Skip to main contentSkip to footer
Brighton & Sussex Medical School

PhD opportunities

BSMS > Postgraduate > Research degrees > PhD opportunities

PhD opportunities

All our current PhD opportunites are listed on this page. 

In order to apply, please visit the University of Brighton website by clicking the “Apply Now” link below, and select “Doctoral College” as the School, and “Medicine” as the keyword. You should then select the project that you wish to apply for. There is no need to supply your own research proposal, unless you are submitting a speculative application. 

Apply for your PHD here >

If you are applying for a specific project that is advertised below, there is no need to write a research proposal. Simply give the details provided in the advertisement in the Research Proposal section of the online application form.

If you require entry clearance to study in the UK, please see the ATAS information.


Interprofessional dementia education: preparing an interdisciplinary workforce

Supervisors: Dr Stephanie Daley, Dr Molly Hebditch, Dr Pamela Rae

Application deadline: Monday 5 June 2023

Project Details

Time for Dementia (TFD) is a dementia education programme developed by BSMS in 2014 and has since been rolled out to nine universities.

Since 2018, three universities have adapted the TFD programme to include elements of Interprofessional education (IPE), that is, students from different healthcare professions learning together. IPE is identified as a pedagogic framework used to encourage interprofessional collaboration (IPC). IPC is a vital part of future practice that is essential to provide optimal team-based care for an increasingly aging population presenting with complex health and social care needs such as dementia. Having both the knowledge and skills to work with people with dementia, and being able to work collaboratively is vital to addressing this challenge.

There is limited but encouraging literature on IPE, but how IPE in dementia might influence attitudes to IPL and IPC in dementia care is sparse and has not been evaluated in TFD.


To understand the factors influencing students' perceptions and readiness to work inter-professionally in dementia care, and to understand the role of the TFD programme in this.

Research plan

This PhD project will be nested within and will extend the existing TFD research programme with a new collaboration with Plymouth Integrative Health and Social Care Education Centre (PHIC) at University of Plymouth

Sub-study 1: To conduct a systematic review on IPE in dementia care.

Sub-study 2: To analyse an existing dataset from a longitudinal survey of six student cohorts (n~900) at the University of Exeter and the University of Plymouth. This will assess student readiness for IPL and factors related to this including the impact of the interprofessional element of TFD. The primary outcome measure is The Readiness for Interprofessional Learning Scale (RIPLS). Possible variables of interest include student demographics, student type (medical, nursing or medical imaging), dementia knowledge and attitudes, previous experience with dementia, and participation or non-participation in dementia IPE (Time for Dementia). 

Sub-study 3: A qualitative study will be completed to explore the factors relating to IPE and perceptions of IPE, and IPC in practice. This will be designed by the PhD candidate but will include focus groups or individual interviews of students receiving interprofessional training (n=30).

The student will have the opportunity to work with a multi-disciplinary research team and collaborate with the medical school and faculty of health at the University of Plymouth and the University of Exeter. Excitingly, this PhD project involves a new collaboration for BSMS with the Plymouth Integrative Health & Social care education Centre

The TFD team, led by BSMS by Dr Stephanie Daley have a successful record of publishing peer-reviewed papers and it is expected the student would produce 3 publications as part of this PhD. 

The student will have access to active postgraduate community at the Centre for Dementia studies at BSMS, where there are currently 6 PhD students. It is intended that a weekly lab group will be set up if this application is successful. 

Interviews will be held on Tuesday 13 June.

A fully-funded studentship is available to UK nationals, and EU nationals with pre-settled status. Non-UK citizens will be liable for the difference in fees between the rate for home students and the overseas student rate. Applicants whose first language is not English are expected to meet the minimum requirements (7.0 IELTS). Informal enquiries should be directed to Dr Stephanie Daley (

Apply for your PHD here >


Developing reliable quantitative biomarkers for improving the utility of Low-Field MR in the study of disease 

Supervisors: Dr N Dowell, Dr Samira Bouyagoub, Dr I Simpson 

Application deadline: Friday 16 June 2023 

Applicants for this 3-year Brighton and Sussex Medical School-funded PhD starting in September 2023 should possess or expect to be awarded a minimum of a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant discipline. 

This project will develop novel low-field magnetic resonance imaging (LF-MRI) acquisition and analysis methods to improve both the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and contrast within a feasible acquisition timescale. These developments will enable low-cost and low-power quantification of common imaging biomarkers including morphometry and detection of white matter hyperintensities. We will explore the efficacy of these developments in healthy controls and subjects with HIV/AIDS, comparing accuracy with paired images of the same subject on a 3T scanner in the imaging centre.

MRI is an indispensable technology, enabling substantial advances in science and medicine. Commercial MRI machines that operate at high magnetic fields (1.5-3 Tesla) are expensive to install (£2-3 million) and maintain (>£100,000 p.a). Consequently, the number of scanners is limited, especially in less developed countries.

Recently, interest has grown in LF-MRI using field strengths 60x lower than a typical clinical MR scanner. Here, the dangers posed by the magnetic field are effectively eliminated while the scanner itself is small enough to be portable. However, clinical utility of LF-MRI is currently limited by poor (SNR) and low image contrast. In the brain, grey/white matter boundaries are indistinct leading to difficulties in differentiating brain areas through image segmentation.

The successful applicant will work with the supervisory team to tackle these challenges. For example, to improve SNR, we will implement a high SNR acquisition technique: steady-state free precession (SSFP). This will afford higher spatial resolution and permit the detection of white matter hyperintensities and improve reliability of volume measurements. However, SSFP suffers from image artefact on LFMR scanners due to poor magnetic field homogeneity. This can be addressed through phase cycling, where repeated images are acquired with different parameters. Such approaches offer the potential to employ data-driven compressed sensing approaches, which will further reduce the scan-time. Moreover, we can take advantage of the multiple images to reduce the effects of image noise and distortions.

We will improve image contrast by implementing MR fingerprinting, which generates unique signal evolutions (“fingerprints”) at every location in the image; matching these with computer simulations reveal parameters such as T1 and T2. With this information, contrast may be augmented so that the images are more familiar to radiologists and more conducive to segmentation.

This project would suit a student with an interest in medical imaging and magnetic resonance imaging physics and the computation aspects will appeal to those with good mathematical and programming skills. Students will be expected to present their work at top-tier MR physics, medical image analysis, computer vision or machine learning venues such as ISMRM, ENC, MICCAI, IPMI, CVPR, ICCV/ECCV, NeurIPS etc.

This project is jointly supervised by Dr Ivor Simpson, a lecturer in the Predictive Analytics Lab within the AI research group at the University of Sussex and Dr Samira Bouyagoub, MR Physicist at the Clinical Imaging Sciences Centre at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. Both institutions are situated within the fantastic south coast city of Brighton and Hove, adjacent to the beautiful South Downs national park.

Funding Notes

Home fees will be paid for UK citizens; non-UK citizens will be liable for the difference in fees between the rate for home students and the overseas student rate. Applicants whose first language is not English are expected to meet the minimum requirements (7.0 IELTS). Informal enquiries should be directed to Dr Nicholas Dowell (


Stigma towards dementia in young people: The impact of media

Supervisors: Dr Nicolas Farina, Prof N Tabet, Dr Alys Griffiths 

Applications accepted all year round 

Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Applications are invited for a 3-year PhD studentship to join the internationally recognised Centre for Dementia Studies, Brighton and Sussex Medical School at the University of Sussex Campus. 

The aim of the project is to better understand what dementia-related media young people engage with but also interrogate the relationship between various national and international media messages about dementia (social media, ad campaigns, movies) and how they affect attitudes towards dementia. 

Combatting stigma and raising awareness towards dementia is an international policy priority. As it stands, we know that negative attitudes towards dementia already exist from a young age, and that based on existing theories, attitude change might be easier during these younger years. Young people already have experiences of dementia, despite receiving little formal education about the condition. Whilst there is a significant minority that have provided support for a family member with dementia, many have experienced dementia only through the media (i.e. movies, news) and online sources. Previous research has identified that media messages of dementia can often be negative or stigmatizing, which could be in part responsible for attitude formation. However, it is unclear how young people engage with such media content about dementia and how this ultimately shapes stigma towards dementia. Such stigma ultimately influences how individuals engage with dementia, both now and in the future, and might ultimately determine career preferences. The research builds upon an existing theme of work led by Dr’s Farina, Tabet and Griffiths. 

The project provides a wide range of training that includes quantitative, qualitative and review methodology. The project, will also provide an opportunity to work with both young people and people living with dementia. This should provide the successful candidate with critical skills and substantial experience to make them a highly competitive candidate for a postdoctoral research position within applied health research, particularly in the field of dementia.

Funding Notes

Applicants for this 3-year PhD should possess or expect to be awarded a minimum of a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree (or equivalent) in psychology, health sciences, public health, or related subject. Both UK/EU and non-EU citizens can apply. Informal enquiries should be directed to Dr Nicolas Farina ( Please contact the Brighton and Sussex Medical School Doctoral and Research Officer (, with any other queries.


  1. Alzheimer’s Disease International. World Alzheimer Report 2019 : Attitudes to dementia. Read the report here. Published April 10, 2019. Accessed June 17, 2019. 
  2. Cheng TY-M, Liu L, Woo BK. Analyzing Twitter as a Platform for Alzheimer-Related Dementia Awareness: Thematic Analyses of Tweets. JMIR Aging. 2018;1(2):e11542. doi:10.2196/11542 
  3. Farina N, Hughes LJ, Griffiths AW, Parveen S. Adolescents’ experiences and perceptions of dementia. Aging Ment Health. 2019;0(0):1-7. doi:10.1080/13607863.2019.1613343 
  4. Farina N. What is taught about dementia in secondary schools? A survey of schools in Sussex, England (Innovative Practice). Dementia. July 2017:1471301217720016. doi:10.1177/1471301217720016 
  5. Isaac MG, Isaac MM, Farina N, Tabet N. Knowledge and attitudes towards dementia in adolescent students. J Ment Health. 2017;26(5):419–425. 
  6. Parveen S, Farina N, Shafiq S, Hughes LJ, Griffiths AW. What do adolescents perceive to be key features of an effective dementia education and awareness initiative? Dement Int J Soc Res Pract. 2019.


PhD studentships now recruited

  • Coping Strategy Enhancement - adapting the intervention for the treatment of hallucinations in the context of dementia
  • Suporting Dislexix Medical Students and Foundation Doctors in Safe and Effective Prescribing
  • Developing a co-designed brief, low cost and scalable intervention for student carer mental health and wellbeing
  • Optimising infection prevention and control in healthcare settings through applied genomics and prediction
  • Determining the role of long non-coding RNA in the pathogenisis of high-risk gain(1q) positive, multiple myeloma
  • Detection and characterisation of non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM)
  • Development of a new treatment for osteoarthritis
  • Substance use in relation to the mental and sexual heath of vulnerable adolescents and young adults under 25 in coastal areas of Kent and Sussex 
  • The mental health and wellbeing needs of looked after and displaced children in southeast England 
  • Helping young people to live successfully with long-term health issues
  • Resourcing Resilience: Positive psychology among adolescents living with HIV 
  • Widening access to psychological interventions for diverse communities: exploring the potential of community-led interventions 
  • Co-producing stigma-proof mental health interventions with and for newcomers (asylum seekers, refugees and migrants) in southeast England 
  • Defining Mycobacterium tuberculosis in lung tissue – a novel discovery platform for new vaccine and drug targets
  • Epidemiology of cancer in the elderly (aged > 65 years) in England
  • The roles of oxidative stress and redox regulation in chronic inflammatory disease (Supervisors: Dr Lisa Mullen, Prof Pietro Ghezzi, Prof Kevin Davies)
  • Pillars of Expertise: Visual Perception & Memory (Supervisors: Dr Natasha Sigala, Prof Mara Cercignani
  • Investigating the genetic basis of osteosarcoma in children & dogs (Supervisors: Prof Sarah Newbury, Dr Peter Bush, Dr Chris Jones)
  • The embodiment of unconscious knowledge in maladaptive behaviour (Supervisors: Prof Hugo Critchley, Dr Sarah Garfinkel, Prof Dora Duka)
  • Can simulation clarify diagnostic skills for newly qualified doctors? (Supervisors: Dr Inam Haq, Dr Wesley Scott-Smith)
  • Impact of oxytocin on emotional regulation in binge drinking and alcoholism: behavioural, physiological and fMRI investigations (Supervisors: Prof Hugo Critchley, Prof Dora Duka)
  • Developing an algorithm for predicting children with severe asthma (Supervisors: Prof Somnath Mukhopadhyay, Dr Katy Fidler)
  • Development of a refined model of neuropathic pain: a model without frank nerve injury (Supervisors: Dr Andrew Dilley, Prof Pietro Ghezzi)
  • Role of secreted oxidoreductases in osteoarthritis, rheumathoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus (Supervisors: Prof Pietro Ghezzi, Dr Manuela Mengozzi)
  • Measuring quality of life in severe dementia: validation of DEMQOL-Proxy in family and professional carers of people with severe dementia (Prof Sube Banerjee, Prof Naji Tabet)
  • Stigma in health care: Does it influence the way general practitioners record consultations? (Supervisors: Dr Elizabeth Ford, Prof Helen Smith, Prof Flis Henwood)
  • Interoception and preventative intervention for anxiety in adults with autism (supervisors: Dr Sarah Garfinkel, Prof Hugo Critchley)