"In spite of modern treatments, diabetes substantially increases the risk of suffering major cardiovascular problems including heart attack, stroke, limb ischaemia and heart failure, impairing quality of life and reducing survival. While our PhD programme alumni are in their early scientific careers, more than one in ten adults in the UK will suffer from diabetes, with major implications for individuals, families, and the economy. Our expertise in cardiovascular and diabetes research provides an excellent opportunity to develop researchers who are capable of meeting this substantial public health challenge."
Four fully-funded BHF 4 year basic science (non-clinical) PhD studentships are available for entry in October 2018. A list of available projects is available here.
We will be holding a Programme Open Day for potential applicants on Monday 11th December between 10am to 4pm. This will include an introduction by the Institute Director, a tour around the LIGHT Building, and an opportunity to find out more about projects you are interested in.
If you would like to attend, please email BHFPhDProgramme@leeds.ac.uk and indicate which project(s) you would like to discuss. You will be sent a programme of the day and time slot to meet the relevant supervisor(s).
Please note: we are unable to pay travel expenses for this Open Day.
A unique feature of our programme is the focus on your chosen project during Year 1. This gives you the best opportunity to publish during your PhD and become a strong contender for prestigious fellowships following the award of your degree.
Emphasis on support for you, including a dedicated administrator to look after you, and buddy and mentoring systems
Maximised time for your main PhD project to help you achieve publications
Opportunities such as 3-month overseas experience, giving your own lecture, and attending research retreats in the Lake District
Extensive relevant taught and real-life training experiences customised for you
Over 30 outstanding supervisors to choose from, from a vibrant diverse community of researchers
Opportunities to work with clinician scientists
Publication of a review article
BHF and international advisor endorsement of research and training excellence
Located in a stylish state-of-the-art scientific building on one of the largest university-hospital complexes in the UK
Close to a vibrant modern multinational city of 750,000 people with major retailers in the centre and diverse restaurants, culture and entertainment, with outstanding countryside all around including the Yorkshire Dales just to the north
|How to apply|
About the studentships
Four fully-funded 4-year basic science (non-clinical) PhD studentships are available for entry in October 2018.
How to apply
The closing date for applications is midnight on Tuesday 2nd January 2018.
Applicants should email the following supporting documentation to firstname.lastname@example.org:
If you have any queries regarding the application process please contact email@example.com
Our interview process is as much about you getting to know us and the research we do as it is about us meeting you. As such, we have a relaxed atmosphere at our interview events.
If selected for interview you will be invited to visit the Institute for most of the day. The day will include:
For candidates currently outside the UK, interviews can be conducted over Skype.
The closing date for applications is 2nd January 2018.
Athena SWAN Silver
The Athena SWAN Charter (www.athenaswan.org.uk) recognises and celebrates good employment practice for women working in science, engineering and technology (SET) in higher education and research. The University’s Athena SWAN Bronze Award was originally gained in 2009 and renewed in 2013. The University gained a Silver award in 2016. Holding an award at University level allows individual Schools or Faculties to apply for their own awards.
|About the programme|
Introduction to the PhD programme
Our unique programme seeks to create a new generation of basic scientists who think differently and go on to be instrumental in transforming understanding and treatment of cardiovascular disease associated with diabetes. We don’t expect you to be the finished article from the start. We provide a supportive, nurturing, structure to maximise the opportunities and allow our students to develop.
We want to help you to become fully aware of the challenges of a scientific world that will be increasingly competitive. We want to encourage you to achieve breadth of knowledge and collaboration, opening up possibilities across the spectrum of biomedical research and reaching out to other disciplines including chemistry, computing, engineering, mathematics, physics and structural biology. We want you to appreciate the problems faced by patients and healthcare providers. We want you to understand and be confident about interacting with the commercial world in order to deliver new therapies. Leeds is uniquely placed to deliver a blend of training which meets these high demands.
Our students receive a structured taught programme in which diverse talks and demonstrations are given from our most successful investigators. Due to the collaborative nature of current science, it is important for future investigators to experience the breadth of their subject area in addition to the specialism of their chosen project. This programme offers both and does so within a friendly open environment in which students are encouraged to establish relationships and learn from the experience of others.
Training opportunities on the programme
We plan to admit 4 new students to join the 10 students who are already established on our programme. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for an introduction to the programme, including existing students and potential supervisors, and an interview during a 1 day visit; selected students will be contacted to discuss the best-suited project. Each potential project addresses the challenge of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and includes 2 mini-projects in Year 1, usually outside the laboratory of the primary supervisor, but closely related to the main research project. This gives students the opportunity to spend 4 years primarily directed towards their main PhD project, while retaining the option to change direction and/or supervisors during Year 1, if properly justified. Final alignment of students with project and supervisors occurs by 9 months, when the proposal is provided to the BHF.
Year 1 includes a carefully designed programme of lectures, generic laboratory training and clinical experience provided specifically to the 4-year students or delivered in parallel to students on our clinical cardiovascular PhD programme. The details of this taught programme are provided below, and attendance is compulsory. Also in Year 1, students are supported to write a review article relevant to their project for formal publication in a peer-reviewed journal. We recognise the importance of maintaining support and guidance for our students beyond the supervisor team, and throughout their PhD project, so we organise quarterly progress meetings with students and supervisors, which assess progress towards thesis compilation and at least one high-quality original research paper. We support each student in establishing an outstanding independent mentor who will provide advice on long-term career planning and personal development. We also use the knowledge accrued by more senior 4-year PhD programme students to provide peer mentors.
Together with supervisors and the programme team, students also plan a visit to an outstanding overseas laboratory to develop further skills and experience relevant to their project. This normally occurs in Year 2/3 when the student is most able to capitalise on the experience, and potentially develop post-doctoral opportunities. For example, one of our current students has visited Donald Ingber’s lab at Harvard and another is currently at the University of Uppsala in Sweden.
The long-term success of our programme will be tracked and promoted by developing an active alumnus network co-ordinated by our programme administrator.
Being based in LICAMM allows students access to investigators and technology in cutting edge centres of excellence across the University. Examples from the broad range of opportunities include:
ePIC: Experimental and Preclinical Imaging Centre based in the LIGHT Building. This is a unique purpose-built multi-modal preclinical imaging facility, created with generous support from the British Heart Foundation. It contains a preclinical MRI scanner, a combined in vivo imaging platform for fluorescence, radioisotope, x-ray and CT, and a small animal ultrasound system. Combined with our existing clinical imaging set up, the new facility represents a step change in cardiovascular research offering unique new translational research opportunities. http://www.cardiovascular.leeds.ac.uk/investigators/imaging.php
Astbury Centre: The Astbury Centre brings together researchers from across the University - largely from physics, the biological sciences and chemistry - to allow interdisciplinary approaches to be harnessed to understand the molecular basis of life. The Centre has outstanding expertise and research infrastructure in chemical biology, biophysics and all of the major techniques in structural molecular biology. http://www.astbury.leeds.ac.uk/
Leeds Institute for Data Analytics (LIDA): Data Analytics brings together applied research groups and data scientists from all disciplines, opening up new opportunities to understand health and human behaviour and casting light on the action required to tackle a wide range of social and environmental problems. http://lida.leeds.ac.uk/
LICAMM aims to be an open and friendly place to work. As well as the excellent academic and professional opportunities, other events are organised to bring together students, academics and other staff more informally.
For information on these activities, see ‘What’s Happening’ at http://www.cardiovascular.leeds.ac.uk/
and our Twitter account at https://twitter.com/unileedscardio
Feedback from current students on the PhD programme:
The interview process was by far the best that I encountered whilst applying for PhDs. The interview day was very well organised and I came away with a real flavour of what doing a PhD at Leeds would be like. We were given a talk about the research at the Institute, had lunch with current PhD students and then had separate informal meetings with potential supervisors. The interview itself had more of a friendly feel than other interviews and I liked that I was not asked to prepare a presentation.
I chose to study at Leeds University to be a part of the prestigious Multidisciplinary Cardiovascular Research Centre and to have the opportunity to be funded by the British Heart Foundation. I also chose this particular PhD program as it provided funding for 4 years and included a 3-month placement in a laboratory abroad.
I found the interview process really informative and organized. We got to meet a range of people including the institute director and we got to have lunch with other current PhD students on the course. We also got to have one-on-one chats with some of our potential supervisors. The tour of the facilities was very useful. I got a real feel for what it would be like to study in Leeds.
The highlight of my PhD so far without a doubt has been my visit to Harvard University Medical School. Here I got to present my data to various groups, network with highly prestigious professors and visit the laboratories. Getting the opportunity to visit such a world class laboratory was invaluable and I feel it really has helped my development as a young scientist.
I chose Leeds because of the top quality Science. All the groups are striving to publish high impact “4*” papers and this push is a great opportunity for us to publish our own papers, which is really important for our progression as young scientists. The friendly and approachable atmosphere of the institute also instantly drew me towards choosing to study here in Leeds. The support, guidance and opportunities on offer really stood out compared to the other universities I visited. I also loved the idea of the lectures and demonstrations in the first year of the course, the variety of the lectures was a great opportunity to learn a lot about cardiovascular disease and diabetes facilitating collaborations with other members of the institute. I was also attracted to the idea of being able to see a real mix of demonstrations from basic science to medical clinics and theatres.
The highlight of the program for me has been the 3-month placement abroad in Leipzig, Germany as well as the hands on practical nature of the introductory lectures and lab demonstrations in the first year. Furthermore, the opportunity to regularly work with patients in a clinical setting has been a real highlight of this program.
During the program I feel that I have really developed as a young scientist. I now have much more confidence at public speaking. I present my own work in lab meetings weekly and present scientific papers in larger institute meetings quarterly. As well as within the institute I have also had the opportunity to present my work at various conferences, including presenting my work at an international conference in Vancouver. All these opportunities have developed my confidence in public speaking. I have also found that I have developed as an independent scientist. I am now confident in managing my own project and preparing manuscripts that we aim to submit before the end of the year.
For me, the highlight of my first year on the programme has been meeting and getting to know the other PhD students in the LIGHT building. The atmosphere around the Institute is social and friendly and this makes working here a good experience. I also really enjoyed the demonstrations during the first year of the programme, especially the clinical sessions where we were able to go over to the hospital to meet patients and hear about their cases.
The program has really developed me both as an individual and as an academic, successfully preparing me for a future career in research. The program has broadened my knowledge of clinical science and the techniques frequently applied in this field. I have also become a more critical thinker and can readily digest high-impact papers with a thorough understanding of the methods employed, the rationale behind the research, and the potential drawbacks of the conclusions.
Since 2008 we have had a single over-arching no-boundaries structure for all of our cardiovascular research. At the heart of this structure is a single cardiovascular department, the Leeds Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine “LICAMM”, home to the BHF’s only Chair in Cardiovascular and Diabetes Research, Professor Mark Kearney. LICAMM’s home, and the home of the programme, is an attractive state of the art research building of 2600 m2 (“The LIGHT Building”, built 2005) with a single management structure, team of core technicians and specialist technologists, new preclinical and advanced cellular imaging (funded partly by a £1.8 million BHF strategic award) and a newly-emerging clinical PhD training programme funded by Medtronic, LTHT Charitable Foundation and the University. Immediately behind is the Leeds General Infirmary, which contains our new cardiovascular clinical research facility (CRF) and our outstanding MRI research facilities including the MRC National Centre for Hyperpolarised MRI led by Sven Plein (BHF Chair). Importantly we are 1st nationally in recruitment to cardiovascular clinical trials. Adjacent is our new MRC Centre for Bioinformatics and our cutting-edge murine-focused animal facility, completed in 2012 and integrated with complementary Home Office-registered facilities in the LIGHT Building. Immediately across the road is the Astbury Centre for Structural and Molecular Biology led by Sheena Radford FRS which recently received £17 million new investment for cryo-EM and NMR. Within 5 to 10 minutes’ walk through the campus there are cutting-edge chemistry and small-molecule screening facilities, physics, mathematics and computation departments and our centre of excellence for medical engineering.
The LIGHT Building is thus an outstanding and unique home for the programme, at the heart of our cardiovascular research and with links to key disciplines, epitomising the University’s ethos and track-record of interdisciplinarity. We have outstanding supervisors to offer students across 6 themes (see below). The supervisors organise into teams to provide the best training and projects, blended from across key disciplines, themes and the career and diversity spectra from new tenure-track academic fellow to highly-regarded professor and director of institute and research centre. If a new academic fellow is the principal supervisor, an experienced PhD supervisor will provide formal recorded guidance and support throughout the 4 years of study.
The Leeds City Region is the largest UK city economy outside London. Its output is £60 billion and there are 109,000 businesses with 1.4 million employees. The University is the second largest in the UK with 32,000 students and 7,500 staff. It is a member of the Russell Group, in the top 10 UK universities for research power (2014 government assessment), and consistently in the top 100 universities worldwide. It contributes £1.35 billion per year to the local economy and has 44 current spinout companies. Leeds has the advantage of a single NHS Trust (“LTHT”) with two major and four other teaching hospitals coordinated with the University via a partnership board and serving over 4 million people.
A University of Leeds degree offers you much more than just academic excellence. Our size and diversity mean we can offer you a unique experience which combines our research-based curriculum with a range of opportunities to give you the knowledge, skills and experience to prepare for your future.
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