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PhD studentship: Acquired brain injury in childhood

PhD Studentship: University of Nottingham, Eveline Walker Legacy, NIHR ARC East Midlands and NIHR Nottingham BRC funded PhD Studentship (2024)

Understanding prevalence and health resource impact of Acquired Brain injury in Childhood: A data linkage utility and feasibility study [ABC-Link study]

The University of Nottingham in partnership with the Eveline Walker Legacy, NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) East Midlands, and the NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre seeks to appoint a PhD student for an innovative data science project carried out in partnership with health professionals and people with lived experience of Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) during childhood. The project will use local and national data linked across primary and secondary care to advance understanding of the prevalence and healthcare pathways and resource impact of ABI in childhood.

Overview of planned research Every year in the UK, around 40,000 children and young people (CYP) experience acquired brain injury (ABI) as a result of trauma, stroke, infection, inflammation, hypoxia or tumours, and about a quarter are moderate or severe injuries (NHS England, 2013). The impacts of ABI can include physical, emotional or behavioural impairments. They can affect further brain and learning development and may have both immediate and life-long impacts on health-related quality of life, educational achievement and social inclusion. Implications include considerable burden for immediate and extended families and extended interactions with health and social care professionals.

Current evidence for our understand of childhood ABI is limited to certain types of ABI so we are lacking reliable information on how many children are living with ABI related disability in the UK to inform service planning. There is no national register of CYP with ABI, which makes it difficult to monitor their longer-term health. Evidence suggests that the poor understanding of diagnosis and follow-up pathways contributes to high morbidity, with lasting impacts on health and social care resource use and CYP and families’ mental health.

To address this evidence gap, the PhD will be the first study to use national-level administrative UK health data linked across multiple sources to:

  • Develop a better understanding of the burden of ABI in CYP
  • Establish the extent to which different childhood ABI types and severity can be distinguished
  • Estimate healthcare utilisation or potential rehabilitation/support needs of CYP with ABI
  • Describe clinical characteristics other clinical conditions of children experiencing ABI before and after injury
  • Provide a comprehensive picture of healthcare pathways to best inform opportunities for rehabilitation

The PhD student will be enthusiastic about undertaking a data science project and will need some previous experience of data use in the area of health, epidemiology, statistics, or data science; alternatively, candidates with a clinical background are invited to acquire data use experience. Experience in the area of paediatrics or brain injuries, whether clinical or non-clinical would be valuable, however, is not a requirement for the PhD. The student will be embedded in the support and training network of the NIHR ARC-EM, NIHR Nottingham BRC and HDR-UK Midlands. The student will work in partnership with regional healthcare professionals working in childhood ABI as well as young people who have experienced ABI and their families. This partnership will be in co-development of the research design as well as the communication of the findings and decisions on next steps to advance understanding of childhood ABI. This study is the first step to addressing critical evidence gaps regarding the characteristics and care pathways of CYP with ABI. It will have utility for policy makers, commissioners and service leads to inform clinical transformation.


Each studentship comes with a yearly stipend at current RCUK rates £19,237 plus Home/EU tuition fees £4,786. Full time (3 years) or part time study (up to 6 years, pro rata funding) is possible. Applicants would also be encouraged to maintain clinical activity.

Applying for the PhDs
Applicants should have a 2.1 or higher Honours degree in a relevant discipline, a good knowledge of healthcare and an interest in applied, healthcare improvement research; Applicants with a Masters degree are especially welcomed to apply; Home/EU candidates only due to funding restrictions; Available from July - October 2024 for three years (full time study) or up to six years (if part time study).

To apply, applicants should send the following information to

  • A personal statement (maximum 1000 words) demonstrating how your experience to date prepares you to undertake this PhD [this would depend on the criteria having been made explicit in the advert] 
  • A current CV (2 pages maximum);
  • 2 full references – not contact details (references can be sent separately, directly to, if wished);
  • PDF Copies of your degree certificates and transcripts, and if appropriate, professional registration details;
  • Evidence of English Language proficiency (IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any element, or equivalent) if your first language is not English;

For more information or informal enquiries, please contact Prof. Kate Radford:

Please quote ref: University of Nottingham/ Eveline Walker Legacy/NIHR ARC-EM/BRC PhD Studentship (2024).

Closing date: 23.59pm (BST) on 3rd March 2024. Applications received after this time will not be considered. Applications not including any of the above information will not be shortlisted.

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to interviews, which will be held in Nottingham or via MS Teams on the 20 March 2024.

The fellowship would start between July-October 2024.

The student will be supported by a team of clinical healthcare professionals working in paediatrics at Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) and supervised by a multidisciplinary clinical academic team from the University of Nottingham (Kathryn Radford, Professor of Rehabilitation Research and Laila Tata, Professor of Epidemiology) and the University of Leicester (Joseph Manning MBE, Professor of Nursing and Child Health / Clinical Professor and Charge Nurse Paediatric Critical Care Outreach (NUH)

Published on: 6 Feb 2024