Job offer: ISGlobal International PhD Fellowships Programme in Global Health 2021. 8 PhD scholarships available!

Description

The Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) is a cutting-edge institute addressing global public health challenges through research, translation to policy and education, with a commitment to improve global health and promote health equity.

ISGlobal is the first global public health centre to have received the Severo Ochoa distinction, a seal of excellence of the Spanish Science Ministry.

ISGlobal works toward the promotion of integrative interdisciplinary science and its translation into significant impact. ISGlobal has a broad portfolio in communicable and non-communicable diseases including environmental and climate determinants, and applies a multidisciplinary scientific approach ranging from the molecular to the population level. Research is organized in three main areas: Malaria and other Infectious Diseases; Maternal and Child Health; Urban Health, Climate and Non-Communicable Diseases.

The ISGlobal PhD Programme brings together doctoral candidates from different health fields, and universities, to enjoy the added benefits of developing transdisciplinary research at our Institute.

Thanks to the Severo Ochoa Centre of Excellence Accreditation, in this call we offer up to 8 fellowships for national and international PhD students , who wish to undertake rigorous research training and complete a research project in the field of global health and population studies to make new contributions to the existing knowledge base.

 

Apply now to kick-start your scientific career at ISGlobal!

Select the research proposal/s of your interest from the list of research proposals provided at the end of this call, section “PhD Research Proposals” ( a maximum of 2 proposals can be selected).

Given the interdisciplinarity of the PhD Research Proposals, each PhD student will be jointly supervised by 2 PIs (a Supervisor and a Co-Supervisor).

 

Eligibility Criteria*

  • Candidates can be of any nationality.
  • Candidates must have obtained a University Degree and a Master’s Degree in biomedicine, epidemiology, computer sciences, environmental sciences, biostatistics, or a related discipline within the European Higher Education Area (minimum 300 ECTS, of which at least 60 are at master’s level), or an equivalent University Degree that allows to start a PhD thesis in Spain by the fellowship starting date (please note that each candidate will be assessed for eligibility on individual basis by the corresponding PhD programme following University admission criteria).
  • Candidates must demonstrate academic excellence and a commitment to pursuing a scientific research career with an interest in global health and population studies.
  • Candidates must have good command of English.
  • Candidates already holding a PhD are not eligible.
  • Candidates beneficiary of a PhD Fellowship by the Spanish Government are not eligible.
  • Candidates must not have held a PhD contract exceeding twelve months by the fellowship starting date.

* Please note these criteria might slightly change since they are subject to the Ayudas para contratos predoctorales para la formación de doctores 2021 call from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation.

How to Apply

Applicants must fill in the request form and attach the following documents:

  • Curriculum vitae in English
  • Motivation letter in English (1-page MAX, A4, Arial, size 11, single space), mentioning the number of the selected research proposal (a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 2 proposals can be selected – if 2 proposals are selected, please list them in order of preference) , and the justification for its selection
  • A scan of the student’s academic transcripts (degree and masters), showing grades obtained. If the academic transcripts are not in Catalan, Spanish or English, applicants should also attach a translation in one of the above-mentioned languages.

Please note that all documents must be in pdf format and each submitted document must be named as: CandidateSurname_CandidateName_filetype (e.g. Smith_John_cv, Smith_John_letter). Candidates must ensure that all required information is submitted before the application deadline of 30 Apr 2021. Incomplete proposals will not be considered.

Conditions

  • Number of offered PhD fellowships: 8

I. 4 scholarships associated with the Ayudas para contratos predoctorales para la formación de doctores 2021 call of the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (herein referred to as SO-FPI fellowships)

II. 4 internal fellowships funded through the ISGlobal Severo Ochoa grant (CEX 2018-000806-S)

  • PhD fellowships conditions

Type of Fellowship

SO-FPI fellowships

Internal fellowships

Duration (years)

4

3

Expected remuneration*

(annual gross salary)

Y1 to Y3 – 18.489 €**

Y4 – 21.760 €**

Y1 to Y3 – 18.489 €

Expected starting date

June 2022 ***

September 2021****

Dedication

Full time

Full time

* As per ISGlobal’s salary scale and, in case of the SO-FPI fellowships, according to Ayudas para contratos predoctorales para la formación de doctores call of the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation. Please note that the final salary will be agreed upon candidate’s selection.

The contract is linked to the registration to Social Security, a public system of protection against situations of illness, disability, unemployment, old age, accidents at work, maternity. This also gives access to a public health-care system that offers universal assistance to city residents. All these costs are covered by the employer institution so the candidates do not need to pay for them.

** Please note that this info is based on the Ayudas para contratos predoctorales para la formación de doctores 2020 call, therefore it might slightly change

*** Selected candidates might be hired before the fellowship starts, if agreed with the corresponding Supervisor and Co-Supervisor once the candidate has been selected

**** The exact date will be negotiated with the corresponding Supervisor and Co-Supervisor once the candidate has been selected. Incorporation date cannot be later than 1-Jan-2022.

Selection Process and Selection Criteria

All applications are reviewed by an ad hoc Internal Committee.

Candidates are selected on the basis of academic excellence, performance in research, adequacy of candidate’s experience to the selected research proposal, and a commitment to pursuing a scientific research career with an interest in global health and population studies . A good command of English is requested.

Short-listed candidates will be invited for a TC interview.

Selected candidates will be notified shortly after the interview period.

Applicants who have not been successful but have received a positive evaluation

will be put on a waiting list to cover possible renunciations and for future positions.

Key Dates

Call opening: 30 March 2021

Call deadline: 30 April 2021. 17.00 CEST.

Notification to candidates: 31 May - 15 June 2021

PhD Research Proposals

Please find the list of PhD research proposals below. A minimum of 1 and a maximum of 2 proposals can be selected . When applying, don't forget to mention the correct proposal number in your cover letter (if 2 proposals are selected, please list them in order of preference) .

Should you wish to know more about a research proposal, you can contact the corresponding Supervisor/Co-Supervisor.

1. Exposure to high temperatures in outdoor workers: influence on cognition, fatigue and cardiovascular and kidney diseases

Supervisor: Xavier Basagaña ( xavier.basagana@isglobal.org )

Co-Supervisor: Cristina O’Callaghan-Gordo ( cristina.ocallaghan@isglobal.org )

Research project description: Extreme heat represents a health risk for outdoor workers. This thesis will use data from two studies that enrolled outdoor workers and collected temperature data along with different physiological and psychological factors. The main aims are: 1) to describe the temperatures at which outdoor workers are actually exposed to and the patterns of hydration, physical activity and rest; 2) to study whether the environmental and occupational conditions to which agricultural workers are exposed suppose a risk for developing acute kidney injury; 3) to explore the associations between heat exposure and heart rate variability, cognitive function, fatigue and sleep quality.

Related links:

https://www.isglobal.org/en/our-team/-/profiles/18513

https://www.isglobal.org/en/our-team/-/profiles/18613

https://www.isglobal.org/en/-/lerags

 

2. Machine learning for the prediction of lung maturity based on ultrasound imaging and identification of early determinants of respiratory morbidity

Supervisor: Maribel Casas ( maribel.casas@isglobal.org)

Co-Supervisor: Paula Petrone ( paula.petrone@isglobal.org)

Research project description: Impaired development of the respiratory system in early life predispose individuals to respiratory morbidity later in life. Our aim is to evaluate fetal lung development using machine learning and image analysis techniques and identify early life determinants of respiratory morbidity. We will use data from the Barcelona Life Study Cohort Cohort (BiSC) with data on fetal ultrasound imaging and information on maternal socioeconomic, dietary, and environmental determinants. We will use a non-invasive technique based on quantitative texture analysis of fetal lung ultrasound to evaluate lung maturity. This project will contribute to in-depth scientific understanding of fetal lung development and the early life determinants of respiratory health.

Related links:

https://www.isglobal.org/our-team/-/profiles/18581

https://www.isglobal.org/our-team/-/profiles/27001

 

3. Using weather forecasts as early warning signals to predict critical shifts in behavioral and health outcomes

Supervisor: Guillaume Chevance ( guillaume.chevance@isglobal.org )

Co-Supervisor: Joan Ballester ( joan.ballester@isglobal.org )

Research project description: Weather-related variables (e.g., temperature, humidity) are strong determinants of health outcomes such as physical activity and sleep behaviors, mental health and cardiorespiratory outcomes. This proposal aims at determine whether we can predict the occurrence of critical fluctuations in those health outcomes by building early warning signal systems informed by weather forecasts. This proposal will also explore the role of inter-individual differences and vulnerability factors (e.g., age) in the accuracy of that predictions. Both existing and newly collected time series of the daily fluctuations in weather, behaviors and health will be used to build and test the early warning signal systems.

Related links:

https://www.isglobal.org/en/our-team/-/profiles/26201

https://www.isglobal.org/en/our-team/-/profiles/15002

http://www.joanballester.eu/early-adapt.html

https://heathealth.eu/

 

4. Exposure to greenspace and pre- and postnatal neurodevelopment (GreenBrain)

Supervisor: Payam Dadvand ( payam.dadvand@isglobal.org)

Co-Supervisor: Paula Petrone ( paula.petrone@isglobal.org)

Research project description: This PhD thesis aims to implement advanced data science and visualization techniques to study, for the first time, the association of prenatal exposure to greenspace and prenatal and postnatal neurodevelopment, exploring the contribution of placental function, noise, and air pollution. It will be nested in a state-of-the-art birth cohort, BiSC, with data on greenspace exposure indicators (visual access/surrounding/proximity to/use of green spaces at home/workplace) and prenatal (ultrasound characterization of fetal brain) and neonatal brain MRI and repeated neuropsychological tests) indicators of neurodevelopment. This thesis could provide important evidence to boost brain development in our rapidly urbanizing world.

Related links:

https://www.isglobal.org/faculty/-/profiles/18619

https://www.isglobal.org/our-team/-/profiles/27001

https://www.projectebisc.org/en/bisc-project/

 

5. Plasmodium vivax : molecular and clinical studies of anemia and splenomegaly as mediated by exosomes

Supervisor: Hernando del Portillo ( hernandoa.delportillo@isglobal.org )

Co-Supervisor: Natalia Rakislova ( natalia.rakislova@isglobal.org )

Research project description: Anaemia is a major clinical syndrome in P. vivax malaria and its association with splenomegaly suggested in few studies. Exosomes are extracellular vesicles of endocytic origin originally described in reticulocytes, the host cell of P. vivax. We hypothesize that circulating exosomes from P. vivax patients induce defects in bone marrow erythropoiesis favouring the formation of intrasplenic infections. We will test this hypothesis using proteomics, transcriptomics, cytopathology and flow cytometry approaches, as well as using minimally invasive autopsy in cases of malaria-related deaths. These studies will be conducted in Ethiopia, an African Country where P. vivax is a major species.

Related links:

https://www.isglobal.org/our-team/-/profiles/11800

https://www.isglobal.org/en/our-team/-/profiles/22818

 

6. Use of extracellular vesicles as a tool for the identification of new biomarkers in two parasitic infectious diseases: Malaria and Chagas

Supervisor: Carmen Fernandez ( carmen.fernandez@isglobal.org )

Co-Supervisor: Maria Jesus Pinazo ( mariajesus.pinazo@isglobal.org )

Research project description: Extracellular vesicles (EVs), are small cell-derived vesicles present in most biological fluids. They are released from many cell types, including some microorganisms, such as Plasmodium and Trypanosomatids. EVs contain molecular signatures, such as proteins and nucleic acids that are selectively packaged. For these reasons, there is great potential for the use of EVs as new-biomarkers in human diseases.

We hypothesize that the molecular characterization of EVs from Plasmodium parasites will discover new antigens in the context of malaria elimination. Moreover, EVs-derived from chronic Chagas disease patients would be excellent candidates to identify new biomarkers of therapeutic response and disease prognosis.

Related links:

https://www.isglobal.org/en/our-team/-/profiles/2100

https://www.isglobal.org/en/our-team/-/profiles/5200

 

7. Aptamer-based inhibition of vesicle trafficking as a new therapeutic strategy against malaria and pathogenic bacteria

Supervisor: Xavier Fernandez ( xavier.fernandez@isglobal.org )

Co-Supervisor: Sara Soto ( sara.soto@isglobal.org)

Research project description: Taking advantage of the low amino acid sequence conservation between Plasmodium, bacterial, and human endosomal sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT) proteins, the main goal of this PhD thesis will be to develop different strategies to specifically target and block the action of ESCRT proteins from Plasmodium and pathogenic-resistant bacteria. For this purpose, the student will use as main approach the generation of DNA aptamer-based inhibitors of ESCRT proteins. For improved delivery, these molecules will be encapsulated in targeted nanocarriers whose kinetics, mechanism, and destination can be modulated by varying size, shape and targeting valency, combining binding to several receptors.

Related links:

https://www.isglobal.org/our-team/-/profiles/2200

https://www.isglobal.org/our-team/-/profiles/2900

 

8. Early tailored prediction of respiratory symptoms evolution through digital technologies

Supervisor: Judith Garcia-Aymerich ( judith.garcia@isglobal.org)

Co-Supervisor: Guillaume Chevance ( guillaume.chevance@isglobal.org )

Research project description: Using wearables, this project aims at building person-specific models of the temporal dynamic of symptoms in patients with respiratory diseases and, based on these models, identify tailored early warning signals of symptoms aggravation. This proposal will articulate (i) a phase of co-design using a patient centered-approach to identify a battery of measures reflecting concrete pieces of every-day life experiences; (ii) a monitoring phase where patients will be asked to continuously wear several devices; (iii) a post-monitoring phase where person-specific statistical models will be conducted to identify, separately for each patient, which variables are central to their disease management.

Related links:

https://www.isglobal.org/en/our-team/-/profiles/18559

https://www.isglobal.org/en/our-team/-/profiles/26201

 

9. Early environmental exposures and infant’s immunity and microbiota development

Supervisor: Mireia Gascon ( mireia.gascon@isglobal.org)

Co-Supervisor: Gemma Moncunill ( gemma.moncunill@isglobal.org )

Research project description: Within the Child and Environment program, a new line of research on environmental exposures and trajectories of child immunity (humoral and cellular) and gut microbiota is being developed. The PhD student will work on existing and prospective longitudinal data from European birth cohorts [e.g. BiSC], with the aim to explore how pre and post-natal environmental exposures impact the development of the immune system and the interaction with the gut microbiome during the first years of life, and how this might increase the susceptibility to infections and the risk of developing immune related diseases (e.g. allergies) later in life.

Related links:

https://www.isglobal.org/our-team/-/profiles/7402

https://www.isglobal.org/researchers/-/profiles/8600

https://www.projectebisc.org/en/home/

https://www.isglobal.org/en/-/salud-infantil

 

10. Implementing data science to predict risk and resilience to mental health disorders: analysis of genomics, biological and exposomics data of a longitudinal study of 15,000 participants (the COVICAT-CONTENT cohort)

Supervisor: Ximena Goldberg ( ximena.goldberg@isglobal.org )

Co-Supervisor: Paula Petrone ( paula.petrone@isglobal.org)

Research project description: The COVICAT-CONTENT cohort is a large population-based sample of 15,000 participants aged 20 to 90 years old sourced from pre-pandemic studies and followed-up immediately after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, and again in 2021. The information collected provides a comprehensive range of genomic-wide and environment-wide components, each of them with a proven but limited effect on mental health. Using a data science approach, we will be able to identify key combinatory mechanisms with higher predictive values than each risk factor taken individually. Our project has powerful implications for recommendations to public policies and future lines of research.

Related links:

https://www.isglobal.org/en/our-team/-/profiles/26101

https://www.isglobal.org/en/our-team/-/profiles/27001

https://www.isglobal.org/en/-/covicat

https://www.isglobal.org/en/-/content

 

11. Development of new statistical models for longitudinal exposome studies and their implementation in federated systems.

Supervisor: Juan Ramon Gonzalez ( juanr.gonzalez@isglobal.org )

Co-Supervisor: Xavier Basagaña ( xavier.basagana@isglobal.org )

Research project description: The exposome is a set of all the exposures of an individual in a lifetime. Exposome-health studies assess how those exposures relate to health. Linking the exposome to health is complex due to several factors, including the fact that it is high-dimensional and many of the exposures are correlated. The initial exposome studies have focused on cross-sectional studies. Longitudinal exposome studies introduce further complexity. The objective of this PhD is to develop statistical methods for longitudinal exposome studies and to implement them in software to conduct non-disclosive federated data analysis as part of the WP3 of the H2020 ATHLETE project.

Related links:

https://www.isglobal.org/our-team/-/profiles/18510

https://www.isglobal.org/en/our-team/-/profiles/18513

https://athleteproject.eu/

 

12. Exploring GPI-anchor biosynthesis and related pathways for drug target discovery against malaria and Chagas disease

Supervisor: Luis Izquierdo ( luis.izquierdo@isglobal.org )

Co-Supervisor: Julio Padilla ( julio.a.padilla@isglobal.org )

Research project description: Recent upsurge of resistance to first-line malaria treatments and the scarcity of drugs for Chagas disease, showcase the dire need of therapies against diseases that affect the most vulnerable populations around the world. New drug targets are urgently needed to design new compounds against Plasmodium falciparum and Trypanosoma cruzi, causal agents of malaria and Chagas, respectively. These parasites rely on surface glycoconjugates, such as glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchors, for protection and to interact with their environment. We will apply CRISPR-Cas9-based engineering to functionally explore the GPI biosynthetic pathways in these organisms, to identify and characterize enzymatic steps essential for parasite survival.

Related links:

https://www.isglobal.org/en/researchers/-/profiles/2400

https://www.isglobal.org/our-team/-/profiles/11902#

 

13. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on health services in Spain and abroad and how to ensure resilient health systems

Supervisor: Jeffrey Lazarus ( jeffrey.lazarus@isglobal.org )

Co-Supervisor: Davide Rasella ( davide.rasella@isglobal.org )

Research project description: This project adapts the COVID-SCORE tool, validated in Europe and sub-Saharan Africa to measure perceptions of government responses and patient perceptions of COVID-19-related disruptions in service delivery. Such changes included reduced care, modified hours and telehealth, though were not always designed or implemented with patient considerations in mind. A resilient health system continues to be responsive to the population. As such, the researcher will, in selected countries:

  • Identify changes for primary care delivery over 2020-2021;
  • Evaluate patient-reported perception and utilisation of service changes (2021-2022); and
  • Design (2021-2022) and pilot (2022-2024) intervention in cooperation with community partners and providers.

Related links:

https://www.isglobal.org/en/our-team/-/profiles/12802

https://www.isglobal.org/our-team/-/profiles/25401

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-020-1124-9

 

14. Anticipating and preventing short- and long-term adverse outcomes in the biggest killers of children (malaria, Pneumonia and HIV/TB)

Supervisor: Elisa Lopez ( elisa.lopez@isglobal.org)

Co-Supervisor: Quique Bassat ( quique.bassat@isglobal.org)

Research project description: In low-income settings, malaria, pneumonia, HIV and tuberculosis are preventable and treatable diseases that remain associated with an unacceptable morbimortality in children. The field of prognostic biomarkers for risk-stratification is evolving rapidly, but this innovative science needs to demonstrate that it can trigger changes in policy and improvements in short and long-term outcomes, including their capacity to anticipate the emergence of long-term sequelae (neurological, respiratory). By bridging the programs of malaria, and viral/bacterial infections, we will conduct different studies aimed at decreasing child mortality and ensuring that children not only survive but also thrive and reach their full human potential.

Related links:

https://www.isglobal.org/en/our-team/-/profiles/17000

https://www.isglobal.org/en/our-team/-/profiles/1900

 

15. Harnessing the malaria genome for control and elimination

Supervisor: Alfredo Mayor ( alfredo.mayor@isglobal.org)

Co-Supervisor: Paula Petrone ( paula.petrone@isglobal.org)

Research project description: Large-scale programs which quickly reduce the malaria parasite biomass can exert strong selection pressures on the parasite population. Our preliminary data in southern Mozambique suggest that the drastic declines in P. falciparum transmission achieved through an elimination program are associated with reductions in parasite genetic diversity and increases in gametocyte carriage, therefore supporting the concept that the parasite can modulate sexual investment to maximize its within-host competitive ability. In this project we will combine genomics, machine learning and artificial intelligence to identify genetic sequences in malaria parasites molded by evolutionary pressures that can be exploited to advance the goal of malaria eradication.

Related links:

https://www.isglobal.org/our-team/-/profiles/3300

https://www.isglobal.org/our-team/-/profiles/27001

https://www.isglobal.org/ca/-/genmoz

 

16. Malaria molecular approaches to help implementing effective interventions: the case of intermittent preventive treatment of malaria in infancy

Supervisor: Clara Menendez ( clara.menendez@isglobal.org )

Co-Supervisor: Alfredo Mayor ( alfredo.mayor@isglobal.org)

Research project description: Children under 5 years of age are at high risk of malaria infection and death. Intermittent preventive treatment of malaria in infants (IPTi), consisting of the administration of sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine to infants, is a safe and cost-effective intervention in reducing malaria. Despite WHO recommendations, IPTi is not implemented in most of African malaria endemic countries due to several factors, including the fear of poor efficacy due to antimalarial resistance. Here we want to assess the impact of IPTi on the development of antimalarial resistance and the use of molecular data to assess the impact of the intervention on malaria transmission.

Related links:

https://www.isglobal.org/our-team/-/profiles/7400

https://www.isglobal.org/our-team/-/profiles/3300

https://www.isglobal.org/-/icaria

 

17. Systems Serology and Data Science: mechanisms of infection and vaccine-induced immune responses

Supervisor: Gemma Moncunill ( gemma.moncunill@isglobal.org )

Co-Supervisor: Paula Petrone ( paula.petrone@isglobal.org)

Research project description: Immune responses to infections and vaccines are highly variable between individuals and the underlying mechanisms of such heterogeneity and protective responses are unknown. Development of data analytics platforms is needed to investigate the responses at baseline and elicited by vaccination and infections and identify predictors of protection. Comprehensive antibody data generated during the study in Mozambican and European cohorts of adults and children exposed to different pathogens such as P.falciparum, Helminths or COVID-19 will be analyzed leveraging this analytics platform based on machine learning approaches and data visualization techniques to understand and predict who will be protected or benefit from vaccines.

Related links:

https://www.isglobal.org/researchers/-/profiles/8600

https://www.isglobal.org/en/our-team/-/profiles/27001

 

18. Personalized travel risk assessment and targeted malaria chemoprophylaxis to improve travel safety

Supervisor: Jose Muñoz ( jose.munoz@isglobal.org)

Co-Supervisor: Paula Petrone ( paula.petrone@isglobal.org)

Research project description: This project aims to develop a data analytics platform to personalize travel risk assessment and to adapt current malaria chemoprophylaxis strategies to target those travelers most-at-risk. We will leverage multidimensional data acquired from ~15000 travelers from the Hospital Clinic in addition to regional information (e.g. climate, pollution) and machine learning techniques that include natural language processing of medical history records to prevent travel-related diseases and associated severity outcomes. The impact of this project resides in the development of an innovative travel risk assessment program to increase the impact of preventive strategies and decrease the morbidity associated with international travel.

Related links:

https://www.isglobal.org/our-team/-/profiles/2500

https://www.isglobal.org/our-team/-/profiles/27001

 

19. Air pollution and child health; using innovative exposure assessment methods to improve the understanding of early biological (omics) responses and child respiratory and cardiometabolic health

Supervisor: Mark Nieuwenhuijsen ( mark.nieuwenhuijsen@isglobal.org )

Co-Supervisor: Martine Vrijheid ( martine.vrijheid@isglobal.org )

Research project description: The aim is to analyse the relationship between novel estimates of air pollution (e.g. home, travel, school, inhaled dose), biological OMICs responses and child respiratory and cardiometabolic health. The work will be based on existing databases of EC funded projects HELIX and ATHLETE.

Related links:

https://www.isglobal.org/our-team/-/profiles/18505

https://www.isglobal.org/our-team/-/profiles/18514

http://www.projecthelix.eu/

https://athleteproject.eu/

 

20. Machine learning techniques to predict treatment success in the management of chronic respiratory conditions

Supervisor: Paula Petrone ( paula.petrone@isglobal.org)

Co-Supervisor: Judith Garcia ( judith.garcia@isglobal.org)

Research project description: By integrating primary care and hospital data with climate and social environmental determinants and epidemiological studies, we will understand and predict the success of therapies in patients with chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). We will develop and use data science techniques and machine learning to model longitudinal disease trajectories and outcomes (e.g., exacerbations and hospitalizations), to better understand the benefit from drug and non-drug therapies, including behavioral interventions towards healthier lifestyle.This project will both help the physician plan personalised care provision and aid in drug development and clinical trials for chronic respiratory conditions.

Related links:

https://www.isglobal.org/our-team/-/profiles/27001

https://www.isglobal.org/faculty/-/profiles/18559

 

21. Using machine learning and data analytics to find clinical prognostic markers in Chagas disease

Supervisor: Maria Jesus Pinazo ( mariajesus.pinazo@isglobal.org )

Co-Supervisor: Paula Petrone ( paula.petrone@isglobal.org)

Research project description: This PhD program aims at using electronic medical records of patients affected by Chagas disease in order to aggregate large numbers of indicators using computational tools and natural language processing, to reveal prognostic markers that would allow for better clinical characterization. Identifying clinical characters through the clustering of patients’ data could help tailor the indication of treatment for patients with a higher probability of response, and steer resources to patients with a higher probability of progression. This research could foster a paradigm shift in Chagas disease, especially in resource limited settings, and, eventually, the development of new protocols and policies.

Related links:

https://www.isglobal.org/our-team/-/profiles/5200

https://www.isglobal.org/our-team/-/profiles/27001

 

22. Impact of the global economic recession due to COVID-19 on premature mortality in Low and Middle-Income Countries: from the evaluation to the forecasting of resilience strategies

Supervisor: Davide Rasella ( davide.rasella@isglobal.org )

Co-Supervisor: Denise Naniche ( denise.naniche@isglobal.org )

Research project description: The global economic recession due to COVID-19 pandemic is causing an unprecedented increase in poverty rates worldwide. One billion individuals are expected to fall into poverty, causing millions of avoidable deaths in Low and Middle-Income Countries (LMIC). The PhD student will evaluate country-specific trends in mortality in LMIC and their associations with the worsening of the social determinants of health. He/she will develop forecasting models to identify the most effective mitigation strategies for each crisis scenario. A data-visualization platform will be created to assess which areas will suffer the strongest impact and where poverty-relief policies should be implemented or strengthened.

Related links:

https://www.isglobal.org/our-team/-/profiles/25401

https://www.isglobal.org/our-team/-/profiles/2600

 

23. Socio-economic aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic in Spain: generating evidence from nationwide cohorts on the “health or wealth” paradigm

Supervisor: Elisa Sicuri ( elisa.sicuri@isglobal.org)

Co-Supervisor: Davide Rasella ( davide.rasella@isglobal.org )

Research project description: An intuition has been consolidating since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, suggesting the we can enhance either health or wealth, but not the two at a time. While the absence of a trade-off between health and wealth has been widely shown, there is not enough evidence, yet, in the context of the current pandemic. This project will disentangle the complex relationship between “health and wealth” by employing longitudinal data generated from several cohorts across Spain from a sample of over 20,000 invididuals. Among selected objectives, the project will employ quasi-experimental approaches to identify and measure the contribution of the pandemic to socio-economic indicators.

Related links:

https://www.isglobal.org/our-team/-/profiles/8700

https://www.isglobal.org/our-team/-/profiles/25401

 

24. Quality of Life and mental health in pediatric cardiac patients after treatment with image guided procedures: the role of environmental enrichment

Supervisor: Isabelle Thierry-Chef ( Isabelle.thierrychef@isglobal.org )

Co-Supervisor: Ximena Goldberg ( ximena.goldberg@isglobal.org )

Research project description: Children born with cardiac defects are often diagnosed and treated very early in life through X-ray guided imaging procedures, allowing relatively non-invasive treatment of many congenital and acquired heart diseases.

In the context of a wider evaluation of long-term health outcomes considering potential late effects of exposure to ionizing radiation, the project specifically aims at evaluating quality of life and mental health of these pediatric patients and their parents recruited retrospectively but also prospectively for direct implementation of supportive actions.

The proposed project will be developed in parallel to the ongoing HARMONIC project on pediatric medical exposure to radiation, with potential development at the European level.

Related links:

https://www.isglobal.org/en/our-team/-/profiles/17806

https://www.isglobal.org/en/our-team/-/profiles/26101

https://harmonicproject.eu/

 

25. Exposome Project for Health and Occupational Research - Mega Cohort

Supervisor: Michelle Turner ( michelle.turner@isglobal.org )

Co-Supervisor: Maribel Casas ( maribel.cases@isglobal.org)

Research project description: EPHOR (Exposome Project for Health and Occupational Research) seeks to provide new evidence of the impact of occupational exposures on the risk of major NCDs, through both systematic and agnostic analyses of occupational exposures across the life-course, including creating an EPHOR multimillion cohort, based on large-scale pooling of existing European cohorts with data on occupational exposures, and advancing knowledge on rare health effects, interactions with general life exposures, and identifying vulnerable subpopulations. Complementary work on relationships between employment and health among working parents taking advantage of the wealth of information already collected in European birth cohorts will also be performed.

Related links:

https://www.isglobal.org/en/our-team/-/profiles/18642

https://www.isglobal.org/our-team/-/profiles/18581

https://www.ephor-project.eu/

 

26. Disentangling the role of air in the dissemination of antimicrobial resistance

Supervisor: Jordi Vila ( jordi.vila@isglobal.org)

Co-Supervisor: Xavier Rodó ( xavier.rodo@isglobal.org)

Research project description: The student will work in several pilot studies currently being conducted between the Antimicrobial resistance group (PI: Jordi Vila), within the “Viral and Bacterial Infections Programme”, and the “Climate & Health Programme” (PI: Xavier Rodó) also part of the “Exposome Hub”, promoted by Severo Ochoa Programme.

He/she will participate in investigating air composition in hospitals, rural and urban settings in terms of microbial load, resistance characterization and relevant air pollutants. He/she will carry out microbiological techniques (culture, antimicrobial susceptibility methods), next-generation sequencing methods and air quality monitoring. Main objective: investigate the role of air as reservoir and vehicle of resistance.

Related links:

https://www.isglobal.org/our-team/-/profiles/12300

https://www.isglobal.org/our-team/-/profiles/15001

 

27. Using multi-omics data to study biological pathways linking the exposome with health during early life

Supervisor: Martine Vrijheid ( martine.vrijheid@isglobal.org )

Co-Supervisor: Paula Petrone ( paula.petrone@isglobal.org)

Research project description: Early life (pregnancy, childhood) presents both critical periods of vulnerability to environmental hazards and important windows of opportunity for prediction and prevention of later disease. This project will use multi-omics data collected in high profile European exposome projects to identify key molecular events and biological pathways in early life that link environmental exposures with adverse health. A particular focus will be on cross-omics data integration methods, including machine learning. The candidate will be part of a highly stimulating and supportive environment, linking the Childhood and Environment programme and Data Science group of ISGlobal, and with strong links to international networks.

Related links:

https://www.isglobal.org/en/our-team/-/profiles/18514

https://www.isglobal.org/en/our-team/-/profiles/27001

https://athleteproject.eu/

https://www.projecthelix.eu/