Mature male sitting on sofa in living room using dumbbell workout exercise

Evaluating Regional Specific Training Stimulus (RSTS) for people with COPD attending pulmonary rehabilitation

Eligibility: UK/International (including EU) graduates with the required entry requirements

Duration: Full-Time – between three and three and a half years fixed term

Application deadline: 27 May 2024

Interview date: Will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates

Start date: September 2024

For further details contact: Dr Agnieszka Lewko 

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The Trailblazer PhD studentships have been devised and developed by leading early-career researchers at Coventry University.


Pulmonary rehabilitation has many benefits for people with COPD including reduced breathlessness and improved quality of life. However, uptake is low and drop-out is high meaning many people do not benefit.

Existing approaches to exercise training may be overly demanding for some people, as they require combined strength and aerobic training which significantly increase energy expenditure and amplifying breathlessness and fatigue.

Project details

This PhD project aims to evaluate the proof of concept and feasibility of an alternative paradigm of exercise training for older adults with COPD, incorporating low-mass, high-repetition training – ‘regional specific training stimulus’ (RSTS) – into existing programmes. Using both quantitative and qualitative methodologies, this research has the potential to provide new directions for pulmonary rehabilitation programme design and exercise prescription for people with COPD.

The PhD researcher will work closely with the multi-disciplinary NHS clinical academic pulmonary rehabilitation team. They will have a number of opportunities for professional and personal development through Coventry University and external training, with a focus on the development of clinical academic skills within the areas of rehabilitation, clinical trials, and co-production.


This is a fully-funded studentship, including tuition fees and stipend/bursary.


The successful candidate will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills.

All researchers at Coventry University (from PhD to Professor) are part of the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development, which provides support with high-quality training and career development activities.

Entry requirements

  • A minimum of a 2:1 first degree in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum 60% mark in the project element or equivalent with a minimum 60% overall module average.


  • The potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within a 3.5 years.
  • A minimum of English language proficiency (IELTS academic overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component).

Additional specifications

  • An appropriate professional background which has included training for people with chronic respiratory conditions e.g. Physiotherapist or Exercise Physiologist
  • Experience of working with people with chronic respiratory conditions and/or within pulmonary Rehabilitation.



How to apply

To find out more about the project, please contact Dr Agnieszka Lewko

All applications require full supporting documentation, a covering letter, plus a 2000-word supporting statement showing how the applicant’s expertise and interests are relevant to the project.

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