Postgraduate study
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

Precision Medicine PhD

Awards: PhD

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Precision Medicine

I have the fortune of being in contact with eminent professors and researchers, learning from them and developing cutting-edge tools. Hence, [the PhD] is an excellent way of expanding my knowledge and establishing new connections.

Jose Bernal PhD Precision Medicine

This is an MRC Doctoral Training Programme (DTP) in Precision Medicine and a collaboration between the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Precision medicine is a transformational approach to disease treatment and prevention, focusing on identifying which strategy will be effective for which patients, based on genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. Put most simply, it means giving the right treatment to the right patient at the right time. To do this it integrates evidence from advanced data on myriad clinical samples with the individual genomics, e-record, imaging and other data-rich -omic parameters to enable discovery and tailored therapies.

There is a huge unmet need to train a generation of scientists who can excel in state-of-the-art interrogation of genetic and genomic information, developing and utilising analytical methodologies to provide evidence to improve health and well-being. We aim to train the next generation of research leaders, experts in informatics-based approaches and biomedical technologies, who are thus able to unravel disease mechanisms and devise new therapies. We aim to train such researchers to realise the full potential of Precision Medicine.

Our students will learn to develop quantitative research creativity for use in their future careers in fast moving disciplines, as biomedical science embraces new data-rich opportunities. Our collaborative DTP will provide state-of-the-art training in informatics, data analytics, genetics, genomics, epidemiology, clinical populations, clinical tissue and ‘liquid biopsy’ interrogation and molecular pathology. Hypotheses generated, including novel disease mechanisms and drivers, may be tested in the most appropriate disease models.

Uniquely, our DTP offers:

  1. PhD with integrated study - training in Precision Medicine towards becoming a T-shaped researcher (broad in outlook while studying in depth)
  2. cutting-edge learning in both medicine and computation
  3. vast data assets emerging from the infrastructure and facilities within the world-leading training environments provided by the three partners, Edinburgh, Glasgow and the Karolinska

The University of Edinburgh is internationally leading in basic-to-clinical translational research. We have an outstanding record of interdisciplinary research and a longstanding strategic commitment to the concept of one medicine/one health. The College will continue to play a world-leading role in research to advance human and animal health and food security.

The College’s ‘One Medicine, One Health’ strategy is built upon the integration of research from bench to bedside and from process to population. This is delivered by the UK’s only unified College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, consolidating research in multidisciplinary research centres, clustering these centres within contemporary research institutes located next to hospitals on three major translational research campuses, linking with research excellence in the other Colleges, committing to recruitment and retention of the most talented early career researchers, and developing the culture of translation of research to maximise impact on health and wealth.

  • [DTP]: Doctoral Training Programme

Our goal is to develop a cohort of outstanding young scientists who can deliver the innovation of precision medicine. We will ground our research in an outstanding resource of data, much of it unique to the partnership and being curated in innovative ways. Projects will harness phenotypic data assets derived from Scotland’s outstanding electronic health record assets, providing the ability to track 5 million people across primary, secondary, tertiary and social care since 1980. The ability to link these deep phenotypes with consented cohort data gives an outstanding environment to train the next generation of PhD students to pursue bold, ambitious and enterprising research programmes in precision medicine.

The DTP will focus on research that has high impact and transformational. For instance:

  • in molecular pathology: giving us radically new ways to understand the mechanism of disease
  • in phenotype/genotype studies: analytical methods to optimise the transformation of genetic, genomic, and biological data into diagnostics, predictive models and therapeutics

This step-change in PhD training will be addressed by the partnership of the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm. Together we aim to offer our students:

  • integration within a transformational research environment
  • training courses including advanced quantitative and computational methodology
  • access to unique data assets

Our inter-Institutional partnership combines advances in large-scale high throughput data with deep phenotyping of important patient cohorts and whole populations with e-health records at scale.

Underpinning the DTP is an array of world-leading computational methods and know-how each of which is placed in its own fast-moving technological context.

  • [DTP]: Doctoral Training Programme

Our DTP will embed researcher training within a unique environment that already supports a significant number of complementary activities. A specific opportunity for the DTP is for Scotland-wide and UK-wide collaborative programmes.

The University's Schools of Informatics and Medicine benefit increasingly from Edinburgh’s core membership of the Alan Turing Institute, which aims to drive ever-higher research quality and translation to practice.

The University of Edinburgh also hosts institutes, which aim to harness health data for patient and public benefit by setting the international standard for the safe and secure use of electronic patient records and other population-based datasets for research purposes.

The Institute's Edinburgh hub is co-located with the ESRC Administrative Data Research Centre, alongside NHS governance and a number of UK-leading informatics and bioinformatics-related enterprises at Edinburgh's BioQuarter site. The BioQuarter - immediately adjacent to Edinburgh’s major teaching hospital and major medical research institutes (including four current MRC Centres) - brings together thousands of researchers and analysts from many disciplines, utilising world class academic and clinical research facilities, to enable collaboration and accelerate the development of new drugs, diagnostic tools and medical devices.

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 59 in each component.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than five years old* at the beginning of your programme of study. (*Revised 05 March 2024 to extend degree validity to five years.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

Read our general information on tuition fees and studying costs:

Successful applicants who meet all necessary eligibility requirements will receive a fully funded studentship including:

  • Payment of annual tuition fees.
  • Stipend for each of the 4 years of the PhD (based on UKRI minimum doctoral rate).
  • Research Training Support Grant of 5K per annum.
  • Annual Travel Grant of £300.

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • The Usher Institute
  • Nine Edinburgh Bioquarter
  • 9 Little France Road
  • Little France
  • Edinburgh
  • EH16 4UX

Decisions will be made on applications by 30th April.

All applicants should receive confirmation on the outcome of their applications in the following week.

(Revised 26 October 2023 to update the decision deadline)

You are required to apply for a specific project. Please include details of the project you are applying to in Section 4 of the application. Please also upload an up to date CV with your application. Additionally, we require applicants to complete a recruitment form and include it with their application.

As you are applying to a specific project, you are not required to submit a research proposal as part of your application.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • The Usher Institute
  • Nine Edinburgh Bioquarter
  • 9 Little France Road
  • Little France
  • Edinburgh
  • EH16 4UX