Lower urinary tract dysfunction with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection (CoV-LUTS+)


An opportunity to apply for a funded full-time PhD in the Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences, UWE Bristol. 

The studentship, funded by UWE Bristol, will focus on lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS; comprising urinary urgency, frequency and nocturia) associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection. In particular, their trajectory and impact will be measured, through identifying symptomatic and biomarker associations. This study will follow a current, initial symptom survey study that is comparing LUTS between those with and without recent COVID-19 infection

The expected start date of this studentship is 1 January 2023.

The closing date for applications is 19 August 2022.

Ref: 2223-JAN-HAS06 

Please note: out of the eight projects being advertised for the Dean’s Studentship, the faculty will fund four. The projects for funding will be selected based on the merit of applicants following the process outlined below.

There will be a two stage interview process. Supervisory teams of each project will shortlist the best candidates for an initial interview with the supervisory team. Following this first interview, two candidates will be selected; a first-choice candidate and a reserve candidate. The first-choice candidate (or the reserve, if the first-choice candidate is unavailable) will then be interviewed by a Faculty Panel (the second interview). The Faculty Panel will be chaired by Pro-Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean and will consist of senior Faculty staff. The Faculty level interview will take place on the 31 October 2022.

Unsuccessful candidates will have the opportunity for self-funded places.

Studentship details

The studentship is based within the Centre for Health and Clinical Research at UWE Bristol, which hosts a broad programme of research to benefit the health and wellbeing of individuals and society.

The PhD is part of a research programme led by Professor of Continence Care, Dr Nikki Cotterill, with the aim to improve continence care and quality of life for individuals with bladder and bowel symptoms. This PhD will also be supervised by Dr Bahareh Vahabi who has extensive experience in biological research associated with LUT Dysfunction. The PhD will also contribute to a city-wide initiative, the BABCON (Bladder and Bowel CONfidence Health Integration Team. This is a systemwide approach to tackle continence difficulties through research, education and implementation. It is recognised that this opportunity is likely to attract clinical colleagues who may wish to continue to work clinically during the studentship.

A maximum of one day per week working in a clinical role is permitted whilst undertaking a full time PhD at UWE Bristol.

The Project

Emerging evidence suggests there is an increased risk of LUTS associated with COVID-19 infection.  The supervisory team are currently conducting an initial CoV-LUTS study at North Bristol NHS Trust to assess LUTS associated with COVID-19.  Further prospective studies are required to: i) understand the short and long-term effects of COVID-19 on LUT function; ii) fully understand such poorly recognised implications of COVID-19 infection to inform care provision; iii) promote an accurate description of the symptom complex associated with COVID-19; and iv) assess this impact of Long- COVID-19 on patient’s quality of life. 

Objectives and methodology

The objective is to advance our understanding of LUTS associated with COVID-19 infection to provide an essential background for future investigative studies into its viral biology, through three components.

Review existing literature to establish the developing evidence base and capture progress as this novel area continues to emerge. 

Self-report surveys to:

  • extend follow-up of the existing cohort of participants in the CoV-LUTS study
  • recruit a larger sample of prospective participants to investigate further symptomatic associations
  • conduct laboratory investigations to identify urinary inflammatory markers associated with LUTS and COVID-19 infection.


This is a Dean’s PhD studentship and is funded for a period of three years, subject to satisfactory progress and includes a tax-exempt stipend, which is currently £16,602 per annum.

In addition, full-time tuition fees will be covered for up to three years. The studentship will also fully cover the research costs (consumables budget).


Applications are invited from ambitious, self-motivated and enthusiastic candidates, with a background in a biomedical related discipline.

Applicants must have a Masters qualification, or a First-Class or 2:1 Class undergraduate degree in an appropriately related discipline.

Experience in working in a microbiology/molecular biology laboratory is desirable but developmental training will be included during the PhD through available UWE modules. A comprehensive programme of support is also provided at UWE Bristol for postgraduate researchers in preparation for future research careers.

The applicant will be primarily based at Frenchay campus, Bristol. Travel will be required according to the requirements of the project.

This opportunity is available to UK and Overseas applicants who meet the eligibility criteria. A recognised English language qualification is required.

For an informal discussion about the studentship, please email Dr. Nikki Cotterill at nikki.cotterill@uwe.ac.uk or Bahareh Vahabi at bahareh.vahabi@uwe.ac.uk.

How to apply

Please submit your application online. When prompted use the reference number 2223-JAN-HAS06.

Supporting documentation: you will need to upload your degree certificates and transcripts and if required, your proof of English language proficiency as attachments to your application so please have these available when you complete the application form.

Research proposal: please explain, in no more than 500 words, how your skill-set and experience could contribute to the CoV-LUTS+ project.

References: you will need to provide details of two referees as part of your application. At least one referee must be an academic referee from the institution that conferred your highest degree. Your referee may be asked for a reference from the time you submit your application, so please ensure that your nominated referees are willing and able to provide references within 14 days of your application being submitted.

Closing Date

The closing date for applications is 19 August 2022.

Further information

Please note that the following selection process applies.

Interviews by the prospective supervisory team will take place in the week commencing 12 September 2022. If you have not heard from us by that date, we thank you for your application but on this occasion you have not been successful.

Following the initial interview, two candidates will be selected; a first-choice candidate and a reserve candidate. The first-choice candidate (or the reserve, if the first-choice candidate is unavailable) will then undertake a second interview by a senior faculty panel on the 31 October 2022. The PhD will be awarded following a successful second interview.

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