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Graduate School of Life Sciences

An inspiring educational experience in a unique environment

Studying at Cambridge


Developmental Biology

Wellcome Trust 4 Year PhD Programme in Developmental Mechanisms

5 Studentships Starting October 2017

Application Deadline 6 Jan 2017 Interviews to be held 23/24 January 2017

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. Cambridge has a strong track record of research at the interface between the physical and biological sciences, and we have enlisted members of the Departments of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, and Physics as co-supervisors for students wishing to undertake projects at the developmental biology/physical sciences interface. Choose from over 40 host laboratories and the whole range of experimental approaches and model organisms.

Programme Outline During the first year students will:

    • perform laboratory rotations in three different participating groups working on at least two different experimental organisms;
    • learn fundamental aspects of developmental 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 2017, 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.

Collaborating Institutions

    • Department of Biochemistry
    • Department of Genetics
    • Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience
    • Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute
    • Department of Zoology

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

Welcome to the Graduate School of Life Sciences

We are the largest centre for research and professional training in the Life Sciences in the UK, offering a very special experience to a community of around 2000 graduate students across departments within the School of the Biological Sciences, School of Clinical Medicine and eleven University Partner Institutes in the Cambridge area.

Every year some of the world's brightest and most determined students are attracted by the opportunity to carry out research projects with renowned scientists in a vibrant, multidisciplinary environment at one of the world's most respected research-led universities.

The School co-ordinates funding opportunities within the Life Sciences for their postgraduate education, as well as ensuring students receive the highest quality supervision and training.