British Heart Foundation 4 Year PhD Programme in Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes

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Why focus on Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes?

“In spite of modern treatments, diabetes substantially increases the risk of suffering major cardiovascular problems, such as heart attack, stroke, limb ischaemia and heart failure which impairs quality of life and reduces survival. 
While our PhD programme alumni are in their early scientific careers, more than one in ten adults in the UK will suffer from diabetes, with major implications for individuals, families, and the economy. 
Our world leading track record in cardiovascular and diabetes research provides an excellent springboard to develop researchers who are capable of meeting this substantial public health challenge in the future.”
Mark kearney, dean of medicine, in sustainability garden.

Professor Mark Kearney BHF Professor of Cardiovascular Disease & Diabetes and Dean of Medicine, University of Leeds 


Structure of our Programme 

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Our prestigious 4 year British Heart Foundation PhD training programme housed within the Leeds Institute of Cardiovascular & Metabolic Medicine allows us to offer 4 studentships annually (starting in October each year). One of which is available for an exceptional international candidate. The next intake will start their degrees in October 2020 with recruitment complete by January 2020. 
We seek to create a new generation of scientists from a broad range of disciplines who think differently and go on to be instrumental in transforming understanding and treatment of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. We don’t expect you to be the finished article from the start. We provide a supportive, nurturing, structure to maximise the opportunities on offer and allow our students to develop and grow, experiencing the breadth of their subject area in addition to the specialism of their chosen project.
Each project addresses the challenge of cardiovascular disease and diabetes and includes 2 mini-projects in Year 1. These are usually outside the laboratory of the primary supervisor but closely related to the main research project. This allows students the opportunity to spend all 4 years primarily directed towards their main PhD project while retaining the option to change direction and/or supervisors during Year 1 if properly justified. Final alignment of students with project and supervisors occurs by 9 months when the proposal is provided to the BHF. 
Year 1 also includes a carefully designed programme of lectures, generic laboratory training and clinical experience provided specifically to the 4-year students. Students are supported to write a review article relevant to their project for formal publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Within years 2 to 4 students may also plan a visit to an outstanding overseas or UK laboratory, or gain experience in a non-academic environment to develop further skills and experience relevant to their project and help plan a future career within or outside of academia.

Project proposals

Lauren eades in the light labs 1

Highlights of the Programme:

  • Emphasis on PGR support (dedicated administrator, buddy scheme, mentors)
  • Access to world class research facilities and the LIGHT laboratories 
  • Maximized time for the main PhD project
  •  Overseas visits to other world-leading laboratories
  •  Support for career development
  • Off-campus research retreat in the Lake District
  • Publication of a review article
  • Extensive relevant taught and real-life training experiences
  • Wide multidisciplinary supervisor pool (including clinician-scientists)
  • Located in a stylish state-of-the-art scientific building on one of the largest university-hospital complexes in the UK

Entry Requirements

  • Students will have, or expect to obtain, a degree equivalent to at least a UK upper second class undergraduate degree in a relevant subject area including; medical sciences, biomedical sciences, structural biology, biochemistry, imaging, physics, chemistry, mathematics and computing
  • Four awards will be available annually, with a maximum of one for an international candidate
  • Applicants applying should not already have been awarded a doctoral degree

Applicants whose first language is not English must meet the Faculty’s English Language requirements.

Fee Information

UK/EU students: This studentship will cover the cost of tuition fees (at UK/EU rate) and a maintenance stipend (£19,919 - £23, 298 per year), based on 2018/19 rates.

Non-UK/EU students: one International Studentship will be considered for an exceptional candidate from outside the UK/EU.  This studentship will cover:

  • an annual contribution towards the international academic fee, leaving a deficit to be funded by the applicant of approximately £10,000 per annum
  • a maintenance stipend (£19,919 - £23,298 per year), based on 2017/18 rates

Please note: the deficit in academic fees for international students must be paid by the student or their sponsor at the time of registration. This can either be a payment for the full amount, or a payment for half the amount outstanding (approx. £5,000), with a second payment for the same amount required halfway through each academic year. The academic fee will remain the same for international students for all subsequent years of the programme. You will need to provide evidence that you are able to fund a minimum of half the academic fees outstanding (approx. £5,000) at the time of application. The stipend cannot be used to pay your first instalment of fees.

Student group in licamm

The full list of our project proposals

How to apply 

To apply please email the following supporting documentation to the Faculty of Medicine and Health Graduate School:

  • Completed Faculty Scholarship Application Form
  • Full Academic CV including referee details
  • Degree certificates and transcripts (or grade transcript if still studying)
  • Evidence of funding
  • 2 references from academic referees. Please ask your referees to send these references on your behalf, directly to the Faculty of Medicine and Health Graduate School
  • For non-UK/EU applicants, evidence (eg: bank statement, sponsorship letter) that you are able to cover the additional cost of fees, either personally or via a sponsor (approximately £10,000 per annum).    
  • Evidence of funding
  • Evidence of English language ability

Enquiries regarding the application process should be directed to the Faculty of Medicine and Health Graduate School.

Selection process

Closing date for applications is midnight on 2nd January 2020. If selected for interview you will be invited to visit the Institute for the day and experience:

  • A short talk by the Programme director Professor David Beech and co-director Dr Richard Cubbon who will discuss the research ongoing and the support on hand for PhD students
  • A tour of the laboratories and office space in the LIGHT building
  • Informal lunch with our current PhD Students 
  • Short 1:1 meeting with the supervisors of your three selected projects 
  • The interview itself - 30 minutes and with three members of the Programme management team. We do not require interviewees to give presentations
  • Successful candidates will be contacted to discuss their project choice and further options if necessary to ensure they get the best experience

For candidates currently outside the UK, interviews can be conducted over Skype.

LICAMM PhD student in the lab

Links to useful sites

International Office - Provides welcome and orientation support and immigration advice and the opportunity to be part of a Global Community.

Doctoral College - Provides support and enhances opportunities available to you as a PhD student.

Feeling at Home in Leeds - The University offers face to face support and online tools to help students feel at home and make the most of University life. 

Faculty of Medicine and Health Graduate School - As a researcher at Leeds, you will be part of a vibrant and welcoming research community both within the Faculty and the wider University.

Contact Us

For any queries about the 4 Year BHF Programme, please contact our dedicated administrator, Gillian Richardson.

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Lauren Eades 4-year British Heart Foundation PhD Programme

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The foundation year of my PhD has enabled me to learn a wide range of practical techniques and skills, including both experimental and computational methods. My PhD has been enriched by attending and presenting my work at conferences, such as the institute’s annual endothelial and MRCP conferences, 2019. I particularly enjoyed presenting at the annual student BHF conference at Imperial College London, 2019.
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Michael Bell PhD in Cardiovascular Science

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The highlights of the PhD so far have been conducting imaging experiments in the brand new ePIC facility and the opportunity to present research at the faculty away days. My research project is based on molecular imaging of abdominal aortic aneurysm. This involves studying the use of molecular probes which could use a stratification biomarkers in the detection and management of abdominal aortic aneurysm. The facilities in LICAMM and the University of Leeds are state of the art. ePIC houses leading equipment in medical imaging and the microscopy suite houses a range of excellent microscopes.
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