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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. 

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.


Multimodal imaging of brain metabolism in humans in vivo

Supervisors: Dr Iris Asllani, Dr Alessandro Colasanti 

Application deadline: Wednesday 31 January 2024 

Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the project

The overall goal of this PhD thesis is the development and implementation of metabolic imaging techniques, including  arterial spin labelling (ASL) perfusion MRI1 and quantitative BOLD MRI2 , for a comprehensive assessment of oxygen metabolism in the healthy brain at baseline. This is a methodology driven thesis that will provide the tools for future basic neuroscience and/or clinical applications such as mitochondria diseases and stroke. The candidate will work on proving the feasibility of multi-method imaging for providing absolute measurement of cerebral oxygen metabolism at baseline and during modulated breathing conditions, potentially including visual and/or motor activation.

The PhD student will be involved in implementing, testing, and optimizing the sequences, including writing the relevant software for image processing and analyses.  

Successful completion of the thesis will ensure that the candidate has gained:

(1) Knowledge of the fundamental principles of brain function and anatomy;

(2) Knowledge of the basic mathematical and physics of neuroimaging;

(3) Ability to acquire brain images using two different hardware systems;

(4) Ability to develop software for multi-modal image processing.

Funding notes

The studentship will be funded for a 3-year duration. The funding will cover home fees, a stipend at the UKRI rate, and research costs of up to £3,000 per annum. If a ‘top-up’ to international fees is required, this must be provided by the applicant from their own funds or external sources.

How to apply

In order to apply, please visit the University of Brighton website, and select “Doctoral College” as the School, and you will see the project listed to apply directly.


  • Borogovac A, Habeck C., Small S.A, Asllani I (2010) Mapping brain function using a 30-day interval between baseline and activation: a novel arterial spin labeling fMRI approach, Journal Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism, 30(10), 1721-33
  • Kacmarz S., Hyder F., Preibisch C., (2020), Oxygen extraction fraction mapping with multi-parametric quantitative BOLD MRI: Reduced transverse relaxation bias using 3D-GraSE imaging, NeuroImage, 220, 117095

Digital interventions, behavioural change and cognitive processes

Supervisors: Dr Natasha Sigala, Dr Dorina Cadar

Application Deadline: Monday 18 December 2023 

About the Project

The aim of the project is to understand the impact of digital interventions, such as mobile apps, on behavioural change, implementation intention and cognitive processes.

This is a project jointly funded by Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) and an industry partner which designs and delivers immersive safety leadership training programmes.

In order to ensure lasting retention of the in person training programmes, a set of digital reminders and prompts have been developed. The aim of the project is to understand the factors associated with active engagement with the mobile app developed by the Active Training Team (ATT), as well as how the characteristics and abilities of the participants affect the use of the learned information to plan and implement behavioural changes. The student will combine literature from a variety of fields, including behavioural change, occupational, health and cognitive psychology, learning and memory, goal and implementation intentions, ageing and executive functions. The project will involve a systematic review, large data collection, and a lab study involving different cognitive and behavioural tasks. The student will employ quantitative and qualitative experimental methods and will have the opportunity to work with a multi-disciplinary research team and collaborate within the Department of Neuroscience at the medical school and Sussex Neuroscience at the University of Sussex.

The PhD project will be supervised by Dr Natasha Sigala and Dr Dorina Cadar. The PhD studentship is full-time and will be based in BSMS at the University of Sussex campus.

Funding Notes

A fully-funded studentship is available to UK nationals, and EU nationals with pre-settled status. Non-UK citizens, including those without pre-settled status 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 Natasha Sigala (


  • Messmer L, Fenouillet F, Legrand E, The impact of reminders on implementation intention: A randomized controlled trial, Appl Cognit Psychol. (2022), 36: 1251-1259
  • Bamberg S, The Promotion of New Behavior by Forming an Implementation Intention: Results of a Field Experiment in the Domain of Travel Mode Choice, J Appl Soc Psychol. (2000), 30(9): 1903-1922
  • Pfeifer G, Ward J, Chan D, Sigala N, Representational Account of Memory: Insights from Aging and Synesthesia (2016), 28(12): 1987-2002
  • Cadar D, Usher M, Davelaar EJ. Age-Related Deficits in Memory Encoding and Retrieval in Word List Free Recall. Brain Sciences. 2018; 8(12):211.

PhD studentships now recruited

  • Coping Strategy Enhancement - adapting the intervention for the treatment of hallucinations in the context of dementia
  • 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)