UCL Institute of Ophthalmology


3-Year Santen SenSyT PhD Studentship

Applications are now being accepted for a 3-Year PhD studentship funded by the Institute of Ophthalmology

Project details

UCL Department / Division: UCL Institute of Ophthalmology
Duration of Studentship: 3 years
PhD Title: Child-friendly phenotyping of inherited retinal disorders
Supervisors: Professor Mariya Moosajee (primary) and Dr Tessa Dekker (secondary)


We are offering a full-time, fully funded 3-year PhD studentship to study how retinal disorder affect the development neural structure and visual information processing. This project offers the unique combination of being clinically relevant as well as addressing new questions about neural plasticity mechanisms in severe early onset vision loss.

Project Details

The PhD student will test a cohort of child patients with a single genetic mutation (CRB1) that can cause a range of retinal dystrophies (including Leber congenital amaurosis and retinitis pigmentosa). Working with a team of experts, the student will develop child-friendly yet sensitive tests of visual function and structure in these children with the aims to unlock new opportunities to investigate how the genotype shapes variable neural development and visual function, improve understanding of prognosis, and generate more reliable outcome metrics for future clinical trials. 

Techniques in the PhD will include behavioural testing and various advanced neuroimaging methods, and computational/mathematical modelling approaches (e.g., visual psychophysics, pRF mapping, quantitative MRI microstructural modelling). You will also gain expertise in working with patients and clinically relevant research. You will do this work as part of a larger interdisciplinary team of researchers with expertise in clinical ophthalmology, vision science, and neuroimaging.

The PhD supervisors are based across the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, Moorfields Eye Hospital, and the UCL Dept of Experimental Psychology in UCL PaLS. These institutions are located in the heart of London, with vibrant and collaborative communities of faculty, postdoctoral, and graduate researchers. They offer access to high quality scientific resources, including excellent training courses and unique patient access via Moorfields Eye Hospital. Our labs are sociable, collaborative, and support flexible working. 



We are looking for PhD candidates with a degree in cognitive neuroscience or equivalent, demonstrable good computational and programming skills (e.g. in MATLAB, R, Python), strong communication skills, and an interest in visual neuroscience and plasticity (all essential). Experience with advanced neuroimaging, psychophysics, and patient-oriented testing are a plus (desired), but training will be provided in all aspects of the work.

Duties and Responsibilities 

The successful candidate is expected to: 

  • Develop new tests and analysis pipelines
  • Recruit patients from Moorfields Eye Hospital and normal sighted controls
  • Undertake and collect data, analyse, and interpret results
  • Work collaboratively with other members of the team, and clinical colleagues 
  • Contribute to the activities of the research team, department and be aware of UCL policies 
  • Organise and manage project data whilst liaising with the lead investigators
  • Participate in research meetings and journal clubs at MEH and UCL 
  • Meet timelines and goals, agreed in discussion with the principal investigators
  • Present the results of the project in national and international meetings, and charity partners (patient and public engagement activities)
  • Prepare manuscripts for submission to international peer-reviewed journals 
  • Prepare progress reports 
  • Prepare presentations 
  • Carry out any other duties as are within the scope, spirit and purpose of the job, the title of the post and its grading as requested by the supervisor and head of division

Person Specification 


  • A BSc or MSc degree in cognitive neuroscience or equivalent
  • Excellent methodological and analytical/statistical skills 
  • Demonstrable computational and programming skills (e.g. in MATLAB, R, Python)
  • Enthusiasm for research in visual neuroscience and plasticity
  • Interest in working with human subjects, both adults and children
  • Strong communication skills
  • High proficiency in written and spoken English


  • Experience with advanced neuroimaging
  • Experience with psychophysics
  • Experience with patient-oriented testing, in particular in eye disease
  • Informal enquiries should be made to Dr Tessa Dekker - but please email Hugo Chow-Wing-Bom hugo.chow-wing-bom.15@ucl.ac.uk  who will coordinate this.   

How to apply

Applicants should submit their application by emailing to ioo.pgr@ucl.ac.uk, cc'ing hugo.chow-wing-bom with the following: Please title your email: Santen Sensory Systems and Technologies and Therapies (SenSyT) PhD application, and attach (1) your CV, (2) a covering letter outlining motivation and suitability for this project, and (3) contact details for two academic referees who may be contacted by the interview panel if you are shortlisted (reference letters not required at this stage).

Enquiries relating to the application process should be sent to Hazel Croft, Research Degrees Administrator (ioo.pgr@ucl.ac.uk). Shortlisted candidates will be contacted for interview. 

The successful candidate is expected to start between October 2022 and January 2023 

Enquiries relating to the application process should be sent to Hazel Croft, Research Degrees Administrator (ioo.pgr@ucl.ac.uk). Shortlisted candidates will be contacted for interview.

The successful candidate is expected to start between October 2022 and January 2023

Funding and Eligibility Notes

This studentship is funded for 3 years by the Santen SenSyT scheme and includes PhD tuition fees, laboratory costs and an annual salary stipend starting at £24,000. The full studentship (home or international rate tuition fees and salary stipend) is eligible to all nationalities.

Application deadline

3 September 2022 at 11:59pm 

Proposed interview date

13 September 2022