Institute for Regeneration and Repair

New kind of PhD to give future researchers an edge

6 January 2020

Artist's impression of cells

A new PhD programme that aims to also teach engagement skills in future medical researchers is looking for its first intake of students.

The four-year Medical Sciences and Translational Research PhD with integrated study in Engagement for Impact is now open for applications.

This PhD programme is the first of its kind. Its students will combine a medical science or translational research PhD project with a bespoke selection of taught, MSc level courses in science communication, public engagement, patient involvement, data design and informatics, integrated throughout the 4 year PhD.

Professor Donald J. Davidson, a research group leader at the Centre for Inflammation Research, and Dr Elizabeth Stevenson, who leads the University’s MSc in Science Communication and Public Engagement, have led the development of the new PhD programme.


Science research not communicated is incomplete, and research conducted without awareness of needs risks being misdirected. We need to do more to consider the potential impact of our work and to engage the wider world in our research. This new PhD programme is designed to achieve this, by equipping future research scientists as agents of change, with the skills they need to engage right from the beginning of their careers.

Professor Donald J. DavidsonChair of Host Defence & Inflammation Biology and Centre Academic Lead for Public Engagement

This new PhD programme is designed to provide MSc level science communication and public engagement teaching integrated into an internationally-excellent medical sciences research project. Students on this programme will develop their engagement for impact skills as a core component of being a medical sciences researcher. These students will deliver key scientific outputs; discovering disease mechanisms, developing and implementing new therapies. Uniquely, in parallel, students will develop assessed Engagement for Impact portfolios, bringing together tangible engagement outputs directly relevant to their PhD research. These will be developed around a focus on engaging the public, community, patients or policymaker audiences that may be impacted by the possible long term outcomes of their specific research project.


We believe that this represents a step-change in the approach to developing engaged researchers for the future and offers an innovative new PhD experience at the University of Edinburgh College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine.

Dr Elizabeth StevensonMSc Programme Director

The University already offers an MSc programme for individuals who have chosen to work in science communication or research engagement. This new PhD programme is designed to provide excellent engagement teaching and opportunities for practice alongside a challenging science research project for people keen to pursue a career in research. 

The vision is to train a generation of researchers equipped to deliver scientific excellence that solves and address real-world problems, complemented with excellence in application of engagement and impact skills that will give researchers an edge in their future careers.

Find out more about the PhD programme