Skip to main contentSkip to footer
lab-16
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.

Resourcing resilience: Positive psychology among adolescents living with HIV

Application deadline: Tuesday 30 June 2020 

Supervisors: Prof Carrie Llewellyn, Dr Marija Pantelic, Dr Collins Iwuji 

Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Applications for this PhD position beginning October 2020 are invited to join the Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) at the Universities of Brighton and Sussex, for a 3-year PhD working on an exciting study on positive psychology and HIV. 

Globally, an estimated 2.1 million adolescents are living with HIV. Adolescents are the only age group among whom AIDS-related mortality is on the rise despite free access to life-saving antiretroviral treatment (ART). This has been attributed to low HIV testing, treatment initiation and retention in care, which are compromised by a negative synergy of HIV-related stigma and poor mental health (1–4). 

Critical evidence gaps limit our ability to capitalise on young people’s resilience and develop adolescent-centred HIV services. First, there is currently no research on positive psychology among adolescents living with HIV, but this is a critical concept for informing adolescent HIV and mental health services. Meta-analytic evidence suggests that adults commonly experience positive changes and benefits after their HIV diagnoses, and this was associated with improved mental and physical health outcomes (5). Second, there is a dearth of research on what works to improve the mental health of and reduce the stigma experienced by adolescents living with HIV (2,6,7). Third, research on adolescent HIV has nearly exclusively focused on negative and often reductionist narratives, which can further perpetuate self and societal stigma, weaken mental health and hence damage linkage to care and adherence to ART (8). 

PhD Objectives 

This PhD will be an interdisciplinary exploration of positive growth (benefit finding; cognitive reappraisal) among adolescents living with HIV in the UK. The successful candidate may choose to add a comparative component with a second country that varies substantially in terms of HIV prevalence, health service infrastructure, linkage to care and perceptions around adolescent HIV (e.g. South Africa). The second country will be chosen by the applicant with negotiation by the supervisory team. The PhD will qualitatively explore young people’s trajectories towards positive growth and views around their HIV status, in order to inform context-relevant and age-appropriate mental health and HIV interventions. 

Learning outcomes and supervisory team: This PhD offers a wide range of training opportunities and the student will be able to acquire essential skills from a variety of areas including research methods, research governance and ethics, publishing in peer-reviewed journals and conference presentations. The supervisory team will span the disciplines of health psychology and global health, across three Brighton & Sussex Medical School departments (Primary Care & Public Health, Medical Education and Global Health and Infection) and with an international collaborator. Dr Marija Pantelic (Department of Medical Education) has published widely on adolescent HIV and stigma. Dr Collins Iwuji (Department of Global Health and Infection) has extensively researched linkage to HIV care in South Africa. Prof Carrie Llewellyn (Department of Primary Care and Public Health) brings decades of research on HIV and health psychology in the UK including positive psychology. The supervisory team have well-established collaborations with UK and international civil society organisations and universities. This PhD will 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 fields of sexual health, health psychology and public health.

Funding Notes

Applicants should possess or expect to obtain an equivalent of a First or Upper second Class Honours Degree in a social science, psychology, humanities or public health related field of study. Informal enquiries should be directed to Professor Carrie Llewellyn (c.d.llewellyn@bsms.ac.uk). Please see the website for fees. 

The school will contribute up to a maximum of £3,000 for running costs, travel for interviews, 1 conference within Europe and 1 overseas return flight (if applicable). Additional costs will be funded by the student/students sponsor.

References

Baisley K, Seeley J, Siedner M, Koole K, Matthews P, Tanser F, et al. Findings from home‐based testing and facilitated linkage after scale‐up of test and treat in rural South Africa: young people still missing. HIV Med [Internet]. 2019 Nov 27 [cited 2019 Nov 20];20(10):704–8. Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/hiv.12787

Pantelic M, Steinert JI, Park J, Mellors S, Murau F. “Management of a spoiled identity”: systematic review of interventions to address self-stigma among people living with and affected by HIV. BMJ Glob Heal [Internet]. 2019 Mar 19 [cited 2019 May 14];4(2):e001285. Available from: http://gh.bmj.com/lookup/doi/10.1136/bmjgh-2018-001285

Pantelic M, Boyes M, Cluver L, Meinck F. HIV, violence, blame and shame : pathways of risk to internalized HIV stigma among South African adolescents living with HIV. J Int AIDS Soc [Internet]. 2017;20(1):1–9. Available from: https://doi.org/10.7448/IAS.20.1.21771

Earnshaw VA, Bogart LM, Laurenceau J-P, Chan BT, Maughan-Brown BG, Dietrich JJ, et al. Internalized HIV stigma, ART initiation and HIV-1 RNA suppression in South Africa: exploring avoidant coping as a longitudinal mediator. J Int AIDS Soc [Internet]. 2018 Oct 1 [cited 2018 Nov 29];21(10):e25198. Available from: http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/jia2.25198

Sawyer C, Ayers A, Field SP. Posttraumatic growth and adjustment 1 Running head: POSTTRAUMATIC GROWTH AND ADJUSTMENT Posttraumatic Growth and Adjustment among Individuals with Cancer or HIV/AIDS: A Meta-Analysis. 2010.

Pantelic M, Shenderovich Y, Cluver L, Boyes M. Predictors and correlates of internalised HIV-related stigma: A systematic review of studies in Sub-Saharan Africa. Health Psychol Rev [Internet]. 2015 Jan [cited 2016 Feb 8];9(4):469–90. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25559431

Betancourt TS, Meyers-Ohki SE, Charrow a, Hansen N. Research Review: Mental health and resilience in HIV/AIDS-affected children: a review of the literature and recommendations for future research. J Child Psychol Psychiatry [Internet]. 2012 Sep 4 [cited 2013 Mar 6]; Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22943414

Pantelic M, Stegling C, Shackleton S, Restoy E. Power to participants: a call for person-centred HIV prevention services and research. J Int AIDS Soc [Internet]. 2018 Oct [cited 2018 Oct 22];21:e25167. Available from: http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/jia2.25167

In order to apply please visit University of Brighton website. Please contact the BSMS Doctoral and Research Officer (researchdegrees@bsms.ac.uk) with any queries.

BACKGROUND IMAGE FOR PANEL

Widening access to psychological interventions for diverse communities: Exploring the potential of community-led interventions

Application Deadline: Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Supervisors: Dr E Ford, Dr C Strauss, Dr Clio Berry

Project Description

Brighton and Sussex Medical School are offering a 3-year PhD scholarship (full time or 5 years part-time) to be based in the Department of Primary Care and Public Health. We welcome applications to undertake health and social care services research and/or evaluation commencing in September/October 2020. The studentships is linked to the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration Kent, Surrey and Sussex which aims to develop applied health and social care research across the region for the benefit of patients and the public. 

We welcome applications from prospective students interested in community-based mental health interventions. This project will be supervised by Dr Elizabeth Ford and Dr Clio Berry from BSMS with Dr Clara Strauss from Sussex Partnership Foundation NHS Trust. 

This PhD studentship aims to widen access to evidence-based mental health psychological interventions for common mental health problems to members of our communities who may be reluctant to access traditional NHS-based services. Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) is the NHS service in England with the remit of widening access to these interventions, however we know that people accessing IAPT are not representative of the communities they serve in terms of gender, age, ethnicity or socio-demographic status. This PhD studentship will aim to: (a) develop an understanding of barriers and facilitators to seeking psychological support for mental health difficulties in our communities, including digital considerations (b) co-produce a community-led evidence-based psychological support for people experiencing emerging, subthreshold and mild common mental health problems in consultation with and supported by local GP and mental health IAPT services such as experiments with primary care co-location, and (c) evaluate the feasibility and preliminary indicators of effectiveness of the co-produced service. 

We are looking for students who are enthusiastic about applied health and social care research and can become part of the research communities within ARC KSS and BSMS. Applicants will have completed a psychology, health or social care related postgraduate training course at Master’s level equivalent to merit or distinction with a substantial research training component (such as an ESRC recognised training course), or be willing to undertake additional research methods training.

Funding Notes

This is one of a two fully funded three-year PhD studentships. Stipends, university fees, travel and conference expenses, and consumables are jointly funded by NIHR ARC KSS and BSMS. Both UK/EU and non-EU citizens can apply (home fees will be paid for UK/EU citizens; non-UK/EU citizens will be liable for the difference in fees between the rate for home (EU) students and the overseas student rate).

Co-producing stigma-proof mental health interventions with and for newcomers (asylum seekers, refugees and migrants) in Southeast England

Supervisors: Prof C Llewellyn, Dr Marija Pantelic, Dr Priya Paudyal         

Application Deadline: Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Project Description

Brighton and Sussex Medical School are offering a 3-year PhD scholarship (full time or 5 years part-time) to be based in the Department of Primary Care and Public Health. We welcome applications to undertake health and social care services research and/or evaluation commencing in September/October 2020. The studentships is linked to the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration Kent, Surrey and Sussex which aims to develop applied health and social care research across the region for the benefit of patients and the public. 

This PhD studentship aims to widen access to evidence-based mental health psychological interventions for common mental health problems among newcomers within our communities who may not be accessing traditional NHS-based services. Improving access to psychological therapies is key to improving mental health outcomes, however we know that multiple forms of stigma and discrimination act as profound barriers to newcomers’ access to health services.

The PhD has three objectives: 

  1. To systematically examine the role that stigma and intersectionality (based on ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, educational background, unemployment, newcomer status, etc) have on engaging with and accessing mental health services in KSS (and possibly nationally); 
  2. Together with migrants and health providers, co-produce guidance and materials to mitigate stigma experienced by newcomers and its harmful effects on engagement with mental health and wellbeing services with the aim of optimising quality, uptake and engagement; and 
  3. To test the effectiveness of these materials on mental health service uptake and engagement through a pilot implementation trial. 

We welcome applications from prospective students who have a background and/or interest in psychological/social services for mental wellbeing and/or mental health and will bring skills in communicating with members of the community or co-design of research or services. An interest/ knowledge of marginalised communities and the charitable sector in the south east of England would be an advantage. 

This project will be supervised by Professor Carrie Llewellyn, Dr Marija Pantelic and Dr Priya Paudyal from BSMS with Dr Chrissie Jones from The University of Surrey. The project will be aligned to the ARC KSS Primary and Community Care for marginalised groups theme, and will also focus on co-production.

We are looking for students who are enthusiastic about applied health and social care research and can become part of the research communities within ARC KSS and BSMS. Applicants will have completed a psychology, health or social care related postgraduate training course at Master’s level equivalent to merit or distinction with a substantial research training component (such as an ESRC recognised training course), or be willing to undertake additional research methods training.

Funding Notes

This is one of a two fully funded three-year PhD studentships. Stipends, university fees, travel and conference expenses, and consumables are jointly funded by NIHR ARC KSS and BSMS. Both UK/EU and non-EU citizens can apply (home fees will be paid for UK/EU citizens; non-UK/EU citizens will be liable for the difference in fees between the rate for home (EU) students and the overseas student rate).

BACKGROUND IMAGE FOR PANEL

Defining Mycrobacterium Tuberculosis in lung tissue – a novel discovery platform for new vaccine and drug targets

Supervisors: Dr Simon Waddell, Dr Javier Salguero, Dr Sally Sharpe, Dr Ann Rawkins

Application deadline: Monday, June 29, 2020 

Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Applications are invited for a 3-year PhD studentship to join our tuberculosis research group in the Department of Global Health and Infection at Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS). The project will use cutting-edge technologies to characterise Mycobacterium tuberculosis at the site of disease, in lung tissue. The studentship, starting in October 2020, is a collaboration with Public Health England (PHE), National Infection Service, Porton Down, Salisbury, UK. 

Tuberculosis (TB) is among the top ten causes of death worldwide. A more effective vaccine and new drugs with novel mechanisms of action are desperately required. However, we are yet to identify the key protective antigens to target for vaccination or define druggable bacterial pathways that will eradicate TB bacteria from the lung. This project will use whole-genome molecular profiling tools to characterise Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacilli in lung tissue and map host-pathogen interactions. The project is a collaboration between Dr Waddell at BSMS and Dr Salguero, Dr Sharpe and Dr Rawkins at PHE Porton. The applicant will have the opportunity to work at both institutions, with the majority of time spent at BSMS. The project offers a wide range of training and career development opportunities and the student will acquire essential skills including microbiology, molecular biology, transcriptomics, immunology, histopathology, bioinformatics and working with pathogenic bacteria in Containment Level 3 facilities. This should provide the successful candidate with critical skills and substantial experience to make them a highly competitive candidate for a postdoctoral research. 

The National Infection Service Laboratories–Research department, based at PHE Porton, is the UK’s largest capability for the handling of dangerous human pathogens and animal modelling of infectious diseases which is used to understand pathogenesis and undertake pre-clinical development and assessment of new vaccines and therapeutics including an extensive research programme on TB. The TB group has high containment laboratories and facilities for in vivo studies with CL3 pathogens including expertise in aerosol delivery of pathogens and high containment imaging. Well-characterised in vivo models of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection established in small and advanced animal species, and multidisciplinary expertise in the pathology of mycobacterial diseases (Dr Salguero), model development, immunology, vaccinology and aerobiology (Drs Sharpe and Rawkins) enable the design and execution of studies to study pathogenic mechanisms and to characterise the immune response to vaccination and infection and which makes this group a major international centre for the evaluation of novel TB vaccines. 

The post will be based in the Medical Research Building on Sussex University Falmer campus just outside Brighton. The student will join the Department of Global Health and Infection at BSMS that has a vibrant research programme with academic links around the world (www.bsms.ac.uk/research/global-health-and-infection/index.aspx). Taking an inter-disciplinary approach, we work on existing and newly arising health issues, including neglected tropical and non-communicable diseases as well as infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, HIV and antimicrobial resistance. Students will be encouraged to present their work at national and international conferences and will have the opportunity to travel. Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) is an equal partnership between the Universities of Sussex and Brighton together with NHS organisations throughout the South East region. The University of Sussex is a leading research-intensive university, ranked in the top 10 in the country for Biological Sciences. The University of Brighton is a diverse institution with a long and distinguished history of applied research. The project expands collaborations with Public Health England, which provides strategic leadership and vision for protecting and improving the nation’s health. Its ambition is to lead nationally and enable locally a transformation in the health expectations of all people in England regardless of where they live and the circumstance of their birth. It will achieve this through the application of research, knowledge and skills. It is a distinct delivery organisation with operational autonomy to advise and support Government, local authorities and the NHS in a professionally independent manner. 

Applicants for this 3-year PhD funded by Public Health England (PHE) starting in October 2020 should hold, or realistically expect to obtain, at least an Upper Second Class Honours degree or equivalent in microbiology, molecular biology, biochemistry or similar. It is expected that applicants will have a strong interest in tuberculosis.

Funding Notes

EU applicants must demonstrate a relevant connection to the UK through ordinary residence. As a UK public funded body, PHE cannot fund applicants from outside the EU. PHE studentships do not carry visas so all applicants must have a valid, independent reason, for staying in the UK for the duration of the project. Funding provides full support for tuition fees, associated project costs, and a tax-free stipend of approx. £17,000 per annum.

References 

Alqaseer K, Turapov O, Barthe P, Jagatia H, De Visch A, Roumestand C, Wegrzyn M, Bartek IL, Voskuil MI, O'Hare HM, Ajuh P, Bottrill AR, Witney AA, Cohen-Gonsaud M, Waddell SJ, Mukamolova GV (2019). Protein kinase B controls Mycobacterium tuberculosis growth via phosphorylation of the transcriptional regulator Lsr2 at threonine 112. Mol Microbiol; 112(6):1847-1862. PMID: 31562654. PMCID: PMC6906086. 

Honeyborne I, McHugh TD, Kuittinen I, Cichonska A, Evangelopoulos D, Ronacher K, van Helden PD, Gillespie SH, Fernandez-Reyes D, Walzl G, Rousu J, Butcher PD, Waddell SJ (2016). Profiling persistent tubercule bacilli from patient sputa during therapy predicts early drug efficacy. BMC Med; 14:68. PMID: 27055815. PMCID: PMC4825072. 

Kaufmann SHE, Dockrell HM, Drager N, Ho MM, McShane H, Neyrolles O, Ottenhoff THM, Patel B, Roordink D, Spertini F, Stenger S, Thole J, Verreck FAW, Williams A (2017). TBVAC2020 Consortium: Advancing Tuberculosis Vaccines from Discovery to Clinical Development. Front Immunol; 8:1203. PMID: 29046674. PMCID: PMC5632681. 

Clark S, Lanni F, Marinova D, Rayner E, Martin C, Williams A (2017). Revaccination of Guinea Pigs with the Live Attenuated Mycobacterium tuberculosis Vaccine MTBVAC Improves BCG's Protection Against Tuberculosis. J Infect Dis; 216(5):525-533. PMID: 28329234. 

Informal enquiries about the project should be directed to Dr Simon Waddell (s.waddell@bsms.ac.uk), queries about eligibility should be sent to the BSMS Research Degrees Administrator (ResearchDegrees@bsms.ac.uk).

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.

Find out 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)

  • Interoception and preventative intervention for anxiety in adults with autism (supervisors: Dr Sarah Garfinkel, Prof Hugo Critchley)