GW4 BioMed2 MRC DTP PhD project: Integrating MRI network analysis and genomics to refine risk prediction in Alzheimer’s disease

   Department of Psychology

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  Dr Thomas Lancaster  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the GW4 BioMed2 MRC Doctoral Training Partnership which is offering up to 20 studentships for entry in October 2023.

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. More information may be found on the DTP’s website.

Supervisory Team:

  • Dr Thomas Lancaster (lead), University of Bath, Department of Psychology
  • Dr Byron Creese, University of Exeter, Exeter Medical School
  • Prof Valentina Escott-Price, Cardiff University, School of Medicine, Division of Neuroscience and Mental Health
  • Dr Elizabeth Coulthard, University of Bristol, School of Medicine, Institute of Clinical Neurosciences

The Project:

Alzheimer’s disease has a significant heritable component, yet we know little about how this genetic risk affects the living human brain. The project will incorporate bioinformatic approaches using neuroimaging, genomic and clinical health record data to understand why we see increased brain cell death in individuals with heightened genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease. The student will integrate this data to generate models that refine our understanding of the spatial, temporal and cellular brain alterations that occur prior to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease symptoms. The student will liaise with mathematicians, epidemiologists and neurologists to enhance ongoing risk prediction and biomarker strategies, aiming to optimise early detection and treatment in individuals with an increased genetic risk to develop Alzheimer’s disease.


Applicants must have obtained, or be expected to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an area appropriate to the skills requirements of the project. Academic qualifications are considered alongside significant relevant non-academic experience.

Non-UK applicants will also be required to have met the English language entry requirements of the University of Bath.

Enquiries and Applications:

Informal enquiries are welcomed and should be directed to Dr Thomas Lancaster on email address [Email Address Removed].

Formal applications must be submitted direct to the GW4 BioMed2 DTP using their online application form.

A list of all available projects and guidance on how to apply may be found on the DTP’s website. You may apply for up to 2 projects.


IMPORTANT: 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 from the DTP will be required to submit an application for an offer of study from Bath.

Biological Sciences (4) Computer Science (8) Mathematics (25) Medicine (26)

Funding Notes

Candidates may be considered for a 4-year GW4 BioMed2 MRC DTP studentship covering tuition fees, a stipend (£17,668 p/a in 2022/23) and a Research & Training Support grant of between £2,000 and £5,000 p/a dependent on project requirements. Studentships are open to both Home and International students; however, International applicants should note that funding does NOT cover the cost of a student visa, healthcare surcharge and other costs of moving to the UK. In line with guidance from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the number of awards available to International candidates will be limited to 30% of the total.


• Lancaster, T.M., Hill, M.J., Sims, R. and Williams, J., 2019. Microglia–mediated immunity partly contributes to the genetic association between Alzheimer’s disease and hippocampal volume. Brain, behavior, and immunity, 79, pp.267-273.
• Chandler, H. L., Wise, R. G., Linden, D. E., Williams, J., Murphy, K., & Lancaster, T. M. (2022). Alzheimer's genetic risk effects on cerebral blood flow across the lifespan are proximal to gene expression. Neurobiology of Aging.

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