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Student research project

Supervisor(s): Associate Professor Erin Howden and Dr Leah Wright

Project summary

Gender plays a major role in modulating the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Yet, women are underrepresented in clinical trials that aim to prevent heart disease, and outcomes are rarely specified in sex-specific terms. Physical activity levels play a key role in preventing the development of many chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. In a broader context, physical activity levels in women could produce different long-term CVD outcomes to men. Our group has extensively studied female athletes and physiological remodelling in response to lifetime exercise training. Extending work into physical activity rates and physiological response in a population-based cohort would enable our work to extend beyond physiological mechanism, to a translatable population-based approach.

This project has two separate aims:

  1. Gender-specific risk factors (e.g. disorders of pregnancy, high parity) accelerate CVD development in women. We aim to determine how physical activity acts as a modifier for CVD events after a pregnancy-based event.
  2. Vigorous exercise produces a pronounced central and peripheral physiological adaptations. Female gender may have a protective effect during vigorous exercise. Using the UK Biobank, we will identify rates of women who performed sustained vigorous exercise and determine CVD based events.

This project is suitable for a Masters, Honours or PhD student and will involve the application of bioinformatics, human research and data analysis.

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