Modelling of muscle protein homeostasis in healthy human ageing

  • Liverpool
  • 26th November 2021

Employer: Liverpool John Moores University

Contract: Full-time/Fixed Term/3 years

Bursary: PhD stipend at Std Research Council rates

Full Description:

Losses in muscle mass and function are key aspects of ageing, which eventually affect all older adults and negatively impact quality-of-life through losses in mobility and independence. In recent years extensive molecular studies have reported differences between the muscle of young vs older adults. However, categorical studies that view ageing as a dichotomy between young and old cannot capture the processes of ageing which occurs along a continuum and may not necessarily align with chronological age. For example, lifestyle factors (e.g. physical activity and dietary habits) and demographic factors (e.g. socioeconomic and geographical healthcare inequalities) are known to modulate ageing processes, and some factors affect females and males to greater or lesser degree. A loss of protein homeostasis (proteostasis) is one of the key hallmarks of cellular ageing and may underpin age-related declines in muscle function. The renewal of proteins through the processes of synthesis and degradation is a fundamental factor affecting protein quality and, therefore, proteostasis. Comprehensive proteomic studies have described widespread differences in the muscle proteome in young versus older humans, laboratory animals and model organisms. Almost without exception, the existing studies report static data on age-related differences in protein abundance only, whereas the dynamic aspects of the muscle proteome, including protein synthesis and degradation remain to be investigated. 

This project aims to uncover demographic influences on age-related changes in muscle proteostasis by developing predictive in silico models from primary data collected from a large cohort of human participants. We will use novel, world-leading multidisciplinary approaches combining demographic, experimental cellular and biological data with computer simulations, to determine, manipulate and model healthy human ageing. If you are the successful applicant, you will be responsible for recruiting a relevant demographic profile of active or sedentary men and women encompassing the adult human lifespan. You will receive training and subsequently collect data on anthropometric (height, weight, body composition) and physiological (walking speed and muscle strength) variables in addition to administering health questionnaires. You will assist in the collection of blood and muscle samples from select participants and you will be responsible for the subsequent molecular analyses, including culturing of muscle stem cells and proteomic analysis of stable isotope-labelled samples to study proteostasis. 

You will apply these data to generate predictive models in silico using machine learning and pattern recognition analyses to bring new insight to the determinants of healthy ageing. This project will be conducted within the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences (RISES) and School of Computer Science and Mathematics which have considerable resources and expertise in human physiology, proteomics and data science. As a post-graduate researcher, you will be primarily accommodated within RISES, which is ranked 1st for Research Quality in Sport & Exercise Sciences and currently employs >60 research-active academic staff, 15 post-doctoral fellows and ~110 postgraduate students (90 PhD, 20 MPhil). 

In addition to monthly supervision meetings, postgraduate students at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) undertake a nationally recognised development programme which aims to enhance the skills required for a successful research experience and career. LJMU also hosts several research events annually, including post-graduate conferences and competitions, which offer prizes and opportunities for further career development. 

Package description 

Only UK citizens can apply for this studentship. Funding will consist of full tuition fees for three years and the award of a living stipend at UK Research Council rates. Funding will be subject to satisfactory progress. LJMU is committed to procedures for the recruitment and admission of students that are fair, explicit and implemented consistently across all faculties. The University seeks to provide equality of opportunity and ensure that no prospective student is treated less favourably on any grounds. The Institute holds a Bronze Athena SWAN award in recognition of on-going commitment to ensuring that the Athena SWAN principles are embedded in its activities and strategic initiatives. Selection judgements made on applicants are based on transparent entry requirements that support the aims and objectives of the University for recruitment, development and retention of students and observe legislation relating to equality, diversity and disability. 

Vacancy website address

Vacancy email address


BASES stands for the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences. BASES is the professional body for sport and exercise sciences in the UK.



Contact us
  • Rooms G07 and G08 Fairfax Hall, Leeds Beckett University, Headingley Campus. Headingley, Leeds LS6 3QT
  • 0113 812 6164