University of Birmingham

Investigating the utility of exercise to enhance the yield of haemopoietic stem and progenitor cells in peripheral blood

Deadline: Open all year round
Self Funded

Project Description

Haemopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPC’s) are donated by approximately 2000 healthy individuals for patients with a variety of blood cancers and genetic disorders in the UK every year, however; there are barriers that limit this process working optimally. Previous research has shown that exercise can increase the number of HSPC’s in the blood, with suggestions that it could act as a complementary therapy to assist with the donation process. Despite these findings, the exercise protocols used have largely been too long (30-45 minutes) to feasibly implement in a donation setting.

High intensity interval exercise (HIIE) involves exercising at a higher intensity, but for a much shorter duration and overall exercise volume. The appearance of more HSPC’s into the blood appears to be dependent on both the volume and intensity of exercise, and therefore HIIE offers promise as a suitable protocol to assist with the donation process. Indeed, HIIE protocols have been developed for use in clinical settings and are therefore appropriate for a broad range of the population.

The purpose of this PhD programme is to: 1) examine changes in HSPCs dynamics following different types of HIIE; 2) determine mechanisms mediating their mobilisation; 3) evaluate the utility of HIIE in complementing the donation process of HSPC’s. This work seeks to provide a practical and safe exercise strategy to complement blood stem cell donation sessions and optimise the yield available for patients.

The successful candidate will undertake a PhD program, based within the School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences under the supervision of Dr Alex Wadley, along with other academics within the School and Medical School. This project will provide the selected student with unique access to numerous research opportunities across a broad range of disciplines (immunology, biochemistry and physiology). The laboratory work will involve handling human primary cells and techniques such as flow cytometry and ELISA, as well as utilising human exercise testing. The potential candidate would ideally have some experience with these, although full training will be provided. This project is funded by an external grant; however, the student would be required to self-fund or have a PhD scholarship secured.

Funding Information

This is a self funded project.

Eligibility Requirements

Applications are invited from self-funded UK/EU students and International students who have at least an upper second class degree in a relevant discipline.

Application Process

Interested candidates should initially send a detailed CV and covering letter highlighting research experience and capabilities to Dr Alex Wadley at [email protected].

Following this, candidates will invited to submit a full application, providing the following documents:

  • Names and addresses of two referees.
  • Copies of your degree certificates with transcripts.
  • Evidence of your proficiency in the English language, if applicable.


Agha, N. H. et al. Vigorous exercise mobilizes CD34+ hematopoietic stem cells to peripheral blood via the β 2 -adrenergic receptor. Brain. Behav. Immun. 68, 66–75 (2018).

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