Future pandemic preparedness: Reliable extraction of cardio-respiratory information in daily living conditions using wearable device

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

Funding details: Bursary plus tuition fees (UK/EU/International)

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

Application deadline: 15th January 2021

Interview dates: Will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates

Start date: May 2021

Informal Informal enquiries are essential before application. Please contact Prof Dingchang Zheng, Dr Haipeng Liu or Dr Chandan Karmakar to discuss this opportunity. 


Coventry University is inviting applications from suitably-qualified graduates for two fully-funded PhD studentships.

The successful candidates will join the overarching project ‘Future Pandemic Preparedness: Reliable extraction of cardio-respiratory information in daily living condition using wearable device’. This overarching project will comprise of two focus projects:

Nanotechnology based optical sensor for reliable daily cardio-respiratory monitoring led by Professor Dingchang Zheng and Dr Haipeng Liu, Coventry University

AI-empowered bio-signal processing algorithm for reliable long-term cardio-respiratory monitoring led by Dr Chandan Karmakar, Deakin University.

At a later stage, the candidates will work collaboratively in the development of an integrated solution.

Project details

Respiratory rate is a vital sign that provides important parameters for clinical diagnosis and management of various diseases. Non-invasive measurement of respiratory rate and associated information such as respiratory volume, O2 intake etc. can empower the healthcare providers in making better decision making. However, very little has progressed in the area of long-term respiratory monitoring in daily living conditions. AI-empowered innovative wearable technologies can be a great help for monitoring patients in and out of hospital settings, which will reduce burden on the healthcare system. There is also a great need to achieve reliable respiratory monitoring at home, especially during the pandemic. In order to achieve this, some engineering and technical challenges of wearable sensor development need to be tackled, and novel signal processing algorithms need to be developed and evaluated.

In the Coventry University-led PhD project, we aim to develop a truly wearable device that can reliably record optical photoplethysmographic (PPG) signal from different positions of the body for long-term monitoring. Based on nanomaterials, computational simulation, and quantitative testing, innovative wearable sensors will be developed, lab-tested, and initially validated on human subjects. We will co-design custom sensor and its skin attachment to improve the biocompatibility, accuracy, and reliability of the measurement during daily use towards good user experience.

In the Deakin University-led project, we will develop advanced signal processing framework to achieve reliable extraction of meaningful cardio-respiratory information using recordings from daily living conditions with robustness against various noises (environmental, body movement, etc.). The signals derived from the wearable sensor being developed will be analysed and compared in detail regarding different physiological parameters related with respiratory (e.g. respiratory rate and its variability, depth of breath, etc.). AI-based cloud computing will be explored to achieve the real-time processing of the big data generated during long-term monitoring.

We are looking for two highly motivated candidates who have strong interests in developing innovative healthcare technologies and have a broad understanding of cardio-respiratory physiology. The PhD project requires working with clinicians, biomedical engineers, and computer scientists at different stages along the development pathway – and will lead to high-quality publications. It will involve wearable sensor design, data collection, signal processing and analysis.


Coventry University and Deakin University jointly offer two fully-funded PhD studentships to UK/EU/INT as part of the Cotutelle PhD Programmes.

This will include:

  • Full tuition fees for up to 4 years
  • Stipend for up to 3.5 years (£15,285 (UKRI rate applied) equivalence AUD 27,799 per year approx) subject to satisfactory progress
  • A one-time economy return airfare to host institution
  • Student visa and medical insurance for the period at host partner
  • Conference allowances


  • Throughout the programme the candidates will have a joint supervisory team and work in close collaboration with research teams in both UK and Australia.
  • The successful candidates will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills at the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development at Coventry University
  • The supervisory team offers a substantial track record in successful doctoral supervision and expertise in the thematic areas identified.

Entry requirements

  • A minimum of a 2:1 first degree (second class honours upper division) in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum 70% mark in the project element or equivalent with a minimum 70% overall module average, or
  • A Master’s degree in a relevant subject area, with overall mark at minimum Merit level. In addition, the mark for the Master Dissertation (or equivalent) must be a minimum of 70%.
  • The potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within a prescribed period of study.
  • Language proficiency (IELTS overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component).

More information available on the Cotutelle website. 

In addition

  • The potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within 3.5 years;
  • Previous experience of wearable sensor development, digital signal processing or data engineering;
  • Knowledge of cardiology, respiratory system and statistical analysis;
  • Knowledge of related software (Matlab, Python, SPSS, etc.);
  • Ability to think innovatively and critically analyse data and results;
  • Good written and oral communication skills;
  • A record of presenting papers at conferences and of publishing peer reviewed research papers (desired);
  • Ability to meet deadlines, sometimes under pressure;
  • Ability to work independently and also as part of a local and international multidisciplinary team;
  • Willingness to take on roles to enhance research team activities and profile.

How to apply

Informal enquiries are essential before application. Please contact Prof Dingchang Zheng or Dr Chandan Karmakar in order to discuss these opportunities.

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 applied for.

Applications are submitted to both institutions. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed by a panel including academic staff from each institution. Applicants will need to submit copies of certificates to both institutions in line with their respective requirements.

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