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Higher physical activity is associated with decreased risk of major chronic disease in Western populations, but evidence from the Chinese population is limited. Moreover, most previous studies have assessed recreational-related physical activity rather than total activity from different domains. The China Kadoorie Biobank (CKB) is a prospective cohort study of 510,000 adults recruited during 2004-2008 from 10 diverse regions of China, with extensive data collection of lifestyle information (e.g., smoking, diet, alcohol and physical activity), and physical measurements (e.g., BMI, blood pressure). Metabolic equivalent of task (MET) of each activity (work, transportation, housework and active recreation) was estimated based on the information about the frequency and duration of each specific activity to calculate total physical activity in MET hours per day (MET-h/day).

Research Experience, Research Methods and Training

This project aims to provide reliable estimates of the strength of the relationship between of physical activity and the risk of chronic disease, both overall and at different levels of other risk factors.

The general aims of this DPhil project will be to:

  1. Describe patterns of physical activity in the CKB population, including distributions by age, gender, urban/rural area etc…
  2. Investigate the relationship between total physical activity, sedentary activity, and domain-specific physical activity with several chronic diseases (including, but not limited to, cancer, COPD, diabetes, cardiovascular disease) after accounting for potential confounding factors (e.g.  smoking, alcohol, adiposity, blood pressure, diet, socio-economic status).

This project will involve working within a multi-disciplinary team and the candidate will gain research experience in systematic literature reviews, study design and planning, epidemiological and statistical methodology, programming, data analysis and data presentation.

Field Work, Secondments, Industry Placements and Training

The DPhil will be based at CTSU, and there may be opportunities for involvement in future field work in China. By the end of their DPhil studies it is expected that the candidate will be able to plan, undertake and interpret statistical analysis of large-scale epidemiological data, and to report the findings in a clear and concise manner. The candidate will have acquired transferable skills such as the writing project proposals and presenting research findings at relevant meetings and national/international conferences. The candidate will be expected to publish 3-4 peer-reviewed papers by the end of their DPhil.

Prospective Candidate

The candidate should have a 2.1 or higher degree in biomedical science and an MSc in epidemiology or public health would be desirable. The candidate should also have a strong interest in chronic disease epidemiology.