PhD Studentship: Quantifying food consumption in hospitals and university catering environment

University of Southampton

Project Title: Quantifying food consumption in hospitals and university catering environment

Faculty of Medicine in the School of Human Development and Health

Main Supervisor:  Dr Caroline Childs

Other members of the supervisory team: Dr Milly Heelan

Start date:  25/09/2023

Project description:

In this project a digital dietary assessment tool based on artificial intelligence will be tested as a tool to accurately monitor dietary intakes in hospitals and other catering facilities.  This project is highly inter-disciplinary, and includes supervisory input from both the Faculty of Medicine and Electronics and Computer Sciences.

Accurate dietary intake monitoring is essential to provide appropriate treatment for patients at risk of malnutrition, but collection of food intake data in hospital is a difficult and resource-intensive task. Paper food record charts are often incorrect or incomplete due to competing responsibilities and tasks at mealtimes, inadequate training, or removal of food trays before staff have observed intakes. Malnutrition within the hospital setting therefore continues to be under-identified and under-treated. In line with the NHS long-term plan, a digital dietary assessment tool would provide a valid and reliable tool to accurately monitor dietary intakes. Electronic records will enable examination of longitudinal changes in intakes and/or dietary quality, and to identify patterns of intakes associated with positive or negative clinical outcomes. There is therefore a novel opportunity to use a system based on artificial intelligence to automatically measure dietary intake in hospitals to transform patient care.

This project also capitalises upon links with Menus of Change Research Collaborative (MCURC); an international initiative borne out of Stanford University and the Culinary Institute of Ameri-ca that promotes the use of colleges and universities to use campus dining halls as living laboratories to support the delivery of healthy, sustainable, delicious diets. The PhD candidate will benefit from the extensive expertise of the multi-disciplinary supervisory team and will gain skills in feasibility testing and validation of a novel device within both clinical and educational settings, with support from those experience in nutrition, clinical research applications, computer sciences and equipment design.

The successful candidate is likely to have the following qualifications:

  • A 1st  or 2:1 degree in a relevant discipline and/or second degree with a related Masters in nutrition, biological sciences or a related discipline, or its international equivalent.  Experience working in a clinical environment would be desirable.    

Funding information:

Due to funding restrictions this position is only open to UK applicants.

The NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) PhD studentship is funded for a stipend of £18,622 tax-free per year for up to 4 years and 3.5 years of fees.

Administrative contact and how to apply:

Please complete the University’s online application form, which you can find by clicking ‘Apply’ above.

You should enter Dr Caroline Childs  as your proposed supervisor. To support your application provide a one page cover page describing your interest in the studentship, an academic CV (including contact details of two referees), official academic transcripts and/or degree certificates to date.

Informal enquiries relating to the project or candidate suitability should be directed to Dr Caroline Childs ([email protected] ).

Closing date:  14/07/2023

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