Funded PhD opportunities

The pathophysiology of non-freezing cold injury

  • Application end date: 11th February 2018
  • Funding Availability: Funded PhD project (International students only)
  • Department: Department of Sport and Exercise Science
  • PhD Supervisor: Dr Clare Eglin, Dr Heather Massey, Prof Mike Tipton

Project code: SPES4060218 - This project is only open to International (non-EU) students.

Project description

Non-freezing cold injury (NFCI) is caused by prolonged exposure to cold (and often cold wet) environments. It most commonly affects the feet, although the hands can also be affected. Although NFCI is often associated with the military, it also occurs in civilian populations working or undertaking recreational activities in hostile environments. In the chronic state, which may last for many years, NFCI is characterised (in variable combination and severity) by cold sensitivity, numbness, hyperhidrosis and persistent pain (Ungley and Blackwood 1942). Other neurological symptoms may also occur, including paraesthesia, loss of proprioception and, in severe cases, impaired neuromuscular function. Cold sensitivity may be associated with protracted peripheral vasoconstriction leading to an increase in peripheral cooling and resultant pain and numbness, and may increase an individual’s risk of further cold injury (Eglin et al. 2013). Therefore, the chronic symptoms of NFCI can have a profound effect on an individual’s quality of life and employability, with many service personnel diagnosed with NFCI being medically discharged (Oakley 2009). 

There is a paucity of research in NFCI and therefore its pathogenesis and pathophysiology are poorly understood thus currently the prevention, assessment and treatment of NFCI is not evidence based. Therefore, there is an urgent need for high quality matched case-control studies to identify the neural and vascular changes that occur with NFCI. A wide range of vascular and neural function tests will be conducted on patients with NFCI and control individuals matched for ethnicity, age, sex and fitness. The aim will be to develop a valid and reliable diagnostic test for NFCI, based on an understanding of the underlying pathophysiology. 

The Extreme Environments Laboratory in the Department of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Portsmouth has an international reputation for excellence in environmental and occupational physiology with state of the art environmental chambers and equipment. The successful candidate for this project will have at least an upper second class degree in Human Physiology or a related subject. It is anticipated that this project will be conducted primarily at the University of Portsmouth, however periods of data collection at Catterick Army base may also be required.

Supervisor profiles

Dr Clare Eglin

Dr Heather Massey

Prof Mike Tipton

Admissions criteria

You’ll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (depending upon chosen course, minimum second class or equivalent) or a Master’s degree in an appropriate subject. Exceptionally, equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will be considered. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.


Informal enquiries are encouraged and can be made to Dr Clare Eglin (02392 845299) Dr Heather Massey at (02392 843545).

For administrative and admissions enquiries please contact

How to Apply

You can apply online at You are required to create an account which gives you the flexibility to save the form, log out and return to it at any time convenient to you.

A link to the online application form and comprehensive guidance notes can be found at

When applying, please quote project code: SPES4060218

Interview date: TBC

Start date: October 2018.

Funding notes

This project is only open to International (non-EU) students.

Eligible applicants will be considered for the Portsmouth Global PhD scholarship scheme.

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