University of Cambridge

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MRC Four Year (1+3) PhD Programme in Stem Cell Biology & Medicine -`The Physical Biology of Stem Cells'

This Programme is targeted to applicants with a Physical Sciences, Mathematical or Computational Sciences background, interested in applying their training to stem cell biology.

Physical Biology of Stem Cells - Stem cells are defined by their capacity to self-renew and differentiate into somatic cells. Great inroads have been made towards understanding how stem cells generate tissue and sustain cell turnover, most of which have been made by studying the biochemistry of stem cells. Less is known of their function across scales - from molecules to tissue - or interaction with their physical environment.

We aim to identify the importance of physical, chemical, mathematical and engineering considerations in stem cell functionality. This could include mathematical modelling, engineering controlled environments to control stem cell function, single molecule approaches to study molecular interactions, systems biology, or investigating stem cell's response to forces in its environment. The research generated by this studentship should provide new foundations for biomedical discovery and clinical applications in regenerative medicine.

Programme Overview

During the first year students will:

  • Perform laboratory rotations in three different participating groups working on both basic and translational stem cell biology.
  • Study fundamental aspects of Stem Cell Biology through a series of teaching modules led by leaders in the field.
  • Learn a variety of techniques, such as advanced imaging, flow cytometry, and management of complex data sets.

Students are expected to choose a laboratory for their thesis research by June 2019, and will then write a research proposal to be assessed for the MRes Degree in Stem Cell Biology. This assessment will also be used to determine whether students continue on to a 3-year PhD.

Eligibility - We welcome applications from those who hold (or expect to receive) a relevant degree, with a Physical Sciences, Mathematical or Computational Sciences background. You must have a passion for scientific research.

The Medical Research Council provide full funding for UK applicants only. Applicants from EU countries other than the UK, are generally eligible for a fees-only award. Please check your eligibility status at before applying.

Please visit: for full details, including how to apply.

Application Deadline: 4 January 2018

Interviews will be held late January/early February 2018

Enquiries are also welcome via email to

Please quote reference PS13649 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

The University values diversity and is committed to equality of opportunity.

The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.

Further information