International PhD Academy: Medical Research

Foundation year programme structure

The first year consists of 120 credits made up of two taught compulsory modules and a further two optional modules detailed below.

The four taught modules make up 60 credits. The two research projects make up a further 60 credits and are three months long each so you would spend 6 months full time in the lab

Compulsory modules 

Methods in Biomedical Research - MEDM5161M

In this module, students will gain an understanding of the principles of scientific research as applied in Biomedical Sciences. They will be taught the process of formulating an original question within a research field of interest, the principles of good project design, and ethical considerations that arise in biomedical research. The module will provide insight into different research approaches commonly applied in biomedical research, ranging from laboratory imaging, immunological and organotypic systems approaches to clinical trials.  Using examples of real research, students will gain understanding of the process of experimentation and data collection, with hands on experience analysing and interpreting laboratory and patient data.  Students will evaluate data and consider potential sources of bias and error. The module will conclude with the process of integration of different lines of experimentation and writing of a scientific report.

Paper Criticism in Medicine - MEDS5020M

The aim of the module is to encourage students to develop their critical and analytical skills with discussion and debate. Learning takes place in small groups and initially encompasses the process of paper publication, peer review and the scientific methods. The paper criticisms will develop the students' critical faculties by asking them to understand, condense and interpret scientific papers.
The emphasis will be on the scientific method and not on the content of these papers. The ability to evaluate published research will be assessed in an examination when an unseen paper will be presented for critical analysis.

Research Project 1 – MEDR5410M

Research Project 2 – MEDR5420M

The two research projects are 3 months long each so you would spend 6 months full time in the lab and write up 2 literature reviews and 2 project reports in the style of a research paper plus a poster and an oral presentation. These would be in your PhD supervisor’s lab so that you have the opportunity to get to know them and their group while learning techniques that you will use in your 3 year PhD project. Writing up the research projects will help you gain a detailed background in your chosen research area and also help you improve your scientific writing and written and oral presentational skills. 

Optional modules

Animal Models of Disease - MEDM5131M

This module will provide insights into the use of vertebrate animal models in disease research. Particular areas of focus will be the ways models are generated and their use in particular key fields.

Big Data for Rare and Common Disorders - MEDM5151M

This module will provide insight into the way big data is impacting our understanding of human disease and the development of therapies. It will focus on a range of disorders spanning from rare Mendelian disease to common disorders of complex aetiology. The content will be delivered by focusing on exemplar cases and will take the students on the journey from defining the medical problem and understanding the disease mechanisms, all the way to the development of treatments and therapies. Disorders covered include cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, inherited retinal disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and age-related macular degeneration. Topics reviewed will include gene replacement therapy, pharmacogenetics, phenotype-genotype correlations, whole genome siRNA screens, patient datasets, whole genome sequencing, antisense oligonucleotide (AON)-based therapies and CRISPR-mediated gene editing. At the end of this course, students should have a thorough understanding of the exciting way big data is influencing medical research and practise today, and what opportunities it offers for the future, but they will also have an appreciation of the problems and limitations that it brings.

Cancer Biology and Molecular Oncology - MEDM5221M

This module will provide insights into the molecular and cell biology of cancers and into how this knowledge can be harnessed to allow therapeutic opportunities. Particular areas of focus will be the function of the key cancer-related pathways and cellular processes, the molecular mechanisms of pathway deregulation, and the targeting of these pathways in therapy. Teaching will be informed by the state of the art research of the individual tutors.

Introduction to Health Data Science - EPIB5040M

The module is designed to provide students with a thorough grounding in the principals of planning, conducting, and critically reviewing data scientific research in the contexts of health of medicine. By the end of the module, students will be confident with: the language and conventions of health data science, calculating and interpreting measures of occurrence and association, designing and evaluating scientific studies in populations, identifying and appraising sources of bias, and using causal diagrams to support causal reasoning.

Introduction to Genetic Epidemiology - EPIB5032M

The module will provide an introduction to genetic epidemiology covering all the main topics of current interest in the field. An introduction to human genetics will be included, but the main emphasis is on understanding statistical and epidemiological aspects of the study of the genetic basis of human diseases.

High throughput Technologies - BIOL5178M

The module aims to provide an understanding of the use of high-throughput biomolecular data generation methods. The emphasis will be on understanding methods and the data that they typically give. Data analysis methods will be discussed but there will not be a strong emphasis on statistical methods that are covered in another module. Experience of data analysis will be provided in some of the following areas: High-throughput (new/next generation) DNA sequencing, and applications in genome sequencing (genetics, cancer, rare diseases), epigenetics and genetic regulation (methylation, histone modification, DNA accessibility, ChIP-seq), gene expression studies (RNA-seq), studies of other RNA species (miRNA, lncRNA, circle RNA) and translation. High-throughput proteomics and metabolomics using mass spectrometry, NMR and other methods. Chemical proteomics, high-throughput analysis of protein interactions. High-throughput phenotypic screens, whole or part genome siRNA screens. Phenotypic screens using small molecule libraries. High-throughput methods in structural biology and drug/fragment screening.

Immunity and Disease - MEDM5121M

This module focuses on advancing knowledge of the immune system relevant to our understanding and treatment of human disease. The aim is to provide an in depth view of immune function with reference to infection, autoimmunity and cancer and how the immune system is exploited in prevention and treatment of major human diseases.

Human Molecular Genetics – MEDM5111M

Students will gain knowledge and understanding of human molecular genetics, techniques used in the study of human molecular genetics, the human genome project and relevance to a variety of single gene and complex disorders. Students will have the opportunity to explore the principles that govern inheritance and the way in which mutations lead to inherited disease. They will be able to explore the major categories of genetic disease, and become aware of the areas in which genetic considerations affect clinical decision making.

The Molecular Biology of Cancer - MEDM5141

This module will provide essential core understanding of Cancer Molecular Biology and how it relates to disease progression and patient outcomes. Particular focus will be placed upon the dysregulation of key cellular processes corresponding to the classical cancer hallmarks and how major signalling pathways are involved and interact in this process. This will in turn provide understanding of how targeted medicine is evolving to treat cancer on a patient specific basis. Teaching will be delivered by experts in relevant areas in the form of lectures and tutorials. Students will develop the molecular tools with which to unpick the applied aspects of cancer biology discussed in further modules.

Cancer Drug Development - MEDM5231M

This module is focussed on the challenges and latest developments in anti-cancer drug development from a pharmacological point of view. The aim is to provide a good understanding of the processes and difficulties in successfully translating anti-cancer research into clinical practice to improve patient outcomes.

Stem Cell Biology: MEDM5211M

This module will detail the fundamental principles of stem cell biology using the haematopietic system as a leading model for exploring the molecular mechanism(s) by which stem cells can generate various cell types of the blood and immune system. Disregulation of these mechanisms upsets the balance of cell death, proliferation and differentiation resulting in the shift towards cancer. The latest experiemental approaches (microarray, Chip-Seq, shRNA) and emerging areas (cancer stem cells, iPS and regenerative medicine) in stem cell research will be discussed.

Further appropriate optional modules can be chosen the University of Leeds Taught Postgraduate Catalogue with agreement from programme and module leads.