Medical Humanities PhD research studentship, Glasgow Caledonian University

Glasgow School for Business and Society: Reference Number: S2015GSBS004

Studentship Project Title: Stress, Starvation, and Epigenetic Change: the historic origins of chronic ill-health amongst the Irish Diaspora.

Applications are invited for a full-time PhD research studentship at Glasgow Caledonian University within the Glasgow School for Business and Society. The studentship is for a period of three years, subject to satisfactory progress and provides payment of tuition fees at the UK/EU rate plus an annual stipend of £14,800 [please note that students from outside the EU are required to pay the difference between International and EU fees, currently this would amount to £7,100 per annum]. The successful candidate will carry out up to 6 hours of academic-related work per week as part of their research training.

Research Discipline

This is an interdisciplinary research project, which draws upon methodological approaches from History and Medicine. The primary discipline is History.

Research Theme

The project addresses the University’s societal challenge of ‘Healthy Lives’ in its focus upon the causes, and best means of prevention, of chronic illness. Moreover, it does so through two of the University’s research themes of Social Innovation and Equalities and Justice, and Public Health and Long-term Conditions. The studentship will use an historic case study of epigenetic change to explore health inequalities in Western Scotland, especially the health deficit suffered by communities of Irish descent. It will also examine the Irish diaspora in Canada, especially in New Brunswick. GCU’s commitment to the Common Weal is strengthened in this project through the examination of the ‘Glasgow Effect’, and the presentation of research findings that suggest means of alleviating the effects of deprivation in vulnerable cohorts. This work will have public health policy implications, in indicating means through which the worst effects of nutritional deprivation, and pre-natal stress, may be alleviated, and life-long chronic health conditions avoided.

Research Project Summary

The project is a highly innovative interdisciplinary examination of the impact of starvation and stress upon populations, and the long-term consequences of nutritional deprivation for quasi-closed communities. There are a number of key large-scale projects on historic epigenetic change that will help to shape the parameters of this work, including the Dutch Hunger Winter Study (University of Leiden), the Överkalix Cohort Study in Sweden, the series of projects on the transmission of Holocaust trauma and deprivation, and the growing body of work on the Chinese Famines of 1958-61. The findings of these projects, which confirm significant and inter-generational changes in long-term health profiles, will be applied to the post-Famine population in Ireland, and in the Irish diaspora in Scotland and Canada.

The Great Irish Famine of 1845-51 saw mass starvation and an extraordinary excess mortality rate – over a million died of hunger and disease in six years – and set a pattern of mass migration that halved the population over the course of 50 years. But it also had a less visible, but arguably equally devastating, consequence. The high levels of malnutrition and psychological stress suffered throughout this traumatic event, as well as periodic food shortages in the post-Famine era, ensured that epigenetic change occurred on a large scale. The general health profile of the Irish at home, and as migrant communities abroad, altered considerably as a result. Mental illness (especially schizophrenia) rose sharply, and a consistent pattern of abnormally raised rates of cardiovascular disease and type-two diabetes emerged. This profile expressed itself in disproportionately high levels of admission to psychiatric hospitals, and to the persistence of chronic physical illnesses, despite improving standards of living and the availability of better nutrition. Areas where the Irish settled in large numbers, for example in the West of Scotland and in New Brunswick, Canada, produced similar health profiles as the population in Ireland, suggesting strongly that epigenetic inheritance dominated over environmental factors.

Using longitudinal Vital Registration Data, as well as archival material from asylums and general hospitals, this project will provide evidence of the important role played by stress and nutrition in determining health profiles for specific communities. This has a direct application for modern health policy, given the recent disturbing findings from the United States that many poorer communities are simultaneously obese, yet malnourished. This study will indicate the circumstances under which health profiles in the cohort began to improve, offering insights into the best means to combat persistent patterns of ill-health.

Supervisory Team

How to Apply

Applicants should complete the University Research Application Form. Please email the form, stating the studentship project title and reference number, with a CV, copies of academic qualifications, references, and any other required documentation.

The closing date for applications is Monday 13th April 2015.


PhD Fellowship in Disability and Community Based Rehabilitation, Queen’s University, Ontario

The School of Rehabilitation Therapy’s International Centre for the Advancement of Community-Based Rehabilitation (ICACBR) at Queen’s University (Canada) is providing the opportunity for a cohort of disability and rehabilitation leaders from Commonwealth African and Asian countries to complete a PhD in Rehabilitation Science (RHBS) at Queen’s, with a specialization in international community-based rehabilitation (CBR).

The doctoral program in RHBS at Queen’s University stresses the multi-disciplinary contribution of many health professions and disciplines to rehabilitation. Queen Elizabeth II Scholars in international CBR will come to Queen’s for 3-4 years to complete a PhD in RHBS. With this program, community leaders will gain further education in leading international CBR projects through RHBS coursework, a CBR-focused dissertation, and a 10 hour/week community service commitment at the ICACBR office at Queen’s and with community partners. With training and experience in CBR, scholars will be challenged to find innovative, community-driven solutions that will result in improved access to health and social services for people with disabilities and their communities globally.


Successful candidates must demonstrate the following:

1. Academic Ability

2. Commitment to Community Development, CBR, and/or Disability Rights

3. Willingness/ability to lead international CBR programs following graduation.


Scholar eligibility:

  • Scholars must meet Queen’s guidelines for eligibility to pursue a PhD in Rehabilitation therapy. (Find eligibility requirements here.)
  • Scholars must demonstrate leadership capacity and a commitment to working with people with disabilities, families, and communities
  • Scholars must be 35 years of age or under at time of application
  • Scholars must be citizens from eligible Commonwealth countries.

For more information and directions on how to apply, please visit:

Medical Humanities Posts (x2)

Project Manager: The Life of Breath

The Centre for Medical Humanities (CMH) at Durham University is looking to appoint a Project Manager to for the Life of Breath, a five-year research project supported by a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award in the Medical Humanities. The ‘Life of Breath’ (LoB) is based in Durham University and the University of Bristol, and is directed by Professor Jane Macnaughton (Durham) and Professor Havi Carel (Bristol). The project team is spread across both institutions and meets regularly for interdisciplinary research discussion. The Project Manager will work alongside a dynamic, interdisciplinary team of researchers at Durham in the CMH and play a key role in the development of the ‘Life of Breath’ project team and in ensuring the overall success of the project. Senior members of the Project Team at Durham include Professor Corinne Saunders (English Studies) and Dr Andrew Russell (Anthropology). We are looking for someone who combines excellent administrative skills with a keen interest and engagement in the aims and outcomes of our research.

Working closely with the project Co-Directors, the post-holder will be responsible for managing this ambitious, interdisciplinary project and for helping to develop the local, national and international profile of LoB. The Project Manager’s main responsibilities will include: establishing a working manual for the project team outlining clear working procedures including how to access travel and conference funding, and open access publishing protocols; working with the Bristol Project Manager to coordinate the meetings of the project team; ensuring that the PIs and project team achieve agreed project targets and milestones; liaising with relevant administrators in participating departments to monitor project expenditure and to manage the project budget; ensuring efficient and effective communication ‘internally’ and ‘externally’ with project partners and stakeholders; event management of project meetings, workshops, and conferences; working with the Bristol PM to develop and maintain the project website and optimising the dissemination of information through digital publications and social media; and coordinating the production of reports to funding bodies.

This is a fixed-term Grade 6 0.8 FTE post commencing as soon as possible for 5 years. Days of work to be negotiated but will include Thursday and Friday. Please note that interviews for this post are likely to take place on 7th May 2015.

Applications close March 27 2015. For more information and to apply, please visit the Durham University HR web site. For informal enquiries, please contact: Professor Jane Macnaughton.



Applications are invited for a full-time, fixed term (for three years) Research Associate in Philosophy.

This position is attached to a research project, ‘Evaluating Evidence in Medicine’, funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council and led by Professor Jon Williamson. The project is a collaboration between the University of Kent, University College London, the University of Amsterdam, the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

The Person

You will hold a PhD in Philosophy (successful viva at time of interview) and have a record of international excellence in research and publication.

You will need to demonstrate your excellence in research in philosophy of science and have a record of presenting research papers at national and international conferences.

For full details of the role and person specification please click the link to the job description.