MRC Human Genetics Unit
Medical Research Council Human Genetics Unit

MRC four-year International PhD programme: Human Genetics, Genomics and Disease

Closed now

Applications are invited from outstanding UK, EU and international candidates to join an MRC funded 4-year multi-disciplinary PhD programme in Human Genetics, Genomics and Disease at the MRC Human Genetics Unit (HGU), part of the Institute of Genetics and Cancer at the University of Edinburgh.

To understand how our genomes work to control the function of molecules, cells and tissues in people and populations we need to combine research in multiple disciplines. To achieve this our PhD programme harnesses strengths in the latest computational and experimental technologies and relates fundamental research to human disease. There are over 20 available projects to choose from (further project information to follow), for 8 successful candidates, that cover the research expertise across the MRC Human Genetics Unit.

We are committed to high quality training, mentorship and research excellence to prepare the next generation of scientists to tackle the most challenging questions underpinning health and disease. This will enable you to think critically, undertake mechanistic research and make new discoveries.

Programme structure

First 6 months: students participate in structured teaching covering key topics in areas such as genome regulation, disease mechanisms and biomedical genomics. This is combined with computational and statistical training and a journal club. At the same time students participate in 2 mini-projects to experience different laboratory or computational environments.

Subsequent years: Students develop one of the initial projects into a PhD project for the remaining 3.5 years.

Who should apply?

Applicants should have a 1st class or 2.1 degree or a Masters in any relevant discipline including biosciences, chemistry, physics, mathematics or computer science. Importantly we are seeking motivated students excited by new opportunities who are keen to discover new disciplines and work across multiple fields.

Why Edinburgh?  

Edinburgh University is consistently rated amongst the world’s best universities. We are a major center of biomedical research and have strong collaborations to other disciplines including informatics, mathematics, chemistry and physics, providing an exciting environment for ground breaking multi-disciplinary research projects. Edinburgh has often been voted as the UK city offering the highest quality of life and is renowned for its affordability and rich cultural life.

Application procedure

Up to 10 studentships are available to start in September 2021 for outstanding applicants with a stipend of £18,100 p/a.  You should hold at least an upper second-class degree in a relevant subject and comply with English language requirements (see application page).  Applications are open to all individuals irrespective of nationality or country of residence.


We are organising a PG Open Day on Monday 9th November at 11am, further information can be found at:

For informal enquiries or concerns about eligibility please contact Nick Gilbert (