This prestigious 4-year PhD programme in Neurodevelopmental Disorders, funded by the Medical Research Council and the Sackler Institute for Translational Neurodevelopment at King’s, 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 this programme, you will train with the unique combination of neuroscientists and clinical researchers that make up the CNDD, working on neurodevelopmental disorders with a focus on autism, epilepsy and schizophrenia. This collaboration between scientists, neurologists, neonatologists, 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 of lab rotations allows for a fully informed choice of a 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. Its major focus is three laboratory rotations, chosen by students and designed to provide a broad experience of research opportunities across King’s, with training in laboratory techniques and scientific communication to a range of audiences. An incredible range of techniques are carried out in the Centre, some examples are here. In addition, students will benefit from a taught Neurodevelopmental Disorders module covering topics from basic principles to the latest research in autism, epilepsy and schizophrenia, as well as small group workshops, interdisciplinary and transferable skills training, all delivered by the Group Leaders in the Centre.
Based on their experience in the three different laboratory rotations, students then choose their PhD supervisors (to include a basic scientist and a clinician) and project at the end of the first year. For information about potential supervisors please have a look at our 'Group Leaders'. 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. During the PhD, we provide the opportunity to undertake short-term placements (often 6-12 weeks) elsewhere in the UK or abroad. For example, our network of collaborator laboratories 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), among others.
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.
Links to participating King's departments:
Centre for Developmental Neurobiology
Gene Therapy & Regenerative Medicine
Forensic and Neurodevelopmental Sciences
Centre for Craniofacial and Regenerative Biology
Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre
“The course is a truly unique opportunity to enjoy a year of research and learning with complete freedom. One can spend time in world class labs specialising in the full spectrum of science from sub-cellular to clinical trial, and it is possible to work on an equally wide spectrum of projects, including large scale multinational endeavours and preliminary exploratory studies.” - Oliver Gale-Grant
“I found the rotations extremely helpful in aiding the selection of a PhD project that I would find challenging and enjoyable, they allowed me to expand my skillset and experience a clinical environment. The CDN is a very friendly and inclusive place to be doing a PhD; there is very much a community attitude to science and everyone is more than happy to help each other.” - Hannah Bruce.
“Doing at least one clinical rotation and one basic rotation is very helpful, and gives you an opportunity to examine translational neurodevelopment from different perspectives. Very supportive environment, especially from the course coordinators!” - Daphna Fenchel
"I used the short-term placement grant to visit collaborators at the Hospital for Sick Kids in Toronto for one month where I was able to learn the methodological processes involved in Genome-Wide Association studies and their importance in uncovering genetic associations in neurodevelopmental conditions such as Epilepsy. It was a great opportunity to gain connections and develop skills from experts outside of my lab and the CNDD as well as visit an amazing city!" - Amy Shakeshaft
PhD projects will be supervised by two Group Leaders in the Centre, to include one basic neuroscientist and one clinician, chosen by the student. The project will be developed by the student with their supervisors. These are just some examples of current PhD projects:
|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|
|Oscar Marín||Assembly of inhibitory circuits in psychotic disorders: from animal models to therapeutic targets|
|Laura Andreae, Grainne McAlonan||Brain network responsivity and recovery in autism spectrum conditions|
|Corinne Houart, Deepak Srivastava||Cellular and molecular understanding of Foxg1 syndrome pathologies in animal and cellular models|
|Deb Pal, Ivo Lieberam, Juan Burrone||Developing in vitro human models of epilepsy|
|Steven Williams||Genetic and neuroimaging predictors of treatment response in psychosis|
|Grainne McAlonan, Jonathan O'Muircheartaigh||The association between environmental risk factors, polygenic risk scores and MRI findings in the developing brain|
These fully-funded studentships cover tuition fees, stipends and bench fees.
Stipend: Students will receive an enhanced stipend for each year of study (approx. £24 000).
Bench fees: An allowance will be provided for research consumables, training, and conference attendance.
Eligibility: The Admissions Portal will assign you a provisional fee status (Home or Overseas) based on the information included in your application, but this will be reviewed by the Admissions team when they process your application. We have up to two studentships available for overseas applicants per year. Since Brexit, all EU students are classified as Overseas.
We are keen to attract individuals from a variety of backgrounds, and encourage applications from biological, medical and physical sciences, including clinicians, mathematicians and computer scientists.
Candidates should have or expect an upper second-class degree (2:1) in a STEM subject. If applicants possess a lower second class (2:2), a research-based MSc at merit or distinction level is required.
If English is not your first language you will be required to provide evidence that you meet the minimum English requirements, Band D, as prescribed by the university’s English Language requirements.
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.
WE ARE NO LONGER ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR 2023 ENROLMENT. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO APPLY TO THIS PROGRAMME, PLEASE CHECK BACK ON THIS PAGE IN OCTOBER 2023.
To apply, please visit the King’s Apply website at King’s online application portal and follow the steps outlined below. Applications to close at 23:59 (GMT) on the closing date given below.
NB: There is no need to complete the Research Proposal section in your application.
Please make sure your application is fully completed by the application deadline. Note that references will not be requested by King's until you have submitted your application, so you will need to submit your application in advance of the deadline to ensure that references have been received by the closing date given below.
Only shortlisted applicants will be contacted. Please make sure you are available on the interview dates listed below.
As part of the 4 year PhD Programme in Neurodevelopmental Disorders, during the course of their PhD project, students will be able to undertake short-term placements. Examples of collaborator laboratories are listed below.
Students wishing to complete a placement are asked to submit an application form to the MRC CNDD Post Graduate Administrator, Stefania Boscolo. Your application will be assessed by a committee and you can expect to hear the outcome of your application within 4-6 weeks from submission. Applications may be made at any time.