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GW4 BioMed MRC DTP PhD studentship: Brain ageing in schizophrenia and as a marker of mental and physical well-being

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, November 25, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the ‘GW4 BioMed MRC Doctoral Training Partnership’ which is offering up to 18 studentships for entry in September 2020.

The DTP brings together the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter to develop the next generation of biomedical researchers. Students will have access to the combined research strengths, training expertise and resources of the four research-intensive universities.


Lead supervisor:
Dr Esther Walton, Department of Psychology, University of Bath
Dr Doretta Caramaschi (Bristol)
Dr Tom Freeman (Bath)
Dr Stan Zammit (Cardiff)


Individuals with schizophrenia have a reduced life expectancy of up to 15 years. However, it is not well understood i) whether this is driven by poor physical health or also through accelerated mental ageing and ii) which genetic as well as modifiable lifestyle factors influence this acceleration.


This project focusses on healthy mental ageing in the general population and in individuals with schizophrenia. We will:
1. investigate how brain age links to a large number of phenotypes in the general population;
2. shed light into the genetic architecture of brain ageing;
3. identify how schizophrenia and linked modifiable lifestyle factors impact accelerated brain ageing.


Study 1 and 2 will be based on data from UK Biobank We will derive a brain age measure and test associations with all phenotypes in UK Biobank. This will allow us to identify how brain ageing associates with a wide range of traits, including physical health (e.g. immune and cardiometabolic traits). Furthermore, we will carry out a genome-wide association analysis to shed light into the genetic architecture of brain ageing.

Study 3: To generate the largest study of brain ageing in schizophrenia, data will be analysed from the ENIGMA Schizophrenia Group We will investigate brain age difference in patients and controls and how lifestyle factors (e.g., cannabis use, smoking, BMI) might affect these differences.

All three studies are highly innovative due to the interdisciplinary character, combining neuroscience, genetics and population health. Findings will have important implications with respect to healthy mental ageing across populations and in individuals with schizophrenia.

The successful applicant will be supervised by internationally recognised researchers in the field. The student will receive advanced training in genetic and epidemiological analyses (Bristol) and high-throughput neuroimaging computational data (training in Rotterdam and Boston). The student will also be encouraged to present at international conferences.


Applications are invited from excellent candidates with a First (1st) or Upper Second Class Honours degree (2:1) and/or Master’s level and/or equivalent professional practice in neuroscience, genetics, computer science, or related areas. Relevant research experience and programming knowledge in R would be advantageous. Informal enquiries about this studentship can be directed to Dr Walton at:

IMPORTANT: In order to apply for this project, you should apply using the DTP’s online application form:

You do NOT need to apply to the University of Bath at this stage – only those applicants who are successful in obtaining an offer of funding form the DTP will be required to submit an application to study at Bath.

More information on the application process may be found here:


Funding Notes

A full studentship will cover UK/EU tuition fees, a Research and Training Support Grant of £2-5k and a stipend (£15,009 p.a. for 2019/20, updated each year) for 3.5 years.

UK and EU applicants who have been residing in the UK since September 2017 will be eligible for a full award; a limited number of studentships may be available to EU applicants not meeting the residency requirement. Applicants who are classed as Overseas for tuition fee purposes are not eligible for funding.

More information on eligibility may be found here: View Website

How good is research at University of Bath in Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 54.20

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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