplementation among pregnant women that may inform targeted approaches to public health messages. The project will both capitalise on existing data and allow the candidate to develop a new study to understand current pregnancy supplementation use. The candidate will gain skills in study design and execution, statistical methods, scientific writing, and presentation. They will develop specific understanding of musculoskeletal phenotypic methods such as DXA and HRpQCT, together with the knowledge and skills necessary to incorporate the existing genetic and epigenetic markers into the analyses.
The successful candidate is likely to have the following qualifications:
- A 1stor 2:1 degree in a relevant discipline and/or second degree with a related Masters.
Due to funding restrictions this position is only open to UK applicants.
This PhD studentship is funded for four years of stipend and three years of fees by NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre to commence 1st October 2023. Amount of stipend £18,154.00 plus fees at UK residency rate only