Funded PhD Opportunity, Edinburgh

Muir Maxwell Epilepsy Centre and the Centre for Population Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh

Project title: The impact of early onset epilepsy on the parents and siblings of affected children.

Principal Supervisors: Dr Richard Chin and Dr Jeni Harden

Epilepsy is the most common serious neurological disorder in childhood. Most affected children have onset of their epilepsy by age 5 years  (early onset epilepsy), a critical period for neurodevelopment.  They experience not only seizures, but they may also suffer cognitive/behavioural impairments.  Thus, there may be a substantial burden placed on families but the effects of early onset  epilepsy on families remain uncertain. These data are essential for development of improved treatment strategies. Investigating early onset epilepsy is particularly important as it affords the possibility for early detection and intervention.

This research will parallel an already funded project of ours aimed at identifying the prevalence, characteristics and risk factors for cognitive/behavioural impairments in Edinburgh resident children with early onset epilepsy.   Both projects will foster interdisciplinary collaboration between University of Edinburgh researchers from the newly formed Muir Maxwell Epilepsy Centre, the Centre for Population Health Sciences.

All Edinburgh resident children aged 4 years with early onset epilepsy (circa 50 from Mid 2010 Population estimates) will be identified through a multi-tiered notification system and their families invited to participate. An appropriate qualitative methodology will need to be developed and/or selected for this doctoral work (e.g. focus groups, (serial) in-depth interviews, ethnography). This will be developed by the successful candidate with supervision. Parents will also be asked to complete the General Health Questionnaire 28 (GHQ28).

The student should have a background in social science (sociology, anthropology, health psychology) relating to the study of health and illness with an understanding of: lay perspectives; the experience of illness; parenting; qualitative methodologies; and some experience of conducting qualitative research.

Funding: Tuition fees for UK and EU citizens, and a stipend of £13,590 p.a. for 3 years, will be awarded to the successful applicant.

Start Date: 2nd July 2012

To Apply: Please contact Dr Harden (
jeni.harden@ed.ac.uk) for further information. To apply, please send a CV, 2 references and a cover letter by Friday 13th April 2012.

Senior Lecturer in Social Science and Health
Centre for Population Health Sciences
Medical School
Teviot Place
Edinburgh
EH8 9AG

Tel 0131 6506991

The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in Scotland, with registration number SC005336.
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