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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

Details on our 2017 studentships and funding will be provided here from October 2016.

Eligibility criteria and applying

Details on our 2017 studentships and the application process will be provided here from October 2016.

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

Details on the shortlisting and interview process for the 2017 scheme will be provided here from October 2016.

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 can provide you with additional opportunities to gain experience in many of these sectors.

Some of our DTP projects involve placements in industrial settings during the PhD, while 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.

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

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.