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Postgraduate research project

Calculating neonatal biochemical age at the bedside to transform paediatric nutrition

Fully funded (UK only)
Type of degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Entry requirements
2:1 honours degree
(View full entry requirements)
Faculty graduate school
Faculty of Medicine
Closing date

About the project

This project will characterise the developing metabolic system of term and preterm infants across the first 6 months of life. This information will be used to develop a rapid bedside tool that may help to guide nutritional strategies to optimise infant health and development. 

Good growth in babies is essential for healthy development. Despite the best efforts of health care professionals, poor weight gain remains a big problem affecting many infants. This particularly affects preterm babies born before the 37th week of pregnancy. 

We believe that misalignment between the nutritional intake of these babies and their developing metabolic demands is a major contributor to this. These metabolic demands change at different rates across infants, known as metabolic maturation. Targeting nutrition at infant's chronological age is insufficient to meet individual requirements necessary to support good growth. 

We have recently developed an approach to calculate the metabolic maturity of children, spanning 3 to 24 months. We do this by measuring metabolites in their urine using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy.

As a researcher on this project, you will refine this tool to calculate the metabolic age of term and preterm infants across the first 6 months of life. We will then develop a bedside NMR-based approach that can rapidly calculate the metabolic age of infants in hospital. Finally, we'll assess whether this new approach to measure the infant’s metabolic age in hospital might offer valuble insights for guiding nutritional strategies. This project has potential to transform paediatric nutrition in the clinical environment.

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