The effect of COVID-19 on lower urinary tract function


An exciting opportunity to apply for a fully funded PhD position in the College of Health, Science and Society.

Ref: 2324-OCT-HSS08

The expected start date of these studentships is 1 October 2023.

The closing date for applications is 7 July 2023.

Studentship details

This studentship 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.

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:

  1. Review existing literature to establish the developing evidence base and capture progress as this novel area continues to emerge.
  2. Self-report surveys to:
    1. extend follow-up of the existing cohort of participants in the CoV-LUTS study
    2. recruit a larger sample of prospective participants to investigate further symptomatic associations.
  3. Conduct laboratory investigations to identify urinary inflammatory markers associated with LUTS and COVID-19 infection.

The studentship will be based within the Centre for Health and Clinical Research, 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 system wide 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 for those wishing to maintain their professional skills.

For an informal discussion about the studentship, please email Dr Nikki Cotterill at


The studentship is available from 1 October 2023 for a period of three and half years, subject to satisfactory progress and includes a tax exempt stipend, which is currently £18,622 per annum.

In addition, full-time tuition fees will be covered for up to three years.


  • 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 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 Bristol modules.
  • A comprehensive programme of support is also provided at UWE Bristol for postgraduate researchers in preparation for future research careers.
  • Overseas applicants are invited to apply.
  • The applicant will be primarily based at Frenchay campus, Bristol. Travel will be required according to the requirements of the project.
  • A recognised English language qualification is required.

How to apply

Please submit your application online. When prompted use the reference number 2324-OCT-HSS08.

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

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 will be asked for a reference at 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 07 July 2023.

Further information

It is expected that interviews will take place in the week commencing 24 July 2023. If you have not heard from us by 17 July 2023, we thank you for your application but on this occasion you have not been successful.

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