Prevention of Diabetes Related Kidney Disease (DRKD): Using Artificial Intelligence Empowered Retinal Image Analysis to Transform Clinical Outcomes

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

Funding details: Bursary plus tuition fees plus additional allowances

Duration: Full-Time – between 3-3.5 years fixed term

Application deadline: 31 May 2022

Interview date: Will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates

Start date: September 2022

For further details contact: Associate Professor Robyn Tapp


Coventry University is inviting applications from suitably-qualified graduates for a (fully-funded) PhD studentship

Project Details

Background: Personalised medicine in diabetes could be greatly enhanced through the use of cutting-edge technology, enabling improved individualised treatment recommendations, particularly for the prevention of disability from long-term complications. Early detection of retinal microvascular changes, before the onset of clinically significant complications (e.g. diabetes related kidney disease (DRKD), retinopathy and neuropathy) is key to reducing the burden of diabetes by providing an “early warning system” and an indicator of disease status, enabling improved individualised treatment recommendations.

Aims: To develop a novel AI empowered image based DRKD risk prediction prototype tool (requiring retinal images only) and assess its predictive value in quantifying individual five-year risk of developing DRKD.

Methods: This project will develop and evaluate AI-algorithms to predict five-year risk of developing DRKD using an extraordinarily large longitudinal cohort. DRKD outcomes and clinical data (i.e. biochemistry and blood-pressure) at each time point are available. We will also assess approaches to best implement the DRKD risk prediction tool within clinical practice.

Summary: The project has potential to improve healthcare outcomes for people with diabetes, by providing an ‘early warning system’, meeting the sustainability development goal of good health and well-being.

How will the joint programme work?

The successful candidate commencing at Coventry University will enrol at Coventry University, UK as their home institution and will spend a minimum of 12 months at Deakin University.

A typical 3-year pattern of attendance is shown below although the concrete plan would be developed in response to the proposed research design and with the mutual agreement of the supervision team. 

Year Study Place  
1 Coventry University, UK Tution fee waivers + stipend
2 Deakin University Tution fee waivers + stipend
3 Coventry University, UK Tution fee waivers + stipend


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 overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component)
Additional Requirements
  • Knowledge of related software (Matlab, Python, STATA, etc.)

How to apply

To find out more about the project please contact Associate Professor Robyn Tapp.

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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