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Developmental Biology

Wellcome Trust 4 Year PhD Programme in Developmental Mechanisms


5 Studentships Starting October 2015

Application Deadline is 9th January 2015

Interviews to be held 26/27th January 2015


Developmental Biology is a remarkably cross-­disciplinary area of biomedical research that spans traditional departmental boundaries and many different technologies, such as molecular biology, genetics, cell biology, imaging and bioinformatics.  

This field is increasingly significant in the era of readily available genome sequences, because functional studies of development are essential to decipher the roles of many genes, and will be invaluable if we are to reap the benefits of this wealth of new information. A major challenge now is to find more powerful, systematic and quantitative ways of investigating how this genetic information is translated into morphogenetic instructions, and to analyse how these instructions generate and are modulated by the forces that shape tissues and organs. Our PhD Programme embraces this challenge and offers a powerful opportunity to explore the mechanisms underlying key developmental processes.  

Why Cambridge

The University of Cambridge is exceptional in the depth and diversity of its research in Developmental Biology, and has a dynamic and interactive research community that is ranked amongst the foremost in the world.   By bringing together members of four different Departments and the Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute, this 4-year PhD Programme will enable you to take advantage of the University's exceptional strength in this area.  Choose from over 40 host laboratories and the whole range of experimental approaches and model organisms.

One major goal of the programme is to stimulate interdisciplinary projects at the interface between the physical sciences and developmental biology, and collaborative projects with co-supervisors in physical sciences are encouraged. Although most students will have a biology degree, we will also consider applications from students with a physical sciences/mathematical background with some training in Biology.

To this end, part of the first year core course will be run jointly with the Physics of Biology PhD programme, and collaborative projects with co-­‐supervisors in Physical Sciences are encouraged. Although most students will have a Biology degree, we will also consider applications from students with a Physical Sciences/mathematical background with some training in Biology.  

Programme Outline

During the first year student will:-

  • perform laboratory rotations in three different participating groups working on at least two different experimental organisms
  • learn fundamental aspect of development mechanisms through a series of teaching modules, and experimental approaches sessions given by leaders in the field
  • take an Impacts and Communications course that puts developmental research in context
  • learn a variety of techniques such as advanced imaging.

Students are expected to choose a laboratory for their thesis research by June 2015, and will then write a research proposal for the PhD.  Together with three rotation reports and a review essay, this proposal will be assessed for the MPhil degree.

For further information on the programme and participating departments please click here

For details on how to apply, please go to