PhD opportunities

Our PhD research programmes provide an excellent level of training for science graduates and clinicians.

4-year PhD programme in Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics

We run a 4-year PhD programme starting each October. The PhD scheme follows a 1+3 year structure, with the first year providing background training in a broad range of topics, including genetic epidemiology, gene mapping, bioinformatics, functional genomics and genetic neuroimaging in relation to human neuropsychiatric disorders.

Students have the opportunity to undertake 3 projects with different research groups within the Centre in their first year, before choosing a research project and supervisors for the remaining 3 years.

Who can apply?

We are keen to attract individuals from a variety of backgrounds, and encourage applications from neuroscientists, geneticists, mathematicians and computer scientists. A first class degree, or 2:1 with Masters are a minimum requirement.

The MRC provides a stipend and PhD registration fees at UK/EU student rate, research expenses and a contribution towards travel.

2018 PhD programmes

We will advertise PhD studentships starting in October 2018 in November / December 2017, with a deadline for applications in January 2018.

Additional PhD opportunities

The MRC has awarded the GW4 BioMed DTP additional PhD studentships that will commence in October 2017. All studentships are fully funded for 3.5 years.

The following PhD projects are available:


This project will combine emerging knowledge about the genetics of major mental illness with the unique electronic health record resource of the NHS in order to examine the impact of genetic risk on clinical factors across traditional diagnostic boundaries using the largest samples of those with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in the world.

Supervisor: Dr James Walters.

Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) is a genetic neurodevelopmental disorder in which individuals display behavioural and psychiatric problems. Working with the Foundation for Prader-Willi Research Pre-clinical Animal Network, the aim of this project is characterise novel PWS mouse models & standardise a pre-clinical screening platform for drug candidates.

Supervisor: Professor Anthony Isles.

We will identify likely novel drug targets for schizophrenia by co-expression analysis of RNA-seq data from human neuronal cell lines carrying risk mutations. Perturbations will then be compared with human embryonic and adult brain tissue over neurodevelopmental time courses to establish which pathway components are most relevant and targetable.

NOTE: To find out more about this project or to organise an interview with the supervisory team, please contact Professor Michael O’Donovan.

Motor problems have a serious impact on a child’s daily live. Yet, little is known about the causes of motor problems. Motor problems frequently co-occur with neurocognitive and psychiatric problems, but the reasons are poorly understood. These issues will be studied in a genetically homogeneous sample of children with 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome.

Supervisor: Professor Marianne van den Bree.

CACNA1C is a major psychiatric risk gene, encoding a voltage-gated calcium channel protein. Its expression will be altered in human stem cell derived neuronal lines using CRISPR-based technology, and the effects on neuronal network activity monitored by microelectrode array (MEA) technology. This will create a human cell platform for drug screening.

Supervisor: Professor Adrian Harwood.

Employing Machine Learning algorithms is one way to explore the complex architecture of BIG genetic data and one such method, Support Vector Machines (SVM). The student will investigate the performance of sparse SVMs algorithm in simulated and real schizophrenia case/control data sets.

Supervisor: Professor Valentina Escott-Price.

Applications open on 11 May 2017 and close on 8 June 2017.

There are Additional MRC Studentships available, find out more about how to apply.

Get in touch

For any questions related to our PhD research programmes, please contact:

Psychiatric Medicine PhDs