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School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences

Changes in ADHD from childhood to adulthood and physical health outcomes

Research environment

The School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences at Queen Mary is one of the UK’s elite research centres. We offer a multi-disciplinary research environment and have approximately 150 PhD students working on projects in the biological and psychological sciences. Our students have access to a variety of research facilities supported by experienced staff, as well as a range of student support services.

Training and development

Our PhD students become part of Queen Mary’s Doctoral College which provides training and development opportunities, advice on funding, and financial support for research. Our students also have access to a Researcher Development Programme designed to help recognise and develop key skills and attributes needed to effectively manage research, and to prepare and plan for the next stages of their career.

The Department of Psychology, SBBS, and Queen Mary, provide a environment for high quality training. Within Psychology, knowledge exchange and collaboration is supported via initiatives for all students and staff.  Psychology organises weekly Departmental seminars where external speakers, staff, and students present their work to undergraduate and postgraduate students and staff. Supervisors hold regular lab meeting with PhD students and postdocs as formal space for mentoring (e.g., students learn to design, execute, and troubleshoot projects) and to encourage informal mentoring between students.

PhD students are given the opportunity to co-supervise undergraduate projects aligned with their own research to develop management skills. Within SBBS, there is a 100% 4-year completion rate for PhD students, reflecting the emphasis on milestones and training support for students. 

Project description

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnosed in childhood is associated with a two-fold increased risk of premature death in adulthood, and ADHD diagnosed in adulthood with a four-fold increased risk. While ADHD was once thought of as only a childhood disorder, we now know it can remit, persist or even onset in adulthood, affecting about 2.5% of the adult population.

This studentship aims to understand the link between change in ADHD over development and physical health, with a focus on how different longitudinal trajectories of ADHD over the lifespan affect risk of adverse health outcomes. This studentship will investigate, across several population-based cohorts: (1) How are different ADHD longitudinal courses (remission, persistence, adult-onset) associated with physical health; (2) What are mediating factors between ADHD and poor health (e.g. smoking, obesity, inflammation); and (3) How do twins discordant for ADHD (one with ADHD, other without) differ in their health; this controls for genetics and shared environment to clarify whether ADHD itself, or other general factors (e.g. low SES), causes poor health.

These research questions have important implications for clinical practice. If a delay in ADHD diagnosis (e.g. first diagnosis in adulthood) is associated with poorer health, this emphasizes the need for early identification in childhood. If higher BMI is a pathway by which ADHD leads to poorer health, comprehensive ADHD treatment could include promoting healthy eating. If a twin with ADHD has poorer health than their unaffected identical twin, this suggests ADHD may have a direct effect on health. The longitudinal nature of the cohorts examined in this studentship allows for better understanding of causal pathways, leading to improved clinical interventions. This studentship collaborates across different QMUL areas, including the SBBS Department of Psychology, and the Centre for Psychiatry at the Wolfson Institute of Preventative Medicine.


This studentship is open to Mexican students applying for CONACyT funding. CONACyT will provide a contribution towards your tuition fees each year and Queen Mary will waive the remaining fee. CONACyT will pay a stipend towards living costs to its scholars.

Eligibility and applying

Applications are invited from outstanding candidates with or expecting to receive a first or upper-second class honours degree (a masters degree is desirable, but not essential) in an area relevant to the project such as Psychology, Psychiatry, Medicine, Public Health or Epidemiology. 

Applicants are required to provide evidence of their English language ability. Please see our English language requirements page for details.

Applicants will need to complete an online application form by this date to be considered, including a CV, personal statement and qualifications. Shortlisted applicants will be invited for a formal interview by the project supervisor. Those who are successful in their application for our PhD programme will be issued with an offer letter which is conditional on securing a CONACyT scholarship (as well as any academic conditions still required to meet our entry requirements).

Once applicants have obtained their offer letter from Queen Mary they should then apply to CONACyT for the scholarship as per their requirements and deadlines, with the support of the project supervisor.

Only applicants who are successful in their application to CONACyT can be issued an unconditional offer and enrol on our PhD programme.

Apply Online

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