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.


Molecular characterisation of the immunomodulatory effect of the human host defence peptide LL-37

Project title

Molecular characterisation of the immunomodulatory effect of the human host defence peptide LL-37

A Ph.D. studentship (3.5 years) is available from September 2023 under the supervision of Professor Sandra Sacre (Brighton & Sussex Medical School), Dr Ben Towler (University of Sussex) and Professor Rachel Simmonds (University of Surrey)


Sunday 15 January 2023

Host defence peptides are an essential part of the immune system, forming one of the first lines of defence against pathogens. There are several different families, including defensins, cathelicidins and histatins. Of the cathelicidin family, humans only express LL-37, which is secreted at epithelial surfaces and by several cell types at sites of infection. It is best known for its antimicrobial actions; however, novel immunomodulatory roles of LL-37 are now emerging within both innate and adaptive immunity. LL-37 has been shown to alter toll-like receptor induced cytokine production and promote Th17 differentiation. Due to the varied actions within the immune system, LL-37 has been demonstrated to have wider roles in autoimmune diseases and cancer, in addition to defending against pathogens.

This project will investigate the mechanism of how LL-37 modifies the inflammatory actions of human monocytes under different disease-modelling conditions. Using cellular and molecular techniques, the effect of LL-37 on cell signalling pathways will be explored.  The successful applicant will have the opportunity to experience a wide range of cellular and molecular techniques (including primary human cell culture, ELISA, immunoblotting, microscopy, flow cytometry, RNA sequencing and quantitative PCR) alongside opportunities to present at scientific conferences and publish their findings.

This is a collaborative project between The University of Sussex and The University of Surrey. The successful candidate will be based at Brighton and Sussex Medical School, which is part of The University of Sussex, but will work with research groups across both sites.

How to apply

Please submit a formal application using the online admissions portal below attaching a CV, degree transcripts and certificates, statement of interest and two academic references.

On the application system select Programme of Study – PhD Biochemistry, entry date September 2023. Please ensure you state the project title under funding and include the supervisor’s name where required.

This Sussex Doctoral School-funded position covers Home tuition fees and a stipend at standard UKRI rates. Applicants with overseas fee status will need to fund the difference between Home and International tuition fees (approx. £18k per year).

Ideal candidates will have a strong background in immunology or cell biology. Eligible applicants will hold a 2:1 BSc in a relevant subject. Candidates for whom English is not their first language will require an IELTS score of 6.5 overall, with not less than 6.0 in any section.

For enquiries about the application process, contact Emma Chorley:

For enquiries about the project, contact supervisor Professor Sandra Sacre:

Apply here >


Understanding disparities in healthcare among children and carers from different backgrounds in the context of chronic disease management

Applications are invited for a 3-year PhD studentship at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. Asthma is common in childhood. In the UK, asthma affects one in 11 children. Despite high standards of healthcare driven by NICE guidance, many children still suffer from poorly controlled asthma. which results in reduced quality of life and increased demands on healthcare services. The development of personalised treatment strategies are effective in managing certain conditions, however there is a risk that these advances could leave behind communities who already experience ethnic health inequalities. 

This project will utilise a range of methodologies including systematic review, service evaluation, qualitative methodologies and digital storytelling. In using these approaches, the student will aim to understand disparities in healthcare among children/carers from different backgrounds (mainly regarding ethnicity) within the context of chronic disease management. This will largely be within the area of children’s asthma although may also include other disease areas. The project will also look at standard disease management as well as novel approaches such as personalised medicine. 

The student will gain a solid understanding of health services research and the project will offer a range of training opportunities. The successful candidate will gain a range of research skills including undertaking systematic reviews, qualitative methodologies, digital storytelling, experience of study design and the ethical approvals process, and writing for publication. This should provide the successful candidate with critical skills and substantial experience to make them a highly competitive candidate for a postdoctoral research position. 

Funding notes

Applicants for this 3-year studentship starting in January 2023 should possess a minimum of a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree (or equivalent) in Psychology, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Sciences or similar. Informal enquiries should be direct to Dr Elaney Youssef ( In order to apply please visit the University of Brighton website. Please contact the BSMS Doctoral and Research Officer ( with any queries. 


Dr Elaney Youssef and Prof Somnath Mukhopadhyay.

Closing date

6 January 2023.

Apply here >

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

  • 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)