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Brighton & Sussex Medical School

PhD opportunities

BSMS > Postgraduate > Research degrees > PhD opportunities

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.


Interoception and preventative intervention for anxiety in adults with autism

Supervisors: Dr Sarah Garfinkel, Prof Hugo Critchley
Application closing date: Friday 14 July 2017

Project Description: Applications are invited for a 3-year PhD studentship to the Neuroscience (Psychiatry) team at Brighton and Sussex Medical School based at the University of Sussex to work on a collaborative project with Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (Mental Health) to understand the relationship between anxiety and interoceptive experience in adults with autism through the perspective of an interventional study (clinical trial of interoceptive training), autonomic psychophysiology and experimental neuroimaging. We are a leading laboratory in the field of interoception and its contributions to emotional and cognitive symptoms. 

The studentship centres around a three year project entitled ‘Aligning Dimensions of Interoceptive Experience (ADIE) to prevent development of anxiety disorders in autism’, funded by the charity MQ Transforming Mental Health. The work builds upon theoretical advances and fresh experimental evidence about the interaction between anxiety and the signalling and perception of bodily arousal. We identified a specific psycho-physiological mechanism for anxiety as a promising treatment target for people with autism spectrum disorders. We will also use state-of-the-art neuroimaging to quantify brain signatures relating to emotional and interoceptive processing and their development over the course of the therapy. 

The project offers opportunities to develop experience and skills in patient research, clinical interventions and neuroimaging within a vibrant collaborative environment. This should provide the successful candidate with critical skills and substantial experience to make them a highly competitive candidate for a postdoctoral research position, especially in the field of clinical neuroscience, autonomic psychophysiology and neuroimaging.

Funding Notes: Applicants for this 3 year PhD, jointly funded by Brighton and Sussex Medical School (based at the University of Sussex) and Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, should ideally possess a minimum of a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree (or equivalent) and a Masters Degree (or equivalent) in Neuroscience or Psychology or a relevant biomedical related subject. Both UK/EU and non-EU citizens can apply (UK/EU fees will be paid). Informal enquiries should be directed to Dr Sarah Garfinkel ( or Prof Hugo Critchley ( Please apply via the University of Brighton's website.


Garfinkel SN, Tiley C, O'Keeffe S, Harrison NA, Seth AK, Critchley HD. Discrepancies between dimensions of interoception in autism: Implications for emotion and anxiety. Biol Psychol. 2016 114:117-26. 

Garfinkel SN, Critchley HD Threat and the Body: How the Heart Supports Fear Processing. Trends Cogn Sci. 2016 20:34-46.

Application deadline: Friday 14 July 2017

On application, please enter the following text in the ‘Research Proposal’ field: Supervisor defined project, followed by the project title.

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 >

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)