Funded PhD Studentship – Infection and Population Health

Vacancy information

UCL Research Department of Infection and Population Health is seeking applications from candidates for a two year (in the first instance) funded post leading to a PhD in psychology/epidemiology / medical statistics/social science research commencing in June 2016 (or as soon thereafter as possible) to be based at the Royal Free site within the Health Psychology Unit, Research department of Infection and Population Health.

Studentship Details

The studentship will involve working together with an established team on the effects of HIV on child development.  The studentship emerges from a 3 year funded study based in Zimbabwe.  A cluster randomized controlled trial is underway examining the effect of parenting and economic support for HIV positive women and their newborn infants.  The study is part of a USAID special initiative covering three similar projects (one in Lesotho and one in Swaziland).  The Zimbabwe study has multiple components and a local Zimbabwe PhD Student is currently taking the lead in Zimbabwe.  The UK based PhD student will support the entire study, work on the data base and also have opportunities to link up with the other three studies in the initiative and background studies on HIV and child development.  The candidate will be involved in all aspects of the project.

The PhD will be supervised by the PI and research team – namely Prof Lorraine Sherr, Prof Frances Cowan (UCL) and Prof Lucie Cluver (Oxford University)

Person Specification

Applicants should hold a first or upper second class honours degree in a relevant subject (such as psychology, social science, statistics or epidemiology) and an MSc in a relevant subject (such as social science, medical statistics, epidemiology or related discipline). Excellent skills and experience in quantitative research methodology, statistical methods, analysis of large and complex data-sets, data management, and the use of statistical software are all essential. Knowledge of qualitative data analysis would be an advantage.  Willingness to learn and develop are key.  Willingness to be flexible, to contribute to all elements of an international initiative and to take responsibility are crucial.  Applicants should also have a strong interest in children, epidemiology and HIV, and excellent oral and written communication skills.


Applicants must be UK/EU nationals and must have been resident in the UK for three years immediately prior to starting a PhD to be eligible.


Please submit a CV including full details of all University courses and grades to date; contact details of two academic or professional referees and a personal statement (750 words maximum) outlining your suitability for the project, what you hope to achieve from the PhD. and your research experience to date.

Any enquiries relating to the project and/or suitability should be directed to Prof Loraine Sherr (l.sherr@ucl.ac.uk) or Prof Frances Cowan (f.cowan@ucl.ac.uk)  

Please submit your application electronically to: l.sherr@ucl.ac.uk

Research Department of Infection & Population Health,

Closing date: 30th April2016

Interviews: 11th May 2016

PhD proposal (Prof Andrew Phillips)

Modelling long term morbidity and mortality outcomes for people with HIV: effects of HIV, ART and background morbidity - comparative effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of regimen choices 

While the START study has provided the evidence required to inform policy on timing of ART initiation, uncertainties remain over long term outcomes for people on ART, particularly in relation to risk of non-AIDS events.  There is uncertainty over residual effects of HIV even in optimally treated people, through ongoing low level replication or continuing adverse effects of earlier damage caused by HIV.  Further, while modern ART regimens have high efficacy and low toxicity the possibility of moderate long term adverse drug effects remains, with specific drugs associated with different concerns (e.g. renal function and bone density with TDF, myocardial infarction with abacavir, neurologic effects with efavirenz).  Balancing long term consequences of alternative drug options can be difficult.  For example, in a person with moderately low eGFR the trade offs of use of tenofovir and abacavir, or even the option of using neither (with 3TC/FTC as the only nucleos(t)ide analogue drug) are unclear.  In addition, as ARVs go off patent and prices reduce markedly use of specific drugs which remain under patient is increasingly scrutinised by payers.  Examples include whether integrase inhibitors can be used instead of efavirenz or a boost protease inhibitor in first line treatment, and whether TAF can be used instead of TDF.  In countries such as the UK it will be become important to demonstrate cost effectiveness of regimen choices.  We propose to adapt an existing model of HIV progression to consider these issues in detail, informed by previous published studies and ongoing analyses of the START trial and of D:A:D and other studies.

If you are interested to investigate this proposal further then please contact Professor Andrew Phillips (andrew.phillips@ucl.ac.uk

Vacancies in other areas of the Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care

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