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Unlocking the potential of biomedical data to understand the causes of disease

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Sunday, June 30, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Vast amounts of money have been channelled towards biomedical research, but the result is an abundance of data silos that exist mainly in isolation. The keys to unlocking the potential of these vaults of knowledge are in the hands of bioinformaticians, who can bring these data sources together to provide holistic views of the causes of disease. This project will develop capabilities to integrate, interrogate and compare biomedical data from across a range of important sources of disease causation data, including human genome-wide association studies, animal models of disease, clinical research studies, and the biomedical literature.

The project direction will be determined by the skills and interests of the student, and use the latest bioinformatics methodologies and technologies to build on existing achievements in this area, such as the international GWAS Central database for integrating genetic variants associated with disease which is hosted in Leicester. Possible research areas include the use of ontologies/terminologies to make sense of qualitative data; leveraging the power of the semantic web of Linked Data to connect data sets; or automatically identifying and extracting meaning from text using natural language processing.

Entry requirements

The ideal applicant will have a detailed understanding of Computer Science or Bioinformatics and hold/or expect to obtain a UK Bachelor Degree 2:1 or better in a relevant subject. Applicants with degrees in Biological Sciences would need to demonstrate advanced computing skills including working with databases (relational or non-relational) and have the ability to code original applications in languages commonly used in bioinformatics, such as Python or Perl.

The University of Leicester English language requirements apply where applicable:

How to apply

You should submit your application using our online application system:

Apply for a PhD in Genetics

In the funding section of the application please indicate you wish to be considered for a CLS/GGB Studentship
In the proposal section please provide the name of the supervisor and project title. You do not need to submit a proposal but we do require a personal statement detailing why you are interested in the project.

Project / Funding Enquiries

You are encouraged to make informal enquiries in the first instance, by contacting Dr Tim Beck

Application enquiries to

Closing date for applications 30 June 2019

Funding Notes

This fully-funded studentship is available to Home/EU students and covers UK/EU tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend for 3 years (for 2018/19 the stipend rate is £14,777). The studentship would be held in the Department of Genetics and Genome Biology in the College of Life Sciences at the University of Leicester and commence 23 September 2019.


Beck T, Hastings RK, Gollapudi S, Free RC, Brookes AJ. GWAS Central: a comprehensive resource for the comparison and interrogation of genome-wide association studies. Eur J Hum Genet. 2014 Jul;22(7):949-52.

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