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PhD opportunities

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PhD opportunities

All our current PhD opportunites are listed on this page. If you would like to undertake a PhD at BSMS, please contact potential supervisors directly.

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.

Wellcome clinical PhD programme in global health research

Open for applications from 19 November 2016

The Wellcome Clinical PhD Programme in Global Health Research is a partnership between the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University College London, King’s College London, Queen Mary University of London, St George’s University of London and Brighton and Sussex Medical School bringing together their expertise in global health research. The Programme provides postgraduate training opportunities to clinicians committed to undertaking research on the health problems of low and middle income countries.

The Programme will support up to four clinical PhD fellowships each year over the next five years. The first intake will commence in the academic year 2017/2018.

The aim of the Programme is to support the most promising clinicians who wish to undertake rigorous research training and complete a research project in the field of global health. The Programme will focus on the following six key areas:

  • HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria

  • Neglected tropical diseases

  • Maternal and child health

  • Mental health

  • Antimicrobial resistance

  • Non-communicable diseases.

The Programme has a large pool of potential-supervisors who have a breadth of clinical specialities and experience in these areas.

Successful applicants will develop their potential to become academic clinicians within a structured and mentored training environment. They will, usually, spend up to two years overseas in a low or middle income country based in well-established research groups.

Financial support is for three years and includes a clinical salary, research expenses, general training funds and travel costs.

Applicants must be fully-qualified medical doctors (with no more than 10 years’ whole time equivalent [WTE] career experience after full medical qualification at the time of applying), have a right to work in the UK, be eligible for home/EU PhD fees and should be currently engaged in a specialist training programme and not yet awarded a CCT or equivalent. They must demonstrate academic excellence and a commitment to pursuing a career as an academic clinician with an interest in global health.

more about the programme and how to apply >


Preferential stem cell targeting using proTide nucleoside analogues

Application deadline: 14 February 2020

Applications are invited for a 3-year PhD studentship hosted at Brighton and Sussex Medical School on the University of Sussex Campus.

This studentship has developed from a partnership between Professor Chris Pepper, who has a long-standing interest in both cancer biology and drug development and the pharmaceutical company, Nucana plc. The project is designed to build upon preliminary data, which shows that proTide modification of some nucleoside drugs results in preferential targeting of leukaemic stem cells using an AML cell line model system. The precise mechanism(s) for this are yet to be elucidated but our data indicates increased intracellular bioavailability is likely to be a contributory factor. This may be mediated through enhanced drug uptake, reduced efflux and/or increased intracellular accumulation of the active triphosphate – these putative mechanisms will be explored as part of the project. The student will also investigate the role of tumour-associated hypoxia in promoting stem cell phenotypes and how this impacts upon responses to conventional drugs and nucleoside proTides. Finally, the student will study the potential for using rational combinations of nucleoside proTides and targeted agents as a means of eradicating cancer stem cells. We are seeking an enthusiastic and committed individual to join an expanding team of scientists at BSMS working on the microenvironment and drug targeting in CLL, DLBCL and AML. This training position will equip the successful candidate for a career in academia or the pharmaceutical industry and represents a unique opportunity to contribute to the development of a series of pre-clinical and clinical drug candidates. 

Find out more and apply here >


Computational systems biology of B-cell lymphoma 

Application deadline: 14 February 2020 

Applications are invited for a 3-year PhD studentship to join Brighton and Sussex Medical School at the University of Sussex Campus. 

The project aims to create simulations of B-cell lymphomas that can be used to perform virtual experiments, reveal the molecular mechanisms leading to lymphoma and find promising new targets for therapy. These models will be explained and be validated by clinical and experimental results from existing literature and international collaborators.

B-cell lymphomas are a commonly occurring cancer occurring when mutations cause a loss of regulation of molecular pathways controlling cell survival, proliferation and differentiation. While lots is known about the mutations that cause B-cell lymphomas finding better therapies to treat these cancers requires improving our understanding of how dysregulation of molecular signalling pathways leads to cancerous cell fates (1).

This studentship will be with Simon Mitchell, who recently established his group using computational systems biology approaches to investigate lymphoma at BSMS. We recently published computational simulations of how cell fates are altered by changes in molecular signalling networks and revealed new interactions and targets to control cell fate that were validated in the lab (2, 3).

These models are systems of differential equations, which are written into computer code, and solved using computational solvers with populations of individual being solved with parallel processing (4, 5). Preliminary data show that if we recreate dysregulation found in B-cell lymphomas we can recreate the cell fate changes that lead to lymphoma. We now want to extend this to work to create simulations of B-cell lymphomas that can be used to perform virtual experiments, reveal the molecular mechanisms leading to lymphoma and find promising new targets for therapy. The goal of this thesis will be to extend our existing models of B-cell fate decisions by combining published models in a variety of formats. Through developing a detailed knowledge of the molecular biology of B-cell lymphoma, the student will recreate in the model the dysregulation found in cancer. The simulations of B-cell lymphoma will be validated using publicly available data or by making predictions that can be tested in the lab. The student will use the models they create to predict effective ways to treat B-cell lymphoma.

We are seeking a highly motivated person to join a growing team of scientists at BSMS investigating blood cancers. The student will gain a wide range of interdisciplinary skills in computational systems biology including building and analysing computational models, writing code that helps answer challenging biological and clinic questions, collaborating with scientists and clinicians across disciplines and a broad academic publishing and presentation skillset. This training will make the student highly competitive for academic or industrial positions applying systems approaches to multiple disciplines. 

Find out more and apply here >


Social Sciences for Severe Stigmatising Skin Diseases (The 5-S Foundation) 

Application deadline: 27 February 2020

Applications are invited for a 3-year PhD studentship to join Brighton and Sussex Medical School at the University of Sussex Campus.

The Department of Global Health and Infection at Brighton & Sussex Medical School (BSMS), in collaboration with three overseas partners, has received a four-year grant from the UK National Institute for Health Research, to conduct research into Social Sciences for Severe Stigmatising Skin Diseases (The 5-S Foundation) (2019-2023).

The project aims to end neglect of three stigmatising skin diseases – podoconiosis, scabies and mycetoma, in our LMIC partner countries – Rwanda, Ethiopia and Sudan, through bringing the social sciences to bear on these conditions. As part of this project we are able to offer a PhD studentship for a candidate to conduct research into the social, ethical and political dimensions of NTDs.

Applicants must have an MA or MSc in social or health sciences or related fields. Priorresearch experience in health and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) is desired but notessential.

The deadline for application is 27 February 2020. Only shortlisted applicants will be invited for interview.

To find out more about this opportunity ahead of application please contact Dr Papreen Nahar or Professor Gail Davey

PhD studentships now recruited

  • 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, Dr 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)