MRC-Sackler PhD fellowships

MRes/PhD Programme

King’s College London is one of Europe’s largest institutions for research in the fields of developmental neuroscience and psychiatry, producing more highly cited publications in mental health than any other university in the world (Scopus 2016) and ranking 2nd in the world for psychiatry (US News, Best Global Universities, 2018).
Building on the outstanding clinical and basic science research base, the MRC Centre for Neurodevelopmental Disorders incorporates internationally renowned researchers in this arena, drawn from different departments across King’s. This prestigious 1+3 MRes/PhD programme in Neurodevelopmental Disorders, funded by the Medical Research Council and the Sackler Institute for Translational Neurodevelopment, has been designed to equip a new generation of basic and clinical scientists with the skills to work with each other at the forefront of research into these disorders.

In the Centre you will find a unique combination of neuroscientists and clinical researchers working on developmental disorders of the brain, with a focus on autism, epilepsy and schizophrenia. This collaboration between scientists, neurologists and psychiatrists will provide the best possible environment for you to train and become part of the next generation of world leaders in this field. You will have the opportunity to be based in one of three central London sites, and will be part of an exciting and vibrant university and city.

The 4 year PhD Programme in Neurodevelopmental Disorders has a 1+3 structure, where the pivotal first year allows for a fully informed choice of doctoral project, as well as developing breadth and depth of knowledge in Developmental Neuroscience, and acquiring the general skills required for a successful PhD.

The first year of the 4-year PhD programme comprises the MRes in Neurodevelopmental Disorders course. Its major focus is three laboratory rotations, designed to give students a broad experience of research opportunities across King’s, with training in laboratory techniques and scientific communication to a range of audiences. In addition, students will benefit from a taught Neurodevelopmental disorders module covering topics from basic principles to the latest research, as well as interdisciplinary and transferable skills training.

Based on their experience in the three different laboratory rotations, students then choose their PhD supervisors and project at the end of the first year. For details of potential supervisors please see information under 'Group Leaders' on the Research tab and the tab 'What kind of projects?' on this page. During years 2-4 students will work full-time towards the completion of a research thesis in neurodevelopmental disorders. To complement their research training, students also have access to a wide variety of transferable skills and networking opportunities across the wider neuroscience community. This includes the opportunity to undertake short-term placements in a network of collaborator laboratories elsewhere in the UK and in the US. This network includes David Amaral (UC Davis), Mark Cunningham (Newcastle University), Daniel Geschwind (UC Los Angeles), Paul Harrison (Oxford University), David Lewis (University of Pittsburgh), and Nenad Sestan (Yale University).

Mentoring & Pastoral Care

There is a dedicated PhD committee, with members drawn from across the different research topics within the Centre that will monitor the training of students. In addition, each student will have an individual Thesis Committee that will provide tailored scientific input and support. Students will be integrated into the large and thriving PhD community at King’s with the opportunity to participate in an immense variety of scientific and social events.

Award types and eligibility

Home applicants (British/Irish) and International applicants (EU/Overseas)* - The fully funded studentships cover the following:

  • Course fees
  • Stipend (approx. £21,535 per year)
  • Contribution towards research costs, training and conference attendance

*Reflecting UKRI guidance up to two studentships are available to international applicants.

Full eligibility criteria can be found at: https://www.ukri.org/skills/funding-for-research-training/

Further Information

Information about Postgraduate study at King’s College London can be found at kcl.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/index.html

Information about Postgraduate study at the MRC CNDD can be obtained by contacting the Programme Co-ordinators Dr Laura Andreae and Dr Anthony Vernon.

We are keen to attract individuals from a variety of backgrounds, and encourage applications from both biological and physical sciences, including clinicians, mathematicians and computer scientists.

Candidates should have or expect at least an upper second class degree (2:1) in a STEM subject. If applicants possess a lower second class (2:2) then a research-based MSc at merit or distinction level is required. English language competence criteria apply. At King’s, we are deeply committed to making the university an inclusive, welcoming and inspiring place to work and study. We encourage and welcome applications from across the community and all appointments are made solely on merit.

Candidates must also meet a minimum English language level of Band D: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/apply/entry-requirements/english-language

PhD projects will typically be supervised by two scientists in the Centre, to be chosen by the student. We encourage students to select a combination of a more basic neuroscientist and a clinician. These are examples of current PhD projects:

Supervisors Title
Marija-Magdalena Petrinovic, Grainne McAlonan Aggression and irritability in neurodevelopmental conditions: A translational approach
Robert Hindges, Declan Murphy Analysis and validation of candidate genes for ASD in novel zebrafish models
David Edwards Antecedents of aberrant cognitive development in early life
Oscar Marín, Philip McGuire Assembly of inhibitory circuits in psychotic disorders: from animal models to therapeutic targets
Deb Pal, Mark Richardson Biomarkers and Endophenotypes in Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy
Laura Andreae, Grainne McAlonan Brain network responsivity and recovery in autism spectrum conditions
Corinne Houart, Deepak P Srivastava Cellular and molecular understanding of Foxg1 syndrome pathologies in animal and cellular models
Marija-Magdalena Petrinovic, Laura Andreae, Declan Murphy Deciphering mechanisms and biomarkers of autism through mutations in the SHANK3 gene: A translational approach
Deb Pal, Ivo Lieberam, Juan Burrone Developing in vitro human models of epilepsy
Laura Andreae, Albert Basson Dissecting the mechanisms underlying altered excitatory:inhibitory balance in mouse models of autism and executive dysfunction
Oscar Marín, Adil Khan Functional consequences of disrupting the ratio of excitatory and inhibitory neurons in the cerebral cortex
Philip McGuire, Steven Williams Genetic and neuroimaging predictors of treatment response in psychosis
Robert Hindges, Beatriz Rico Investigation of phenotypic alterations following introduction of schizophrenia‐associated SNPs in zebrafish
Setsuko Sahara, Ivo Lieberam, Laura Andreae, Robert Hindges Modeling of neurodevelopmental disorder risk genes in 2D/3D cultures of mouse/human ES and iPS cells
Adil Khan, Beatriz Rico Molecular basis of visual learning
Juan Burrone, Samuel Cooke Neocortical Feedback Supporting Familiarity
Laura Andreae, Adil Khan Neural Network Dynamics In Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Marija-Magdalena Petrinovic, Grainne McAlonan Neuroimmune mechanisms of the autism-associated aggression
Matthew Grubb, Adil Khan Representation of context in mouse prefrontal cortex during flexible behaviour
Grainne McAlonan, Jonathan O'Muircheartaigh The association between environmental risk factors, polygenic risk scores and MRI findings in the developing brain
Grainne McAlonan, David Edwards The vulnerable brain. Using neonatal MRI brain structural and functional connectivity to predict autism spectrum phenotypes in childhood.
Robert Hindges, Deepak P Srivastava Understanding the roles of synaptic adhesion molecules linked to mental disorders

Applications must be made online using King’s online application portal by the closing date.

On the ‘Choosing a programme’ page, please enter the following programme name ‘Neurodevelopmental Disorders MRes / PhD 1+3 (Full-Time)’ and search.

In your application, you will be asked to include:

  • Academic Transcripts – where applicable, academic transcripts must be submitted with the online admissions application
  • Details of your qualifications (you will need to attach copies)
  • Details of previous employment
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • A personal statement describing your interests and why you wish to apply for this project. Please include this as an attachment rather than using the text box.
  • Academic References – all admissions applications require two supporting references which should support the application to both part of the programme, MRes and PhD. If the applicant is relying on their referees to submit references directly to the College after they have submitted their admissions application, then the applicant must ensure that their chosen referees are made aware of the application closing date.
  • If relevant, English language test results. These are not required at the point of applying if you have not yet taken a test, however if you are assessed as requiring this, any offer would be conditional on the provision of a test that meets the Band D requirement.
  • In the Funding section, please tick box 5 and include the following reference: SB-IOP-MRCS-21

Please note there is no need to complete the Research Proposal section in your application.

Please ensure your application is complete, including the submission of both references, by the deadline closing date indicated. Any delay to the receipt of a complete application may impact the assessment of your application.

Only shortlisted applicants will be contacted.

  • Closing Date:
    • Wednesday 6th January 2021 (23:59 GMT)
  • Interviews:
    • Wednesday 27th January 2021
    • Wednesday 3rd February 2021
    • Thursday 4th February 2021