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Research degrees in Medicine and Dentistry



See also: the website for School of Medicine and Dentistry

Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry and its member Institutes house a thriving academic research community. Our position as one of the country's top four medical schools has been confirmed by the latest Research Assessment Exercise (2008), which also placed us top in London for the quality of our research.

All of our academic staff are engaged in leading research - adding to the body of knowledge in their field of expertise and benefiting the students they teach and supervise. We welcome applications for research degrees and pride ourselves on the support and opportunities we provide to our postgraduate students. We also have clear policies on student supervision and monitoring.

If you are thinking of applying for one of our research degrees or to study with us for a PhD, you can find details of our research areas and staff research interests listed under each of our constituent institutes, together with our contact details in case you have any queries or require further information from us.

We have an excellent record of attracting high quality postgraduate students. As a research student at Barts, we encourage you to develop your career to its fullest potential, helping you to make the most of your career opportunities, both academically and commercially, at national and international levels.

Blizard Institute

The Blizard Institute is the largest institute of Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry and aims to deliver excellence in all aspects of research, teaching and clinical service.

Our aims

The specific aims of the Institute are:

  • Provision of a world class biomedical research environment which integrates basic science, clinical research and translational research activity
  • Development of innovative, interdisciplinary and cutting edge programmes of internationally competitive research in our core areas
  • Provision of the intellectual environment and physical facilities for high quality training of junior research staff and students
  • Development of partnerships with neighbouring NHS Trusts, healthcare professionals and local communities to build research collaborations which address the health needs of our local population

The Institute is made of the following centres:

Centre for Cell Biology and Cutaneous Research

The Centre for Cell Biology and Cutaneous Research brings together a group of leading clinical and non-clinical scientists researching the cellular and molecular basis of epithelial diseases. Key strengths include development of skin three-dimensional models, cancer biology and genetics, extracellular matrix biology, epithelial signalling and gene discovery in genetic skin and related diseases.

Centre for Genomics and Child Health

The Centre for Genomics and Child Health constitutes a critical mass of clinical and non-clinical scientists whose research encompasses genomics to address the biology of health and human (Mendelian and complex) disease. It has a translatable link to many clinical diseases particularly those important in childhood.

Centre for Immunobiology

The Centre for Immunobiology consists of twenty research-active groups with around eighty scientists dedicated to top-quality research and education in immunology, with particular focus on acute and chronic inflammatory disease, lymphocyte development, and the mucosal immune system.

Centre for Neuroscience and Trauma

The internationally recognised Centre for Neuroscience and Trauma has approximately 85 research active staff and PhD students. The Centre’s strategic research is focused on five broad themes: trauma sciences, neurotrauma & neurodegenerative disorders, neuroimmunology, stem cells, regeneration & cancer and genomics & cancer.

Centre for Primary Care and Public Health

Based in Whitechapel in the heart of London's east end, the Centre aims to deliver world leading research and education to inform and support local and global primary care and public health policy. The Centre brings together some of the UK's leading researchers, practitioners and educators in a vibrant, multidisciplinary group, including those with backgrounds in general practice, biostatistics, medical sociology, immunology, genetics, public health, nursing, bioethics and psychology.

Institute of Cancer


The Barts Cancer Institute is made up of the following research centres:

  • Centre for Cancer and Inflammation
  • Centre for Cell Signalling
  • Centre for Experimental Cancer Medicine
  • Centre for Haemato-Oncology
  • Centre for Molecular Oncology
  • Centre for Tumour Biology

The Institute currently consists of six research centres, driven by a strong translational theme, with emphasis on specialised research areas, which focus on specific cancers. At the forefront of a number of scientific and medical discoveries, the Institute is one of the largest of its kind in the UK.

We provide a supportive and multidisciplinary environment for our research students, promoting academic exchange and personal development at all levels.

The Barts Cancer Institute has over 70 research students undertaking PhD or MD Res degrees. These students carry out an original research project in one of our Institute laboratories at Charterhouse Square at Barts and The London. The period of study is typically three years for full-time students. Projects are offered in a range of cancer-related research areas, as outlined in more detail on the following pages. We have a clear policy within the Institute on student supervision and monitoring.

As a research student at the Institute, in addition to carrying out your specific research project, you will receive training in a range of biomedical laboratory methods and in other transferable skills. Our aim is to equip our students for a career in science and to make them very attractive to potential employers.

Postgraduate resources

At present nearly 30 per cent of the School's research degrees are cancer-related, making us a key constituent of research activity.

There are five, fully equipped state-of-the-art research laboratories that include suites for proteomics and mass spectroscopy, cancer pharmacology, FACS, molecular pathology services with automated immunohistochemistry / in situ hybridisation systems, intravital microscopy and confocal microscopy.

These are complemented by purpose-built School core facilities, including the Genome Centre. There is a Molecular Imaging Facility for small animals that includes microPET, SPECT / CT and IVIS bioluminescence / fluorescence systems to complement the state-of-the-art clinical PET system with integrated 64-slice CT system recently commissioned in the Molecular Imaging Centre at Barts Hospital.

The Institute's Teaching Centre is specifically for the use of our MSc students and includes teaching rooms, a fully-equipped laboratory, a surgical skills virtual reality suite and a computer laboratory.


Graduate research students in the Institute are funded either by a grant award made to the project supervisor, or by personal awards to the student from national charities and overseas agencies. A number of scientific research studentships are available from the Institute each year, funded by Cancer Research UK (CR-UK). Most of our clinicians undertaking higher degrees are funded by awards such as MRC and CR-UK Clinical Research Training Fellowships.

Several internally funded PhD studentships are available each year, funded through the Research Advisory Board of the Charitable Foundation and directly by the School. In addition, Queen Mary provides a number of College studentships, for which overseas students are also eligible. There is no separate application form and all applicants for an MPhil or PhD programme to commence in the 2011- 12 session will automatically be considered for research studentships. Studentships cover tuition fees and provide annual maintenance.

Career opportunities

Key relationships have been established with the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute at Lincoln's Inn Fields to foster translational research. Integration with the new Comprehensive Clinical Research Network (which covers 2.7 million people in north east and north central London) and is directed by the Director of the Barts Cancer Institute, Professor Nick Lemoine, will build on our existing relationships with the North East London Cancer Research Network involving the other acute hospitals in North East London and the North East London Consortium for Research and Development.

Through the introduction and development of new anti-cancer therapeutics, we have links with many major pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Some postgraduate student destinations include:

  • graduate entry into medicine, PhD studentships (including within the Institute) in continuing education
  • research positions within the Institute and other major research centres around the world
  • clinical trials (including those within the Institute), clinical scientists in the NHS, research assistants in industry.

Entry requirements

For entry to a PhD programme you should hold either;

  • A first or upper second class honours degree in a relevant biological subject from a UK university
  • A Masters degree
  • A recognised equivalent from an accredited overseas institution
  • An equivalent professional qualification.

How to apply

Each year the Institute have around 10-15 new PhD studentships. When available these are advertised on:

Prospective research degree students who have already obtained funding should contact Dr Simon Joel, Director of Graduate Studies, in the first instance.

The application form for research students can be found

You also need to include full details of your previous educational achievements and two academic references.

For international students, please refer to the International Studentssection. [new window]

Further Information

For postgraduate enquiries, please email:

Director of Graduate Studies
Dr Simon Joel
Tel: +44 (0)20 7601 8924

General postgraduate information
Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 7952/7840

International students
Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 6530

Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry
The Admissions and Recruitment Office
Room CB02
Queens' Building
Mile End Road
E1 4NS
Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 5533

Research areas

Our research strategy is built on an integrated molecular and cellular approach to the problem of cancer in individuals and in populations. A spectrum of research is underway and includes: therapeutic and diagnostic target identification and validation in both haematological and solid malignancies; clinical trials exploring new therapies; the development of novel molecular approaches for diagnosis, classification and treatment of human cancers; and investigations into the regulation of tumour spread and host anti-tumour responses.

The specialist areas of interest for each of the six research centres within the Institute are outlined below.

Centre for Cancer and Inflammation

This Centre focuses on the links between cancer and inflammation. The overarching hypothesis that drives research in our Centre is that immune cells and mediators found in experimental and human cancers are more likely to promote cancer growth than be part of a host anti-tumour response. We believe that inhibition or re-alignment of this inflammatory process may be of therapeutic benefit.

Our aim is to translate our laboratory research in chronic inflammation, cancer growth and spread into new treatments for cancer, especially ovarian cancer, and we are involved in several Phase I and Phase II clinical trials. We have excellent collaborations with the Departments of Gynaecological Oncology and Medical Oncology at Barts and The London NHS Hospitals.

Research groups

  • Cancer and Inflammation Group
    Leader: Professor Frances Balkwill
    This group aims to understand links between cancer and inflammation and translate this into novel clinical trials.
  • Tumour Microenvironment
    Dr Thorsten Hagemann
    We aim to understand the fundamental mechanisms by which TNF signalling promotes cancer; with particular reference to the role of macrophages and their phenotype in carcinogenesis.

Centre for Cell Signalling

The Centre for Cell Signalling is a world-class centre of expertise in both basic and applied PI3K signalling.

Uncontrolled PI3K signalling is one of the most commonly deregulated pathways in cancer. PI3Ks also play principal roles in inflammation, diabetes and other disease contexts, making these enzymes attractive targets for therapeutic intervention. The development of drugs that block PI3K action is being actively pursued by the pharmaceutical industry.

Research groups

  • Cell Signalling Group
    Leader: Professor Bart Vanhaesebroeck
    The main interests of this group include signal transduction in cell migration, proliferation, survival, intracellular vesicular transport, in the context of cancer, inflammation and immunology, angiogenesis, metabolism and stem cell biology. Collaborative efforts with industry are under way in the preclinical development of isoform-selective small molecule inhibitors for PI3K. We aim to help to translate this preclinical work to early phase clinical trials through our links with the Centres for Medical Oncology and Experimental Cancer Medicine.
  • Analytical Cell Signalling Group
    Leader: Dr Pedro Cutillas
    We aim to understand the basic principles that govern cell signalling pathways, their molecular mechanisms and the contribution that different members of these pathways have to their signalling network. We are particularly interested in learning the properties by which these pathways control fundamental physiology and how they are deregulated in disease. Experimentally, our group integrates state-of-the-art mass spectrometry, advanced separation technology, cell biology and biochemistry to the study of cell signalling pathways in health and disease. The ultimate goal of this work is to contribute to the understanding of the fundamentals of cell signalling and to translate this knowledge to the design of personalised therapies to treat conditions with deregulated cell signalling pathways.

The Centre for Experimental Cancer Medicine

The Centre provides design and management support for all trials including national, pharmaceutical and investigator-led studies and centralises all staff involved in clinical trials to ensure compliance with the European Directive on Good Clinical Practice.

  • The aim of the Centre is to increase:
  • recruitment into existing clinical trials
  • the number of trials - NCRN, pharma-sponsored and investigator-initiated
  • the diversity of clinical trials open at Barts and The London NHS Trust.

Clinical Cancer Pharmacology Unit
Dr Simon Joel
This Unit conducts pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic studies of cytotoxic agents against a background of clinical trials. The aim is to develop and test new agents in the laboratory and in clinical trials and to optimise the way in which established chemotherapy drugs are used through a better understanding of their molecular and clinical pharmacology.

Centre for Medical Oncology

This Centre has a long and distinguished history in haemato-oncology, urological and paediatric malignancies, having led several pivotal trials in the treatment of these cancers.

Research groups

  • Clinical and Applied Medical Oncology Group
    Professor Andrew Lister, Dr Silvia Montoto, Dr Jude Fitzgibbon
    This group aims to characterise the molecular signature of lymphomas to identify recurrent genomic and expression changes within these lymphomas to guide treatment selection.
  • Cancer Genomics Group
    Professor Bryan Young, Dr Manoj Raghavan
    This group aims to understand the key genetic events in malignant transformation especially in acute myeloid leukaemia. Genomic approaches are being used to uncover novel genetic lesions important in the occurrence
    and evolution of haematopoietic malignancies.
  • Cancer Immunotherapy Group
    Professor John Gribben, Dr David Taussig, Dr Alan Ramsay
    This group aims to develop immunotherapy approaches for the treatment of cancer, including stem cell transplantation; to identify tumour antigens with particular emphasis on B cell malignancies; to characterise malignant stem cells and to understand the impact of the tumour microenvironment on outcome in haematological malignancies.

Centre for Molecular Oncology and Imaging

This Centre is focused on the development of innovative therapeutic and diagnostic approaches to cancer. We are an internationally recognised centre of expertise in gene therapy for cancer, with a particular focus on oncolytic viruses.

Linked to the clinic through a clinical fellowship programme and honorary consultants, our research is carried out within five laboratory groups.

Research groups

  • Molecular Pathology Group
    Professor Nick Lemoine, Dr Tatjana Crnogorac-Jurcevic, Dr Claude Chelala, Dr Rebecca Roylance, Dr Adam Rosenthal, Dr Peter Szlosarek
    This group aims to identify molecular biomarkers of disease progression and treatment response.
  • Gene Therapy Group
    Professor Nick Lemoine, Professor Iain McNeish, Dr Gunnel Hallden, Dr Yaohe Wang, Dr Michelle Lockley
    This group aims to develop gene-targeted intervention strategies to treat cancer using oncolytic viruses and genetic triggers of apoptosis.
  • Genito-Urinary Cancer Group
    Dr Yong-Jie Lu, Dr Dan Berney
    The Genito-Urinary Cancer group focuses on molecular and translational research of testis, bladder, renal, penile and prostate cancer.
  • Molecular Imaging Group
    Professor Steve Mather, Professor Rodney Rezneck, Dr Norbert Avril
    This group is focused on the development of molecular targets for radionuclide-mediated diagnosis and therapy of cancer. It includes both laboratory teams and clinical consultants,working in the Departments of Nuclear Medicine and Radiology at Barts and The London NHS Trust.

Centre for Tumor Biology

This Centre is concerned primarily with understanding the role that cytoadhesion plays in modulating cancer spread and has focused particularly on the involvement of members of the integrin family of adhesion receptors technology.

Research groups

  • Cellular Adhesion in Invasion and Metastasis Professor Ian Hart, Dr John Marshall
    This group aims to understand how cell adhesion affects tumour spread and to develop strategies for blocking cancer metastasis.
  • Angiogenesis Group
    Dr Kairbaan Hopala-Dilke
    This group aims to understand the roles of cell adhesion in disease, particularly with respect to angiogenesis and tumour cell-endothelial cell interactions.
  • Epithelial-Stromal Group
    Professor Louise Jones
    This group aims to understand the pathobiology of breast cancer with a particular focus on cell adhesion and myoepithelial cells.
  • Gene Transcription Group
    Professor Helen Hurst
    We aim to understand the molecular mechanisms that control expression of key breast tumour genes, in order to identify novel targets for cancer therapy.
  • Growth Factor Signalling Group
    FGF receptors - Dr Richard Grose
    This group aims to understand and delineate the functions of FGFs and their receptors in tumourigenesis and wound repair.
  • Spatial signalling
    Dr Stephanie Kermorgant
    We aim to understand how endosomal signalling of the c-Met receptor affects tumour cell metastasis.

Institute of Dentistry


Research in the Institute of Dentistry is organised within multidisciplinary research groups:

  • Infection and immunity
  • Oral cancer
  • Caries, Hard Tissues and Material Research
  • Clinical and Population Research

The Institute of Dentistry has consistently been rated highly against its peers in external assessments of its research and teaching performance. Our policy is that our dental research should always be in the main stream of biomedical research, contributing to it and at the same time benefiting from strong interdisciplinary links with our colleagues in the rest of the Medical School and the College. We provide a friendly, first-class, intellectually stimulating and focused environment for postgraduate study.

The Dental School of The London Hospital Medical College was formed in 1911 and moved into the current Institute of Dentistry building in 2014. Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry was formed in 1995 and merged with Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) in the same year. The school acknowledges its location in the east of London and embraces the potential this offers for teaching and learning.

The Institute of Dentistry has a long and proud record of internationally recognised research in oral and dental sciences. We combine a strong tradition of clinical, epidemiological and public health research in dentistry with a solid basic science research base that brings together a range of multi-disciplinary teams with complementary skills from clinical science, cell and molecular biology, microbiology, material science and biophysics. The Institute's research activities are organised into three thematically linked research groups, Immune and Inflammatory Disease, Caries, Hard Tissue and Materials Research and Oral Cancer. Extensive collaboration throughout QMUL brings us great benefits from the excellent research facilities available within the College.

The Institute of Dentistry welcomes postgraduate students MPhil, PhD, RD (RES) and visiting research fellows to undertake research in the areas of interest listed below. Our research students are registered for QMUL degrees (MPhil/PhD/RD) or post-doctorate training, and work under the supervision of senior researchers. They are trained in transferable skills in accordance with the British Research Councils requirements for research students.

For further information on research opportunities please contact the Director of the Institute of Dentistry Graduate School:

Professor Robert Allaker
Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 2388

Postgraduate resources

The Institute of Dentistry is a special place to undertake postgraduate studies, bringing together a number of world-leading researchers in basic and clinical sciences who supervise research students in the fields of oral medicine, oral pathology, oral microbiology, oral epidemiology, oncology, dental biomaterials, dental biophysics, dental public health, dental education, periodontology, orthodontics, paediatric, prosthetic and conservative dentistry. In addition, our research students benefit from extensive interdisciplinary links with other areas of research within QMUL.

The well-established Centre for Oral Biometrics provides a focus for clinical postgraduate activity, offering seminar space, office, and computing and clinical facilities. It includes a Dental Metrology Unit equipped with facial laser scan and facial image analysis.

Microbiology and Cell and Molecular Biology resources are based in the award-winning Blizard Building, which is a multi-disciplinary research facility housing over 400 biomedical scientists.

Core research facilities within the School of Medicine and Dentistry also include a new Genomics Centre development for high throughput DNA sequencing, genotyping and real-time PCR; a new Functional Genomics facility containing robotics and microarray readers; and a new Imaging Centre containing confocal and electron microscopy.

Biophysics and Biomaterials are based in modern, well-equipped laboratories on the Mile End campus, adjacent to relevant collaborators in the Department of Chemistry and Department of Materials Science at QMUL. In addition, the Institute of Dentistry is located in east London and serves the largest multi-cultural population with high socioeconomic diversity in the UK. This provides a unique opportunity to carry out population-based studies and infer conclusions to other environments.

Scholarships and studentships

Graduate research students in the Institute are funded in one of three ways: either by a grant award made to the project supervisor, a personal award to the student from national charities or overseas agencies, or student self-funding. Clinicians undertaking higher degrees are eligible for awards such as the MRC Clinical Research Training Fellowships.

Several internally funded PhD studentships are available each year, funded through the Research Advisory Board of the Charitable Foundation and directly by the School. In addition, Queen Mary provides a number of College studentships, for which overseas students are also eligible. There is no separate application form and all applicants for an MPhil or PhD programme to commence in the 2015-16 session will automatically be considered for a research studentship.

Studentships cover tuition fees and provide maintenance at the basic Research Council level.

Check for up-to-date information on the Institute of Dentistry website.

Career opportunities

Key relationships have been established with groups working in other Institutes of the School of Medicine and Dentistry such as in Diabetes and Metabolic Medicine and the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit. There are active collaborations with the Engineering and Materials Science and Geography Departments at Queen Mary. National and international links have been made with industrial (including GlaxoSmithKline and GC Corp), academic (including Washington USA, North Carolina USA, Aarhus Denmark, Imperial College and Manchester) and non-governmental organisations (Cancer Research UK).

There is increasing collaboration with the primary care trusts serving the 2.7 million individuals in north-east and north central London in areas such as the epidemiology of adult oral health.

Some postgraduate student destinations include:

  • Graduate entry into medicine, PhD studentships (including within the Institute), and postdoctoral studies in continuing education
  • Research and teaching positions in universities and research centres around the world
  • Clinical trials, clinical scientists in the NHS, research assistants in industry

Entry requirements

You should have an upper-second class (or better) BSc honours degrees, or equivalent, to be eligible to apply for admission to research degrees.

For international students, please refer to the International students pages.

Research areas

Research is organised within multidisciplinary research groups, which provide critical mass of expertise, common interests and a fulfilling academic environment. Major interests within these groups include the following:

Infection and immunity

  • Microbial pathogenesis and virulence
  • Microbial-host interactions and immune defences
  • Naturally occurring antibacterial peptides and other molecules
  • Mucosal immune responses
  • Clinical studies and genetic factors in oral ulceration
  • Host bacterial reactions in periodontal diseases
  • Cell biology of bone formation and tissue regeneration
  • Risk and prognostic factors in periodontitis

Oral cancer

  • Oral epithelial ageing and role of telomerase in oral cancer
  • Epithelial stem cells in cancer
  • Keratinocyte biology
  • Biology of tumour invasion and role of integrins
  • Clinical studies of treatments in oral cancer
  • Behavioural factors and smoking cessation

Physical sciences in dentistry

  • Physical chemistry of dental caries
  • X-ray microtomography of dental hard tissues
  • Crystallographic studies of enamel and biomaterials
  • Changes in bone structure associated with ageing and tooth loss
  • Salivary proteins in enamel homeostasis and dental caries
  • Biomechanical properties of bone and dental hard tissues
  • Polymer chemistry and dental materials
  • Development of polymers for drug delivery devices

Clinical and population research

  • Clinical and population studies on sociopsychological, economic, and behavioural determinants of oral health inequalities
  • Clinical and population studies on tobacco cessation in the oral health environment
  • Clinical and population studies on oral health impact on quality of life population studies on the burden of oral diseases
  • Clinical studies on determinants of treatment outcomes of oral and dental conditions, including oral cancer, Behcet's Syndrome, dry mouth, periodontal diseases, and malocclusion, clinical studies on minimum intervention
  • Development of primary care networks for practice based research
  • Systematic reviews (collaborative work with the Cochrane Oral Heath Group)

William Harvey Research Institute


The William Harvey Research Institute has three central research themes, and one centre:

  • Inflammation science
  • Cardiovascular medicine
  • Endocrine research
  • Centre of Sports and Exercise Medicine.

The William Harvey Research Institute (WHRI) has just celebrated its 25th year with success and growth in the depth and quality of our programmes in cardiovascular, inflammation and endocrine research. Our major strength is in bringing scientists with different skills together, combining disciplines such as genetics, cell biology, pharmacology, epidemiology, advanced imaging and clinical trials with therapeutic innovation. Recently, we have strategically invested over £4.1m in excellent researchers to support our mission and increased our staff levels by 24 per cent.

The William Harvey Research Institute was established by the Nobel Laureate John Vane with the goal of becoming an international powerhouse for pharmacological research operating at the academic / industry interface. The Institute has now grown to accommodate 240 researchers and is independently rated amongst the top 20 pharmacological research centres worldwide.

We benefit from strong clinical links to cardiology, renal medicine, critical care, anaesthesia, rheumatology and clinical endocrinology in our allied Barts and The London NHS Trust.

We are the largest pharmacological research institute in the United Kingdom university sector and our success in this respect can be measured by publications in high-impact journals, accompanied by renewal and additional funding of one MRC and five Wellcome Programmes, which we lead or support as co-investigators.

Our real advantage is our model of therapeutic innovation, which allows a two-way flow of hypothesis generation from the scientist at the bench through the clinician to our patients and back again in the form of clinical data, samples and experience. We believe in capitalising on the diversity of the community that we serve and this provides us with a major opportunity to investigate new therapies that may have implications for emerging countries in South Asia and Africa.

Embedded within the WHRI is the Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine, which offers a modular programme in sports and exercise medicine for both doctors and physiotherapists, as well as a research programme including work on the legacy of the 2012 Olympics.

Our research students are registered for University of London degrees (MPhil/PhD) and work with internationally recognised members of academic staff. Studentships are offered from a variety of sources externally from major funders and grant awarding bodies and also internal College studentships.

Postgraduate resources

As part of our overall development we have worked to underpin our scientific environment with purpose-built space for core facilities including the Genome Centre, FACS, proteomics / mass spectroscopy, intravital microscopy and confocal microscopy suites.

We are installing small animal Positron Emission Tomography in our Biological Services Unit and have a GCP compliant Clinical Trials Unit. This unit has generated a research network of 120 general practices serving an east London population of 500,000. These facilities, combined with our state-of-the-art laboratories, funded by an extensive Science Research Infrastructure investment programme of £7m, provide an excellent environment for postgraduate studies.


There are internal PhD studentships available, which are funded by the School and awarded on a competitive basis. Holders of MRC research grants and fellowships are eligible for PhD studentships, and this funding is matched with an equivalent sum from the College. We also run a successful four-year MRes / PhD programme, currently funded by the MRC and the Medical School.

The Centre for Experimental Medicine and Rheumatology leads an Oliver Bird Studentship Scheme, in conjunction with King's College London. We are regularly awarded a number of studentships by such bodies as the ARC, BHF and Wellcome Trust.

Career opportunities

We offer a mentoring system whereby we encourage our research students to recognise when their research training would benefit from a period in another research institution so they may accrue new strengths.

At postdoctoral level, you will be offered career advice and support from senior members of the Institute and you will be strongly supported during fellowship applications. As evidence of this we have just secured a promising research fellowship for the MRC PhD student who discovered the association of WNK I with hypertension in BRIGHT and Graphic students to take this into functional studies jointly with Cambridge. Several other young scientists have been nurtured into fellowship awards.

We encourage you to develop your career either internally or by assisting you with international collaborators to further your opportunities both academically and commercially at national and international levels.

Entry requirements

Students with upper-second class (or better) BSc honours degrees or equivalent are eligible to apply for admission to research degrees.

For international students, please refer to the International Students section.

Research Areas

The William Harvey Research Institute has three central research themes: inflammation science, cardiovascular medicine and endocrine research.

  • The Inflammation Science group combines research in bone and joint, experimental medicine and rheumatology, and biochemical pharmacology.
  • Cardiovascular medicine groups together combine research into translational medicine and therapeutics, clinical pharmacology and microvascular research.

Inflammation Science

The Inflammation Science Strategy Group meetings, chaired by Professor Rod Flower FRS, ensure delivery of a co-ordinated and interactive research agenda. Researchers in this group have held numerous fellowships and grants, from Wellcome, ARC and the Multiple Sclerosis Society, among others. Our specific research themes are:

  • Annexin biology
    In particular: we conduct research into the role of annexins in glucocorticoid action; research on the identification and characterisation of the annexin receptor and its ability to modulate cell activation in various models of experimental inflammation; the role of annexin1 in T cell activation, and in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE).
  • Endogenous anti-inflammatory effectors (resolution of inflammation)
    Work on annexin and glucocorticoid biology has extended into analyses of other endogenous anti-inflammatory pathways. There is investigation into the biology of galectins in vascular inflammation. Research into the molecular and cellular mechanisms activated by melanocortin peptides as another exciting area for innovative anti-inflammatory drug discovery. And finally, studying anti-inflammatory actions of nuclear receptor agonists in vascular inflammation.
  • Latent cytokines
    Bone and Joint's primary research focus is the development and targeting of latent cytokines and other therapeutic compounds. This includes a study of the application of latent cytokines to treat unstable plaques in atherosclerosis, and an investigation into signalling pathways in T cells with particular regard to the contribution of lipid rafts. Translational research and stem cells in inflammatory disease research looks at developing a translational immunological research focusing upon analysis of the signalling defects in both T and B cells of patients with SLE. Specific areas of collaborative research interest include the regulation of cell adhesion by glucocorticoids, engineering of fusion proteins consisting of a human synovium-specific homing peptide and an anti-inflammatory cytokine for the targeted therapy of rheumatoid arthritis and the use of mesenchymal progenitor cells for joint tissue repair.
  • Inflammation in the Vasculature
    Success in characterising the roles of vascular smooth muscle cells in inflammatory responses of the blood vessel wall has led to further research into the role of PPAR, farnesoid X receptor and retinoid X receptors and their potential for therapeutic modulation. There are collaborative projects to target cytokines and platelet nuclear receptors in arthritis and with cardiologists at the Barts and The London Heart Attack Centre on platelet reactivity in acute myocardial infarction.

Microvascular Research

The Centre for Microvascular Pharmacology aims to investigate molecular and cellular events within the microcirculation in the context of inflammatory responses. Specifically, the group addresses the mechanisms that mediate and regulate leukocyte migration through venular walls by applying advanced imaging methodologies to the vasculature.

Cardiovascular Research

Research in this area extends from vascular biology, which shares considerable overlap with Inflammation Science, to cardiovascular genetics, clinical trials and stem cell research. Specific research topics are:

  • Endothelial cell biology
    Having established the effects of dietary polyphenols in regulating endothelial function, we are now developing novel approaches in biomarkers of cardiovascular disease. Work is also being carried out on the endothelium and its capacity to release vasodilators, and the putative identity of endothelium-derived hyperpolarising factor (EDHF), showing the important role of EDHF in blood pressure regulation. There is continued investigation into the role of kinin B1 and the kinin B1 receptor in stimulating CXCR5 and the role of sheer stress.
  • Genetics of cardiovascular disease
    The WHRI co-ordinates the MRC British Genetics of Hypertension (BRIGHT) study and has conducted the largest linkage-based genome screen in human hypertension, identifying four regions for essential hypertension and have refined this to a principal locus on chromosome 5.Our researchers have shown that single nucleotide polymorphisms and haplotypes in a serine threonine kinase (WNK1) are associated with essential hypertension, which could present a novel therapeutic target for hypertension. Our scientists have published a novel strategy for identifying linked covariate phenotypes, contributed to the first 2D scan in hypertension and we published the first genome-wide association scan for hypertension in Nature.
  • Cardiovascular clinical trials
    We has been represented on international steering groups for several major clinical trials that have significant implications for clinical practice in cardiovascular disease. In particular, the Anglo- Scandinavian Cardiac Outcomes Trial (ASCOT) (Pfizer, £2.02m) tested the influence of combinations of newer antihypertensives and lipid lowering agents upon cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. This study changed UK and international guidance on lipid lowering and NICE / British Hypertension Society guidance on hypertension management.
  • Cardiac stem cells
    We have developed innovative strategies for cardiac stem cell research and therapy, defining various aspects of behaviour of grafted cells in a cardiac environment including survival, proliferation, paracrine effects, differentiation and integration within the host myocardium. This complements our clinical programme evaluating adult stem cells for treating heart disease.


Developing on the internationally renowned expertise in clinical endocrinology established at St Bartholomew's Hospital over the last 40 years, basic endocrine research has been greatly stimulated by incorporation into WHRI and the provision of state-of-the-art laboratory space and facilities including confocal imaging. Close links with clinical research persist with a strong tradition of clinical academic training and major support from industry (eg Pfizer £1.5m unrestricted plus £1.2m NESTEGG study) and the Wellcome Trust and Research Councils. Specific research topics are:

  • Melanocortin receptors
    ACTH action and resistance has been a major focus of research in the group and they have defined the basis of ACTH receptor / melanocortin 2 receptor (MC2R) desensitisation and internalisation and have described the impairment of this phenomenon as a potential factor in adrenal tumour formation. Work discovering genes causing inherited forms of ACTH insensitivity has led to the successful identification of a new gene, MRAP, which encodes an accessory protein for the MC2R. Existence of MRAP was predicted from earlier work, and has broader implications for G protein-coupled receptor function in general. WHRI scientists have defined the transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation of the melanocortin 2 receptor in the differentiating adipocyte, identifying a novel role for PPAR and C / EBP and alternative splice site selection. This area has significant synergy with the inflammation research group.
  • Lipidology
    We work at the interface between endocrinology and cardiovascular research. Key areas include elucidating the genetics and the underlying biology of FCHL-lipid abnormalities; establishing roles of Sar1 Isoforms in lipid homeostasis; and homing in on the biochemical properties of a highly conserved, ancient, DUF (Domain of Unknown Function) protein which contributes to the synthesis of cholesterol and triglycerides and may play a role in metabolic syndrome.
  • Metabolism and endocrine disease
    Work has been extended on describing the role of ghrelin (the stomach-derived brain-gut peptide) in appetite regulation and obesity and has investigated the role of ghrelin and the cannabinoids in modulating AMP regulated protein kinase (AMPK) in the cell. We also researching the farnesoid X receptor and tumour suppressor activity in human pituitary tumours. The latter exemplifies the major research benefits derived from the extensive clinical endocrine activity conducted jointly between the WHRI and Barts and The London
    NHS Trust.
  • Growth genetics
    Work in paediatric endocrinology is being performed to define novel mechanisms of foetal and childhood growth failure including identification of pseudoexon activation as a new mechanism of disease and the role of IGFI in foetal growth failure. The NESTEGG aims to identify the major genetic influences on foetal and childhood growth failure. This study, coordinated from the WHRI, has completed collection in four European centres of 1,500 phenotyped children with foetal and / or childhood growth failure and their parents and is now in the genotyping phase of the project. This study has benefited from the Genome Centre and the expertise and teamwork developed in the MRC BRIGHT study.

Centre of Sports and Exercise Medicine

Staff research interests

Nicola Maffulli MD MS PhD FRCS(Orth)
Professor of Sports and Exercise Medicine and Centre Lead Sports and Exercise Medicine
Randomised trials and evidence-based musculoskeletal medicine, soft tissue injuries and tissue engineering.

Peter Malliaras BSc PGDip (stats) PhD
Clinical Senior Lecturer

Dylan Morrissey PhD MSc MMAC MCSP
Clinical Senior Lecturer
Movement and pathology (shoulder, knee, lumbar spine and Achilles tendon), evidence based pathways for musculoskeletal conditions, legacy of London 2012 Olympic game.

Further Information

Further information on postgraduate programmes and the area of expertise of members of staff can be found on our website:

Enquiries about postgraduate research programmes:
Dr Martin Carrier
Director of Graduate Studies
Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 2104/2218

Enquiries about postgraduate taught course programmes:
Dr Nina Ravic
Academic Manager for Postgraduate Studies
Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 3404

International students
Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 6530

Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry
The Admissions and Recruitment Office
Room CB02, Queens' Building
Mile End Road, London E1 4NS
Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 5533

Wolfson Institute


The Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine is made of up the following centres:

  • Centre for Environmental and Preventive Medicine
  • Cancer Research UK Centre for Epidemiology Mathematics and Statistics
  • The Centre for Psychiatry

Epidemiology, Preventive Medicine and Public Health Research

The Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine captures scientific opportunities arising from laboratory-based epidemiological and screening research into common diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and congenital malformations through integrating epidemiology and statistics with pathology and clinical medicine. The inclusion of the Centre for Psychiatry in this internationally renowned Institute reflects the importance of the public health implications of psychiatric disease.

The Wolfson Institute opened in 1991, comprising the existing Centre for Environmental and Preventive Medicine (CEPM - the Epidemiology Department of the Medical School) and the Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology and Medical Care Unit. In 2002, the Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Centre for Epidemiology, Mathematics and Statistics joined the Institute. In 2005, the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit joined CEPM and the Centre for Psychiatry joined the Institute as a third Centre. The Institute has about 150 staff whose research continues to make a significant impact on public health practice and advance the science of preventive medicine.

Much research is carried out in-house, but collaborative research also takes place with groups within the Medical School, other departments at Queen Mary, and more widely within and beyond the UK. We benefit from east London's diverse local population. Important public health initiatives have arisen from our research including:

  • limiting salt intake through proven links with blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes
  • fortification of flour - lack of folic acid shown to be a major cause of the serious birth defects spina bifida and anencephaly
  • antenatal screening for Down's syndrome, now used worldwide
  • prohibition of smoking in public places - environmental tobacco smoke being a cause of lung cancer and heart disease
  • development of cervical screening policy and development of a vaccine for HPV
  • prevention and treatment of breast cancer showing the benefits first of tamoxifen and later anastrozole
  • prevention of cardiovascular disease by pharmaco-prevention and development of the Polypill
  • a greater understanding of pathways to mental health care across ethnic groups
  • greater protection for schools against the effects of aircraft noise on reading comprehension in children.

We welcome postgraduate students and visiting research fellows to undertake research in our areas of interest. Research students are registered for University of London degrees (MPhil/PhD/MD) and work under the supervision of members of academic staff. Students may receive financial support (research studentships) offered by the research councils or medical charities. A limited number of College studentships are also available.

Postgraduate resources

With the largest group of medical statisticians in the School of Medicine and Dentistry and a number of research groups within each Centre, the Institute is able to offer a wide variety of subjects for postgraduate study. You will have access to our powerful computing facilities, extensive databases (managed by Oracle and Sequel-Server) and SAS and STATA, IT support excellent laboratory facilities and our specialist reference library. You can be involved in local, national and international research networks and increasingly national and international consortia. Regular seminar series are organised at Centre, Institute and School level.


Our scholarship information changes every year. Recent awards have been from Cancer Research UK, MRC, Research Advisory Board (Barts and The London Charity). For home and eligible EU students with a good first degree (first or upper second) these will all cover tuition fees and maintenance. There are also some College studentships, for which international students are also eligible. There are now a number of studentships available from the East London NHS Foundation Trust for their staff for programmes run by the Centre for Psychiatry.

Career opportunities

Many students pursuing further study do so to seek professional development and/or improve clinical practice. Students who take the MSc/Diploma in Psychological Therapies or Transcultural and Mental Healthcare have come from mental health agencies or the NHS and find that the qualification assists them in promotion to case-, ward- or team managers. Others find our programmes useful in going on to apply for a PhD.

Entry requirements

Students with upper-second class (or better) BSc honours degrees or equivalent are eligible to apply for admission to research degrees.

For international students, please refer to the International Students section. [new window]

Research areas

Centre for Enviromental and Preventive Medicine

The Centre for Environmental and Preventive Medicine (CEPM) is one of the leading Centres in its field. Its work is focused on preventive medicine (with special attention to cancer and cardiovascular diseases) and on developing novel methods for screening and solving the statistical problems using many tests in combination. We run large-scale randomised prevention trials and epidemiological studies into the causation of disease. For example, there are major trials in screening for Helicobacter pylori infection in the prevention of stomach cancer, and screening and treatment for hypothyroidism in pregnancy (assessing childhood intellectual development). Trials to evaluate the Polypill in reducing cardiovascular disease are planned and about to start.

The Tobacco Dependence Research Unit within CEPM operates a large smokers' clinic, providing anamplen clinical base to support its extensive research programme. Here there are opportunities for postgraduate projects concerning both behavioural and pharmacological approaches to understanding and treating nicotine dependence and also to health behaviours and weight management.

Cancer Research UK Centre for Epidemiology Mathematics and Statistics

The CRUK Centre for Epidemiology Mathematics and Statistics focuses mainly on clinical trials and epidemiology in the treatment and prevention of cancer. We have particular strengths in the chemoprevention and treatment of breast cancer with our IBIS-II trial, cervical screening and development of HPV vaccines, colorectal cancer (one-off sigmoidoscopy and prostate cancer (managed by watchful waiting). We lead a £4.7m Policy Research Unit dedicated to research on cancer screening, symptom awareness and early diagnosis. We are involved in the development of new mathematical and statistical methods in the study of risk factors for cancer and projecting their future incidence and mortality. Our Clinical Trials Prevention Unit is the only trials unit in the UK with particular expertise in cancer prevention and screening. Much of the research here is collaborative, both nationally and internationally. There are opportunities for postgraduate projects in many of these areas.

The Centre for Psychiatry

The Centre for Psychiatry has three distinct research groupings:

  • the Epidemiological and Cultural Psychiatry group focuses on the association of physical and social environmental factors and ethnicity with common mental disorders and affective disorders (eg RANCH trial of aircraft noise and childhood learning). It also has an international reputation for cultural psychiatry and health services research (geographical mobility as a risk factor for mental distress). This group runs the popular MScs in Mental Health: Psychological Therapies/Transcultural Mental Healthcare.
  • the Forensic Mental Health group has been studying violence in individuals who pose a risk to the public and is using multilevel modelling to assess the accuracy of screening methods to identify those who carry exceptional risks.
  • the Social and Community Psychiatry group is involved in developing concepts and methods for assessing treatment processes and outcomes, evaluation of mental healthcare and developing and testing innovative complex interventions. It has been successful in gaining European funding, with many projects addressing more than one area of study.

All three of our Centres are involved in statistical research, covering a wide range of methodologies and applications. These will include epidemiology, demography, clinical trials, longitudinal studies, health screening, infection control, birth weight and gestation, systematic reviews, cluster randomisation, meta-analysis, logistic regression, survival analysis, multi-level modelling, and models of disease progression.

Further Information

Further information on postgraduate programmes and the area of expertise of members of staff can be found on our website:

International students
Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 6530

Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry
The Admissions and Recruitment Office
Room CB02
Queens' Building
Mile End Road
London E1 4NS
Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 5533

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