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Adolescent mental health and cognitive development in the SCAMP cohort: investigating multifactorial pathways to better understand the development of mental health resilience and vulnerability during adolescence

  • Full or part time
    Dr M Toledano
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 04, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

One in six 15-19 year-olds in the UK show symptoms of mental illness, withhalf of adult mental illness manifesting during adolescence, a time of mental vulnerability. Importantly, the reasons for this are not well understood. SCAMP is a prospective adolescent cohort study (current average age 15), established to investigate whether digital social environments are associated with cognitive, behavioral, educational, physical and mental health outcomes during adolescence. SCAMP ( participants are representative of the general school population across London in terms of age, gender, socio-economic status and ethnicity.

The SCAMP study has collected a rich array of data on social, educational, hormonal, environmental and lifestyle risk factors on mental and physical health during adolescence. The principal aim of this studentship is to investigate specific scientific questions such as: (A) to examine the relationships between adolescent’s digital social environments and mental health, including the interplay with physical health, physical activity, sleep and adiposity; and (B) to examine the complex inter-relationships between pubertal hormone profiles, and cognitive factors such as cognitive control, emotional reactivity and mentalising, to further our understanding of both mental health resilience and vulnerability during adolescence. Given that peer relationships in digital social environments, together with other factors, are critical to the developing adolescent brain, this is an exciting opportunity to undertake analysis investigating multifactorial pathways to better understand the development of mental health resilience and vulnerability during adolescence. Within this project, there is scope for the student to focus in on the aspects of most interest to them.

About the studentship:

This project is supported by the Enterprise DTP iCASE programme ( and is based at the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Imperial College London, in collaboration with the commercial partner Delosis Limited ( The studentship is fully supported for 3.5 years, and includes payment of fees at UK/EU rate and other project costs, as well as a tax free stipend of at least £18,000 per annum. As a CASE project, the student will spend at least one month a year with Delosis, allowing them to obtain a unique experience of a commercial, research technology environment.

Additionally, the student will also benefit from the support of the Imperial College MRC Supplement scheme (, which provides MRC students with the opportunity to apply for funding to support their PhD studies, in areas such as high end training, internships and post PhD transition.

The student will also benefit from being part of the Imperial College MRC DTP (, one of the largest and most established DTPs at Imperial College, and is led by the Director, Professor Laki Buluwela (

The academic environment

The project will be supervised by Professor Mireille B Toledano (, Professor in Perinatal & Paediatric Epidemiology, Imperial College London, who leads an excellent multi-disciplinary supervisory team, that interfaces across epidemiology, database programming, geographical information systems, and statistical methodology. The project will form part of the research programme of the national MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health ( - an international centre of excellence for research and training on the health effects of environmental pollutants and the translation of this knowledge to inform national and international policies to improve health.


Applications are invited from candidates who hold a Masters supported by a first degree, or a first degree only, based in areas aligned to the project (e.g. public health, psychology, environmental science, mathematics, statistics, medical statistics, etc). Enterprise DTP Studentship eligibility can be found on the programme web page (

How to apply:

To apply for this studentship, please complete the online DTP studentship application form (Visit Website/Apply Online Button), which will be live until the (4th January 2019, 23.59 GMT). Before you begin, please prepare your personal statement and have access to details of your qualifications and achievements, as progress on the online form cannot be saved.

Informal discussions prior to application with Professor Mireille B Toledano () are welcome.

Funding Notes

Both UK and EU candidates are eligible for full funding (including tuition fees). EU candidates must have been resident in the UK for three years in order to be eligible for full funding.

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