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Chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes are a major cause of premature death and disability globally. However, the majority of the evidence is mainly from high-income countries and the evidence from low- and middle-income countries, such as China, is limited.  In addition reliable large-scale epidemiological evidence on the relationship between physical activity and cardiometabolic markers is also limited.  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, physical activity) and physical measurements (e.g., BMI, blood pressure), and with follow-up for cause-specific mortality and any episodes of hospitalisation.

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, and dietary intake).
  3. Assess the nature of, and quantify the relationship between physical activity levels and cardiometabolic markers such as lipids and markers of inflammation. 

Research Experience, Research Methods and Training

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, statistical programming, data analysis and data presentation.

Field Work, Secondments, Industry Placements and Training

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 new knowledge on:  the role of physical activity in chronic disease epidemiology; transferable skills such as the writing project proposals; and gained experience of presenting research findings at relevant meetings and national/international conferences.

Prospective Candidate

A candidate with good degree in medicine or biomedical science, with and a postgraduate qualification (preferably an MSc) in epidemiology, global health or public health and an interest in chronic diseases.



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