Postgraduate study

Precision Medicine

Awards: PhD

Study modes: Full-time

Programme website: Precision Medicine

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

Precision medicine is an emerging, 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. 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, expert 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. training in Precision Medicine towards becoming a T-shaped researcher (broad in outlook while studying in depth)
  2. flexibility in training provision: a 3.5 year PhD for students with a relevant masters degree and a 4 year PhD for those with a high BSc (Hons), with a suite of bespoke training courses, informed by individual assessment of training needs
  3. cutting-edge learning in both medicine and computation
  4. 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 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.

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
PhDPrecision Medicine4 YearsFull-timeProgramme structure 2017/18
PhDPrecision Medicine4 YearsFull-timeProgramme structure 2017/18

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 in advanced quantitative and computational methodology
  • access 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.

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 hosts the MRC Farr Institute, which aims 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.

This MRC DTP is funded jointly with University of Glasgow.

The list of projects is available at the following link:

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent. This programme is only available to UK/EU residents.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

All applicants must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of their English language ability:

  • an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 (at least 6.0 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT: total 92 (at least 20 in each module)
  • PTE(A): total 61 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections; the "Enabling Skills" sections are not considered)
  • CAE and CPE: total 176 (at least 169 in each module)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components

Degrees taught and assessed in English must be no more than two and a half years old at the beginning of your degree programme. Language tests must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Academic Technology Approval Scheme

If you are not an EU, EEA or Swiss national, you may need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme clearance certificate in order to study this programme.

  • Director, Postgraduate Research, CMVM, Philippa Saunders
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 242 6388
  • Email: p.saunders@ed.ac.uk
  • MRC Centre for Inflammation Research
  • The Queen's Medical Research Institute
  • Little France
  • Edinburgh
  • EH16 4TJ

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. We may consider late applications if we have places available, but you should contact the relevant Admissions Office for advice first.

The application deadline for the first round of applications is Wednesday 10th January at 5pm (UK time).

You must submit two references with your application.

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.

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

  • Director, Postgraduate Research, CMVM, Philippa Saunders
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 242 6388
  • Email: p.saunders@ed.ac.uk
  • MRC Centre for Inflammation Research
  • The Queen's Medical Research Institute
  • Little France
  • Edinburgh
  • EH16 4TJ