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UCL-Birkbeck MRC Doctoral Training Programme

The UCL-Birkbeck MRC Doctoral Training Programme provides state-of-the-art PhD training across four strategic themes.

Fundamental mechanisms of disease

Understanding the fundamental mechanisms of disease can have a huge translational impact and we are internationally recognised in this area. This theme spans a broad range of research areas, including; molecular biology, developmental biology, stem cells and regenerative medicine, immunology, genetics, pharmacology, structural biology and biophysics

Experimental and personalised medicine

Experimental and personalised medicine drives the translation of discoveries from basic science and clinical medicine into benefits for human health, using an individual's genetic profile to guide decisions made in regard to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of a disease. Research in this theme encompass research into the understanding the mechanisms of pathophysiology or cause of disease, identification of new drug targets, development of new models of disease, and developing new biomarkers of disease progression and treatment.

Neuroscience and mental health

UCL is one of the world-leading institutions for neuroscience research, and together with Birkbeck this theme provides research training in a range of neurosciences areas, including; developmental, molecular, cellular & systems neuroscience, sensory systems, neurodegeneration, mental health, and neuroimaging.

Populations, people and data across the life course

Research in this theme spans a broad range of topics, including: understanding the factors that determine health and disease in populations; measure the burden of disease in populations; developing testing and measuring the impact of interventions and service improvement; and approaches to reduce inequalities in health status.

During the first year of the programme most students will undertake three lab rotations, in different research groups. In some circumstances it may be possible for a student to purse an MSc programme instead of rotations.

At the end of their first year students will select a primary and secondary PhD supervisor and write a short project proposal on which they will be assessed

At the end of their first year students will select a primary and secondary PhD supervisor and write a short project proposal on which they will be assessed by a viva examination prior to starting their PhD.

In addition to undertaking their research students will engage in a range of additional training activities including:

  • Enterprise/entrepreneurship (through the UCL Institute for Biomedical Engineering and UCL Advances)
  • Public engagement and knowledge transfer
  • Experimental medicine (through our Clinical Research Facilities)
  • Specific skills training will focus on MRC strategic priorities and particularly quantitative and in vivo skills

We are currently recruiting for 21 fully funded 4-year studentship places to start in September 2017; this includes home/EU tuition fees and a tax-free stipend in the region of £16,057.

Applicants must hold undergraduate or Masters degree (at least 2:1 or equivalent) and meet the residence eligibility requirement as detailed on the MRC website. Applicants who do not fulfil these criteria are not eligible.

All applicants must complete a UCL graduate student application form. Due to the cohort structure of our programme we only accept students to start in September each year, please do not choose other start dates on your application, otherwise it may not be reviewed by the programme.


Once you have registered please sign-in and follow the on-screen instructions. When searching for the programme, select 'Division of Biosciences' for the department you're applying to. Then select programme code 'RRDLBSS4MR01' and programme title, 'MRC Life and Biomedical Sciences'.


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