Wellcome 4-year Programme in Optical Biology at UCL

Applications are invited for places on the Wellcome 4-year Programme in Optical Biology at UCL

Optical Biology is an interdisciplinary field that involves using and developing cutting edge optical technology to study fundamental questions in biological systems. These systems can vary in scale from the level of molecules and cells to the behaviour of whole animals. Thus, optical biology combines advanced techniques such as 2-photon and super resolution imaging with state-of-the art optical control over biological processes such as second messenger signalling, gene expression, and neuronal activity.

The Wellcome Optical Biology PhD programme combines scientific excellence with a commitment to improving the working environment and career support for trainees. The programme brings together world-leading neuroscientists, cell biologists, physicists, chemists and computational scientists at UCL, with renowned industrial and academic partners, to deliver an integrated training programme in the most advanced optical methods and analysis tools.

Wellcome Trust 4-year Programme in Optical Biology at UCL

In the first year, students have the opportunity to carry out rotations in 2 - 4 laboratories of their choice, selected from projects offered by the 60+ laboratories participating in the programme. The first year also includes bespoke training in optical methods and analysis techniques as well as discussion sessions and debates on wider issues in science.

At the end of the first year the PhD laboratory is selected for years 2-4 of the programme. Bespoke training opportunities continue throughout this period and include the opportunity to learn essential skills or to gain access to specialised pieces of equipment via 3-month internships with a wide range of industrial or academic partners (https://opticalbiology.org/internships).

Successful candidates for the optical Biology PhD programme receive a starting stipend of £25,954, increasing to £27,808, in year four. Additional funds for career transition placements are available at the end of the PhD to facilitate progression along a student’s chosen career path.


We are strongly committed to developing an inclusive and positive research culture and providing students with the support they need to succeed. UK minority ethnic applicants are strongly encouraged to apply. Scholarship opportunities are available for overseas applicants.

For further details about the programme and for details on how to apply see the Optical Biology website.

Any queries, please send to opticalbiologyPhD@ucl.ac.uk.

The closing date is Tuesday 2nd January 2024 and interviews will be held in February 2024.