• PhD Projects for 2019

Training - PhD Projects for 2019


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Applications for the projects below are now open

Please note that interviews for the projects listed below will take place on Tuesday 9 July

To join us as a Clinical Research Training Fellow, you will be a post-registration clinician, ideally with a specialist training post. You will receive running expenses, an appropriate salary and full coverage of university tuition fees.

A first or an upper second honours degree or the overseas equivalent will be vital for Non-Clinical Studentships. Your award will include running costs, tuition fees and a generous annual stipend.

Please see here for full instructions on how to apply.


1) Economic issues in the delivery and organisation of services for early detection of cancer
Lead supervisor: Professor Matt Sutton
Co-supervisors: Dr David Shackley, Dr Jonathan Stokes, Dr Rachel Meacock
Closes: 23 June
Technological and service innovations are leading to earlier detection of cancers to reduce the treatment, morbidity and mortality burdens associated with late diagnosis. This will change the volume and composition of patients presenting to services, and will require increases in service responsiveness, re-alignment of financial incentives and changes to the workforce.
This PhD will address three of the key economic issues raised by earlier detection of cancer. It will consider how: 
(i) waiting times standards influence when care is provided, to whom and with what outcomes; 
(ii) changes to the way that care providers are paid affect the amount of care provided, to which types of patients and with what cost consequences for the NHS;
(iii) a shift to earlier detection of cancer creates changes to the types of workers that the NHS will require.
These topics are highly policy relevant and the findings of these studies will be expected to have national and international impact, as well as stimulating a new research agenda for the future. 
The student will be supervised by a team of health economists and cancer experts and will be based within an inter-disciplinary research group. They will gain expertise in the use of applied econometric techniques and non-experimental evaluation methods and experience of using large, linked administrative and survey datasets. The studentship includes funding for training courses and for conference attendance and dissemination.
The PhD studentship will equip the student with transferable and generalisable skills in applied economics and with expert knowledge in the economics of early detection of cancer.


2) Breast cancer risk assessment and screening for young women at high risk: Developing care pathways and assessing feasibility
Lead supervisor: Professor David French
Co-supervisors: Dr Sacha Howell, Dr Louise Gorman
Closes: 16 June
Breast Cancer (BC) is the commonest cause of death in women under 50 years with the incidence increasing exponentially through the 30s and 40s. For women at pre-screening ages (30-45), BC is less common but more frequently lethal (77% 10year survival <40 vs 87% >50).  At least 70% of women who develop BC do not have a family history and thus are not known to be at risk. Reaching these women represents a major unmet need. 
The present research forms part of a programme of work to produce a breast cancer risk prediction system that can be accessed by all women as they turn 30 years.  These women will be able to access an electronic platform that explains BC risk assessment and facilitates risk questionnaire completion and facilitates collection of DNA from saliva, to allow BC risk assessment.  Those women with high enough risk, or in whom a dense mammogram would result in entering NICE defined moderate or high-risk groups, would be invited for low dose risk assessment mammography.  Overall BC risk and suitability for NICE defined screening and prevention programmes discussed.
This PhD studentship focusses on developing acceptable care pathways for this new approach to early detection of breast cancer, and an examination of psychological impact.  Building on PPI work it will involve interviewing GPs to develop care pathways that “fit” with usual practice.  It will involve producing new materials for engagement and communication of results, using materials developed in PROCAS/PROCAS2 at templates.  Interviews with women will ensure that materials are acceptable and comprehensible.
The PhD research will finish with evaluation of the effects on this approach on outcomes such as satisfaction, anxiety and informed choices, to establish its feasibility.  This will also involve a larger questionnaire study and further interviews with healthcare professionals and participating women.