Funded PhD Studentship at the UCL Research Department of Infection and Population Health

PhD Studentship at the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit (HPRU) in Blood-borne and Sexually Transmitted Infections at University College London

Summary: NIHR Health Protection Research Unit (HPRU) in Blood-borne and Sexually Transmitted Infections at University College London invites applications for a NIHR/UCL funded PhD studentship to start as soon as possible. The NIHR HPRU in Blood-borne and Sexually Transmitted Infections offers a unique environment to those wishing to undertake interdisciplinary study and gain exposure to research within an organisation pursuing a highly acclaimed international research agenda. This HPRU is led by UCL in collaboration with Public Health England and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. It aims to improve the health of the population and develop practical policy guidelines for those working in health protection in this field.

Successful candidates will have the opportunity to benefit from expertise across the other NIHR funded HPRUs. The PhD proposals offered fall with the remit of the key research themes of the HPRU (detailed below), are multi-disciplinary and are co-supervised across the partner institutions (with at least one supervisor from UCL). The proposals offered can be viewed here 

In addition successful candidates may be able to pursue their own PhD proposal if it falls within the stated criteria.

Applicants should have a first or upper second class degree in an appropriate discipline and a MSc in a relevant subject.

Eligibility: This NIHR/UCL research studentship is for 3 years and due to funding restrictions, applicants must be UK/EU nationals. Applicants must have been a resident in the UK for three years immediately prior to starting a PhD to be eligible. If you do not fulfil this criterion, you are not eligible for this scheme.

Funding: Studentships cover UK home fees and full stipend for three years. The stipend is currently £16,405 pa. One studentship is available to start in the 2016/17 academic year.

Applications: Applications should include a CV including full details of all University courses and grades to date; an indication of the PhD proposal (indicating the candidate’s suitability) or area of research for which the candidate is applying, and a statement of research experience and interests.

Electronic submissions are preferred.  Please include a contact telephone number and an email address. The covering letter should be no longer than 2 pages. Applications should be emailed to: Pat Withington (p.withington@ucl.ac.uk)  or posted to UCL Royal Free Campus, Research Department of Infection and Population Health, Room 655, Level 1, Rowland Hill Street, London, NW3 2PF.

Application deadline: Thursday 29th September 2016.

If you wish to discuss possible research topics and opportunities, please contact Dr Greta Rait, Academy Lead (g.rait@ucl.ac.uk) or Professor Caroline Sabin, HPRU Director c.sabin@ucl.ac.uk). 

Interview date: Monday 10th October 2016

Academic references will be taken up for all short-listed candidates and travel costs will be reimbursed up to the equivalent of the most economical train/air fare available within the UK.



The National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit (NIHR HPRU) in Blood-Borne and Sexually Transmitted Infections:

The National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit (NIHR HPRU) in Blood Borne and Sexually Transmitted Infections is collaboration between UCL, the LSHTM and PHE. Researchers in the HPRU aim to conduct state-of-the art research on sexually transmitted infections and blood-borne viruses to improve the health of the population and to help develop practical policy guidelines for those working in health protection.  Research in the HPRU is structured around three main themes of risk and risk reduction, under-diagnosis, and the care and management of those diagnosed with infections.  The HPRU team includes researchers in the fields of clinical medicine, epidemiology, medical statistics, qualitative science, social science, health economics, mathematical modelling and laboratory science.

UCL, Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care:

The Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care is part of the Faculty of Population Health Sciences within the UCL School of Life and Medical Sciences (incorporating UCL Medical School)

The Institute comprises of five Research Departments, as follows:

Applied Health Research                             http://www.ucl.ac.uk/ahr/

Epidemiology and Public Health                  http://www.ucl.ac.uk/epidemiology/

Infection and Population Health                  http://www.ucl.ac.uk/iph/

Primary Care and Population Health            http://www.ucl.ac.uk/pcph/

MRC Lifelong Health & Ageing Unit at UCL  http://www.nshd.mrc.ac.uk

The Institute has an internationally competitive research programme focused on:

  • Understanding the determinants of health and disease across the life-course in populations and in patients in clinical settings, including the investigation of genetic, biological, behavioural, psychosocial and cultural processes;
  • Evaluating strategies for the prevention and treatment of physical and mental ill-health;
  • Monitoring and surveillance of health and health care nationally and internationally;
  • Carrying out innovative work on behaviour change and on the practice of primary care;
  • Developing and implementing new technologies in teaching and research in population health;
  • Teaching and capacity building in population health research and practice.
  • Applied health and health policy research

The staff of the Institute is multidisciplinary, with expertise across the in clinical, public health, and primary care  medicine, epidemiology, medical statistics, health psychology, sociology, health economics, public policy, information technology, genetics, physiology, and improvement science. As an Institute we have strong national and international interdisciplinary collaborations with a large portfolio of international research linked to the UCL Global Health Initiative.

The Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care (IEHC) offers world-class education and training in a wide range of subjects including contributions to all years of the MBBS curriculum and an extensive portfolio of post graduate taught and research programmes.

IEHC holds an Athena SWAN Charter Silver Award in recognition of its commitment to advancing women's careers in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in academia.

The Institute Director is Professor Andrew Steptoe

Further information on IEHC can be found at: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/iehc/

Partner organisations:

Public Health England: PHE provides strategic leadership and vision for protecting and improving the nation’s health. Its ambition is to lead nationally, and enable locally, a transformation in the health expectations of all people in England, regardless of where they live and the circumstance of their birth. It will achieve this through the application of research, knowledge and skills. PHE is an executive agency of the

Department of Health. It is a distinct delivery organisation with operational autonomy to advise and support government, local authorities and the NHS in a professionally independent manner.

The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine:

LSHTM is a world-leading centre for research and postgraduate education in public and global health. Its mission is to improve health and health equity in the UK and world-wide; working in partnership to achieve excellence in public and global health research, education and translation of knowledge into policy and practice. The School’s multidisciplinary expertise includes clinicians, epidemiologists, statisticians, social scientists, molecular biologists and immunologists. The School provides a stimulating environment with state-of-the-art facilities in which to carry out research training.


The NIHR HPRU in Blood Borne and Sexually Transmitted Infections works closely with the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit (HPRU) in Evaluation of Interventions is part of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), which is a partnership between University of Bristol and Public Health England (PHE) in collaboration with University College London, Cambridge Medical Research Council (MRC) Biostatistics Unit and University of the West of England. The NIHR HPRU in Evaluation of Interventions uses a multi-disciplinary research team to undertake applied research on the development and evaluation of interventions, focusing on infection.

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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