UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health


Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health


PhD studentship in epidemiology and statistics

Health and educational trajectories of children with Down Syndrome in England, using linked administrative data.

A 3-year PhD Studentship in epidemiology and statistics funded by the Down’s Syndrome Association is available within the Department of Population Policy and Practice at the Great Ormond Street UCL Institute of Child Health, within the Child Health Informatics Group. The studentship will commence from October 2022 onwards, under the supervision of Prof. Ruth Gilbert and Prof. Bianca De Stavola. Clinical supervision will be provided by Dr Jill Ellis (consultant community paediatrician, Newham Local Authority). The post is funded by the Down Syndrome Association, who will support engagement with children and families affected by Down Syndrome throughout the research study.

This PhD offers training in longitudinal analyses of linked administrative data that brings together de-identified hospital, social care and education records for all children in England.
The study focusses on children with Down syndrome, who are expected to receive intensive learning support at school in the form of an Education and Health Care Plan early in their school career. Support in school is likely to affect school attainment, resilience and independence and potentially health outcomes. However, evidence is lacking about how such provision varies across England and whether support in school impacts on health. The study will also examine outcomes for children with Down syndrome before and during the COVID pandemic. This studentship will generate evidence to inform policies in education and healthcare to improve outcomes for children with Down Syndrome.

The studentship will analyse data for a national cohort of approximately 10,000 children with Down Syndrome born in England from 1997-2020 and children with other conditions.
The student will use the ECHILD Database https://www.ucl.ac.uk/child-health/echild). S/he will develop statistical skills in analysing large administrative datasets to determine prognostic outcomes and to assess the impact of service provision on outcomes. In broad terms the student will consider the following areas of investigation, to:

  •  Estimate the incidence and prevalence of multiple morbidities, specialist interventions such as surgical procedures, and prognosis in terms of survival and multiple morbidities over the child life course.
  • Evaluate the educational trajectories of children with Down Syndrome including the type, timing and setting of special needs support.
  • Examine how the type of school (mainstream or special) and level of special education needs support affects health outcomes among children with Down Syndrome at different ages and according to underlying health conditions. For example, the student might evaluate adolescents with Down Syndrome and how adverse outcomes such as stress-related or mental health presentations to hospital relate to type of school.

The student will receive a starting stipend of £18,062 per annum (including London weighting) as well as the cost of tuition fees based on UK fee status. Students with advanced quantitative, postgraduate training (i.e., MSc in statistics/quantitative longitudinal methods) will be eligible for a supplementary stipend of £3000 per annum.

Personal Specification

Applicants should have, or expect to receive an upper second-class Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree (or equivalent work experience) in a relevant discipline or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.


This studentship covers the cost of tuition fees based on the UK (Home) rate. Non-UK  students can apply but will have to personally fund the difference between the UK (Home) rate and the overseas rate where they are not eligible for UK fee status. NB: You will be asked about your likely fee status at the interview so we would advise you to contact the UCL Graduate Admissions Office for advice should you be unsure whether or not you meet the eligibility criteria for Home fee status. Further information on Brexit and the definitions for fee status assessment can be found on the UCL website and also the  UKCISA website (Higher Education: Definitions for fee status assessment).


To apply, please send a current CV including the contact details of two professional referees as well as a cover letter to m.lilliman@ucl.ac.uk. Enquiries regarding the post can be made
to Prof. Ruth Gilbert (r.gilbert@ucl.ac.uk).

Deadline for receipt of applications: 30th September 2022
Interview date: TBC