Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering


PhD Studentship - Computational modelling of mutational spread in the healthy aging tissue

12 May 2022

A 4-year EPSRC Doctoral Training Programme PhD studentship is available at the UCL Department of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering Hall Lab. The funding covers an annual tax-free stipend (at least £18000 p.a.) tuition fees, and a generous £1200 per year Research Training Support Grant.

Studentship Description

As the body ages, cells endure a diverse range of challenges. Unmutated cells compete neutrally in epithelial tissues, causing stochastic clone loss and expansion over time. Over time cells accrue mutations, altering the cell phenotype. These mutations may arise from exposure to external mutagens, or through intrinsic processes of the cell. Mutant cells may gain new properties, or their fitness may change, driving clonal expansion or loss from the tissue. This leads to an evolutionary process within normal tissues of the body, with a heterogeneous population of mutant cells undergoing constant competitive selection. These mutated cells are not themselves cancerous, but may eventually lead to the development of tumours.

Understanding how the tissue remains robust, and how mutations transforms the tissue in carcinogenesis will enable us to identify the fundamental forces that enable and prevent cancer, and support the future development of approaches to better stratify and treat patients. In this PhD project you will use different computational techniques, ranging from developing network models of gene interactions to simulations of cells in the tissue to understand rich experimental datasets shared by collaborators.

Person Specification

The candidate should have a strong background in either physical sciences or life sciences, with evidence of cross disciplinary interests. Programming or bioinformatics experience is desirable, and candidates should have excellent written and presentation skills.


Please complete the following steps to apply:

  • Make a formal application to via the UCL application portal https://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/apply . Please select the programme code MPhil/PhD Medical Physics RRDMPHSING01 and enter Computational modelling of mutational spread in the healthy aging tissue and cancer 22010 under ‘Name of Award 1’.
  • Send an expression of interest and current CV to Dr Ben Hall and Mr James Vallerine j.vallerine@ucl.ac.uk and quote your student ID from your Portico application. Please use the subject title: Project Code 22010

Application Process:

  • After the deadline, all applicants that specified Project 22005 and with a Portico application will be considered for interview.
  • Candidates will normally be invited for interview within two-weeks of the deadline. If you have not been contacted within this time-period, you have unfortunately not been successful in being shortlisted.
  • The interview will normally consist of a short presentation (5-10mins) by the candidate followed by questions from a panel of researchers of mixed gender and expertise.
  • The successful candidate will be informed by email and given a week to confirm whether they wish to accept the PhD place and funding.
  • Note that applications without specifying the project they are applying for and/or making a formal Portico application will be automatically rejected.
  • Once accepted, a formal UCL offer of admission will be sent to the applicant as well as an offer of studentship funding.


  • If you wish to make an appeal, please email Professor Adrien Desjardins.
  • Appeals will only be possible on the grounds that published recruitment/selection process (above) was not followed.
  • Students will not be able to appeal on the grounds of disagreeing with the academic selection or judgement made.