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Risk Factor Trajectories and Development of Diabetic Retinopathy

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

Funding details: Bursary plus tuition fees.

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

Application deadline: 31 May 2022

Interview dates: Will be confirmed to shortlisted candidates.

Start date: September 2022

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

Project details

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

Background: Early detection of microvascular changes, before the onset of clinically significant complications, 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. Risk factor trajectories may help inform potential pathways of disease processes and prediction of diabetes related retinopathy, as understanding how models predict risk remains a substantial problem of even newer deep learning approaches.

Study aim: To study risk-factor trajectories (in terms of level and change over time) preceding development of retinopathy. To determine the secular trends in the development of retinopathy and other complications of diabetes.

Methods: This project will develop and evaluate risk factor trajectories with the development retinopathy using an extraordinarily large longitudinal cohort. Complication outcomes and clinical data (e.g. HbA1c, systolic blood pressure, body mass index, total cholesterol and diabetes duration) at each time point are available. Linear spline mixed-effects models, (two levels: measurement occasion and individual), fitted using the statistical package MLwiN version 3.02 will be applied.

Summary: Risk factor trajectories (both the levels and changes in risk factors over time) may influence the development of retinopathy and assist in developing better prevention strategies in the care for people with type 2 diabetes and bring new insight into the pathogenesis of retinopathy.

How will the joint programme work?

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


Study Place



Deakin University

Tuition fee waivers + Stipend


Coventry Uni, UK

Tuition fee waivers + Stipend


Deakin University

Tuition fee waivers + Stipend


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

Other benefits

  • Throughout the programme the candidates will have a joint supervisory team and work in close collaboration with researchers 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 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)

How to apply

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

All applications when submitted will 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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