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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.

Epidemiology of cancer in the elderly (aged ≥ 65 years ) in England

Supervisor 1: Prof Anjum Memon, Chair in Epidemiology and Public Health Medicine

Supervisor 2: Dr Max Cooper, Senior Lecturer in Primary Care

Supervisor 3: Professor Malcolm Reed, Professor of Surgical Oncology, and Dean of Brighton and Sussex Medical School

Application deadline: TBC

Applications are invited for a three-year PhD Studentship funded by Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS).

Background: Cancer is primarily a disease of older people - about 63% of all cancer cases and 77% of cancer deaths occur in people aged ≥65 years. Considering the increasing proportion of elderly in the UK population, it is estimated that the elderly will represent 25% (16.9 million) of the population by 2035, and the number of cancer cases will increase by 55% (from 149 000 to 231 000) in men and 35% (from 149 000 to 201 000) in women between 2007 and 2030.

For many cancers, the survival rates in England are lower than the European average. The observed lower survival, predominantly in the first year after diagnosis, is largely attributed to delayed diagnosis; and the higher number of excess cancer deaths in England mainly occurs in older patients. Delayed diagnosis (advance stage at presentation) can be caused by delays in presentation and primary care recognition, referral delays, secondary care investigation and treatment delays, and co-morbidity, particularly in older patients. It has also been reported that about one in four (24%) of all cancer patients are first diagnosed on emergency presentation to hospital. The proportion of such presentations increases with increasing age (one in three for patients aged >70) and that these patients have substantially lower 1-year relative survival.

Objectives/methods: This mixed-methods study will have three components:

  1. To conduct an epidemiological analysis of the cancer incidence data for England to determine trends in incidence, stage at diagnosis, morphology, method of diagnosis and type of treatment for the most common cancers in patients aged ≥65 years. The analysis will involve calculation of crude and age-standardised incidence rates; joinpoint regression; and age-period-cohort modelling.
  2. To conduct qualitative (semi-structured) interviews with 30 elderly cancer patients (15 males and 15 females with the most common non-screened cancer diagnosed on emergency presentation) to ascertain factors associated with delays in their presentation and diagnosis (i.e. awareness of cancer signs/symptoms, pathways to diagnosis, reasons for the delay, and experience at primary/secondary care). The outcomes will be also examined by age group and socioeconomic status.
  3. For these two types of cancer, primary and secondary healthcare records of a sub-sample of patients will be analysed and linked to the cancer incidence data to determine the role of co-morbidity in the presentation/diagnosis of cancer.

Expected outcomes of the study: The study will contribute to understanding the burden of cancer in the elderly, impact and changes in exposure to aetiological agents, and factors associated with delays in presentation and diagnosis. The results will inform the design of patients’ pathways for the elderly; planning, commissioning, and resource allocation for oncology services; and public health initiatives (including screening) to promote the earlier diagnosis of cancer. The study will yield a number of research outputs (conference presentations, peer-reviewed publications).

The Studentship provides valuable opportunity to gain skills and training in cancer epidemiology, health service research, and qualitative methods. The student will also attend relevant internal and external training courses.

Applicants for this three-year PhD Studentship, starting ASAP, should have a strong background and interest in epidemiology, or related discipline, with demonstrable experience in epidemiological study designs/methods and data analysis. Applications are invited from graduates with a First or Upper Second Class Bachelor’s degree (in Medicine, Health Sciences, Psychology/Sociology or a relevant health services research related subject) plus a Masters degree in epidemiology/Public Health or a related discipline or equivalent research experience.

The Studentship is for UK and EU citizens (home fees and stipend will be paid). However, for non-native English Speakers, a minimum score of 7.0 at IELTS is required.

Informal enquiries should be directed to Prof Anjum Memon

Applications will be considered on a first come, first served basis.

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

  • 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)