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MRC Doctoral Training Partnership

Our Medical Research Council (MRC) Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) encourages the pairing of novel multidisciplinary PhD research with the next generation of leaders in health and biomedical provision

We provide a framework of postgraduate research training that supports the development and career progression of MRC-funded PhD students.

Through specialised training over three and half years, the MRC DTP equips early-career researchers across a range of disciplines to apply their expertise into unmet healthcare areas of UK and global importance.

We aim to deliver this through:

  • prioritising PhD research that addresses key MRC priorities;
  • embedding cross-cutting skills across the DTP to enhance trainee employability (eg informatics, in vivo, computation);
  • hosting cohort activities to benefit all MRC PhD students and encourage interaction;
  • supporting PhD students to raise awareness of their research through external conferences, digital media and networking events;
  • fostering interdisciplinary research through the grouping of biological, computational, material, physical, chemical and social scientists.

Research opportunities span the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health and the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences.

We have existing studies in areas as diverse as neuroimmunity, circadian regulation and the effects of exercise on early psychosis. We have more than 50 students across our MRC DTP community at Manchester.

Training and support

Your training will be led through our groupings of interdisciplinary supervisory teams, often comprising different research groups and settings.

All of our research environments give you access to outstanding facilities, technical and experimental support and fellow early career researchers.

You will be encouraged to use the mentoring and guidance provided across our DTP cohort, with final year students acting as peer mentors for our new intake each year.

Our graduate training programme allows you to come together with PhD students from our diverse research settings and benefit from career-focused seminars in areas such as presentational skills, publications, public engagement and getting the most from research conferences.

The Faculty’s Doctoral Academy represents early career researchers and will further support your development. Opportunities to share research ideas and advice are therefore available on a national level as well as within Manchester.

You will also have the opportunity to attend specific training events tailored to areas of greatest importance to aspiring biomedical and health services researchers.

There is an exciting opportunity to benefit from our ‘Pathways to Impact’ funding scheme at the end of your PhD. This will provide you with additional support in bridging the transition into the next phase of your career.

This could form NHS/industrial internships, policy placements, or structured lab rotations depending on your individual career ambitions.

Research themes

We offer PhD opportunities across a range of biomedical, clinical and health services areas with focus on three over-arching themes:

  • Early detection/diagnosis
  • Understanding mechanisms of disease
  • Therapeutic interventions

Training within each theme embeds 'cross-cutting' skills alongside those central to the research. Examples of cross-cutting skills often include:

  • Advanced in vivo sciences

Research skills training where a major component involves developing and applying sophisticated physiological, immunological, pharmacological, behavioural, observation or experimentation in whole, living non-human animals in order to understand normal and abnormal biological/psychological mechanisms. The research project should provide hands on in vivo skills training, including (but not limited to) surgical and pre-clinical skills, complex experiments, novel imaging technologies and/or other innovative techniques.

  • Interdisciplinary skills

At all interfaces including chemical/physical/engineering, social/economical and clinical, including for example imaging, health economics, antimicrobial resistance and translational medicine.

  • Quantitative skills

Mathematics, statistics, computation, developing digital excellence as applied to a variety of data sources (form 'omics' to health records).

Cohort activity

You and your fellow DTP students form a cohort of trainees, encouraging peer support, sharing of methods and techniques and the opportunity to receive feedback and assessment from fellow students. Such support is invaluable throughout a PhD when it is not uncommon to occasionally wonder if you are on track or addressing your research question in the most appropriate way.

The MRC DTP offers training events across the cohort each year. These are aimed at various stages of the PhD experience from induction right through to thesis planning and securing your first postdoctoral role.

We also have a graduate society, which you can become a member of. The society is led by students, offering both academic and social events to further support interaction and a sense of community.

You will be encouraged to influence our training provision by consulting upon seminars and workshops that would be of greatest benefit to you.

Studentships and funding

Projects  for entry in September 2017 are available on the MRC DTP projects page.

Online applications should be submitted no later than Friday 18 November 2016, 5pm.

Postgraduate Research programmes commencing in September 2017

We are pleased that the Department for Education has now confirmed that EU students applying for university places in England in 2017/18 will continue to be eligible for student loans and grants, and entitled to home fee status for the duration of their course, even past the point that the UK leaves the EU.

Therefore, students wishing to undertake a PGR programme will be assigned the ‘home’ fee status for the duration of their programme.

See: Funding support for EU students

Eligibility criteria and applying

Projects for September 2017 are now being advertised. You can view the projects here.

Online applications should be submitted no later than Friday 18 November 2016, 5pm.


Competition for these studentships is extremely high, so ensure you submit your online application in time, and make contact with potential supervisors directly. You may contact a Supervisor before submitting your application if you wish, but you will need to submit an online application before the closing date in order to be considered.

Click for information on how to apply.

On the online application form, select MRC DTP PhD Programme.  You can select more than one MRC DTP project/supervisor on one single application, but if you are considering other funded students (ie BBSRC, Wellcome Trust) then you need to submit separate applications for these schemes.

First of all, decide on the projects from the list below that are most relevant to your research interests. You may apply for up to three projects of interest on your application form. At this point, you are strongly encouraged to make direct contact with potential project supervisors to discuss their project and to arrange a meeting during October-December 2016. It is your responsibility to arrange meetings with Supervisors – if you are invited to an interview day, this is dictated by supervisor nominations, so you are unlikely to get nominated by a supervisor unless you have made contact with them, in addition to submitting an online application.

The University will be holding a Postgraduate Research Programmes Open Day on Wednesday 2 November 2016. At this event, there will be chance to come and talk to us about the MRC DTP. Therefore, if you are considering the Programme (and others) it would be worthwhile you attending. It would be a good opportunity for you to arrange to talk with prospective supervisors that day if you are coming from outside of Manchester. You should arrange any meetings with supervisors directly. Full information/registration details for the Open Day can be found here: University open days.

Minimum requirements for entry

Minimum entry requirements include: Candidates must:

  • be UK/EU nationals
  • be resident in the EU
  • holding (or due to obtain) qualifications in a relevant subject at the level of, or equivalent to, a good honours degree (ie a first or upper-second class honours degree)

Qualifications (or a combination of qualifications and experience) which demonstrate equivalent ability and attainment can also be considered.

For example, a less than sufficient first degree may be enhanced to meet the requirements by the acquisition of a master’s degree to enhance the first degree, e.g. from lower second to upper second. A related master’s degree is an advantage.

Shortlisting and interviews

Following submission of your formal online application and meetings with potential supervisors, we will confirm with shortlisted candidates directly before Christmas if they are invited to attend a formal panel interview.

Panel interviews will be held in Manchester on Wednesday 11 January and Friday 13 January 2017.  During the panel interview you will be required to give a short presentation on your research experience or the project you are applying to.  If you have any questions about applications, please contact or the Recruitment Manager Jessica Bowler.

Next destinations and wider MRC opportunities

Our MRC DTP students progress beyond their PhDs into a variety of positions and areas. Typical destinations include academic fellowships (MRC, Wellcome Trust, NIHR), clinical training, industrial research, health services consultancy and policy, medical writing and teaching.

The MRC and DTP provide additional opportunities to gain experience in many of these sectors. Some of our DTP projects involve placements in industrial settings during the PhD, whilst the MRC operate a successful Policy Internship Placement with the Academy of Medical Sciences which is open each year for DTP students to apply to.

The annual Max Perutz Science Writing Award is a national MRC-led competition aiming to encourage and recognise outstanding written communication among MRC PhD students. The competition challenges entrants to write an 800-word article for the general public answering the question: 'Why does my research matter?'

In 2015 University of Manchester MRC DTP students secured both the first prize and commendations in the Max Perutz competition.

Examples of current DTP projects

  • The role of the AKR1C3 pathway in endometrial cancer and endometriosis
  • Investigation of a role for cancer stem-like cells (CSCs) in endocrine resistance in breast cancer
  • Understanding the development of diabetic neuropathy
  • Imaging immune cell biology; interactions between dendritic cells and T cells
  • Understanding the links between perceptions of sleep and suicidality in those who are depressed
  • Understanding how alterations in metabolism induced by iron toxicity/overload regulate inflammation
  • The role of web based information on help seeking of those worried about lung cancer prior to diagnosis
  • Neuroimmune education of monocyte function in disease
  • Dissecting how effector T cell responses are controlled in vivo within tissues during infection
  • Developing a new class of anti-amyloid experimental therapeutics in diabetes
  • Long-term effects of prenatal hypoxia on cardiomyocyte function
  • Engineered T-cell therapy of breast cancer
  • Understanding the mechanisms of atrial alternans in disease and its relationship to cellular remodelling
  • Heritability and family-based GWAS analyses to discover novel lipidomic biomarkers of cardiovascular disease
  • Circadian mechanisms regulating pulmonary fibrosis; new therapeutic opportunities
  • Exercise, clocks and depression
  • Role of periodontal disease in modulating inflammation and outcome after stroke
  • Bacteriophages of gram positive bacteria: gateways to infection control
  • Role of ABC transporters in hair follicle stem cell protection from chemotherapy-induced damage

Summer Research Experience Placements

Summer 2017

Each year we offer undergraduate students from across the UK the opportunity to undertake a research experience placement at The University of Manchester funded through the MRC DTP. Placements will last for up to 10 weeks and a maintenance stipend of £200 per week will be provided. 


Students should be in the middle years of their first degree and be registered for a basic science (including mathematics and engineering) or veterinary degree at a UK university (Home/EU status only). Applicants should be expected to obtain a first or upper second class honours degree. Preference will be given to students who wish to use the placement to find out more about their suitability and aptitude for further research, particularly if the project is in an area of science different from their main subject area.

Please note international students are not eligible for this scheme.

How to apply

Projects will be advertised here in early November 2016 alongside the application form. The deadline for student applications will be Friday 2nd December.

Contact us

Any queries can be sent to

Further information

Further details on MRC DTP studentship funding, eligibility and opportunities can be found on the MRC website. Any questions relating to the University of Manchester MRC DTP can be directed to Isabella Darbyshire.