Graduate Research & Training
UKRI MRC Human Genetics Unit

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

Applications now closed.

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 15 available projects to choose from that cover the research expertise across the MRC Human Genetics Unit. Projects for MRC HGU Quantitative Scientist PhD students are also available to successful applicants; some quantitative projects can be adapted to provide stronger wet lab components.

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 (shared with MRC HGU Quantitative Scientist PhD students)

First 6 months: students participate in structured teaching covering key topics in areas such as genome regulation, disease mechanisms, disease models 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 biological or biomedical sciences. Applicants with UK or international degrees are welcome to apply.  We are seeking motivated students excited by new opportunities who are keen to engage in high quality biomedical research and make new discoveries.

Applicants from a quantitative background with a 1st class or 2.1 degree or a Masters in physics, mathematics, statistics, engineering, computer science, bioinformatics or similar should follow the application instructions on the MRC HGU PhD projects for Quantitative Scientists website.

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 6 studentships are available to start in September 2023 for outstanding applicants with a stipend of £19,700 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. Closing date: 9th January 2023.

For informal enquiries or concerns about eligibility please contact Ian Adams (


Example projects (shared with MRC HGU Quantitative Scientist PhD students):