University of Cambridge

Job Opportunities


PhD studentship in blood donor health

A 3-year studentship in the application of using internationally unique datasets to address questions of relevance to the needs of the blood service (NHS Blood and Transplant; NHSBT).

The studentship is funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Blood and Transplant Research Unit (BTRU) in Donor Health and Behaviour at the University of Cambridge.

Background: Donated blood is a crucial resource for healthcare systems, enabling blood transfusions that save millions of lives every year around the world. But the evidence needed to improve the safety and efficiency of blood donation is weak and underdeveloped, risking harm and waste. The BTRU conducts research to address major challenges identified by NHSBT.

One aim of the BTRU - Safety of Blood Donation - is to make donation safer by developing and evaluating novel strategies to mitigate adverse health effects of blood donation and maintain donor health. This aim will be achieved by leveraging existing data resources, new qualitative studies and proof-of-concept trials. Specific short-term aims are to evaluate and develop strategies to prevent adverse health effects of blood donation and identify subgroups of donors more likely to benefit from preventive strategies.

A second aim of the BTRU - Efficiency of Blood Donation - is to make donation more sustainable by developing personalised approaches, such as tailoring recruitment and retention of donors to optimise blood collection while maintaining donors' health. This aim will be achieved through a series of analyses involving biomarkers and genetic data, microsimulation studies and proof-of-concept trials. Specific short-term aims are to develop "post-donation" strategies to assess haemoglobin levels in blood donors and tailor blood donation practices to donor's characteristics and ability to give blood.

Projects: Examples of research projects include gathering observational data, designing trials, risk prediction, plasma donation or vasovagal reactions (fainting). Projects can be discussed and designed with the supervisors.

Research environment: The PhD studentship will be hosted at the Department of Public Health and Primary Care (, which hosts the BTRU in Donor Health and Behaviour. The BTRU is currently running the STRIDES study ( and has a bioresource of internationally unique datasets combining: (1) large numbers of blood donors, (2) detailed genomic and biochemical data, (3) extensive haematological traits, (4) ascertainment of donation-related health outcomes and linkage with multiple e-health records (e.g., hospital and primary care records) and (5) ability to re-contact subsets of donors for "in-depth" studies.

The PhD studentship will be supervised by either Professor Emanuele Di Angelantonio or Professor Angela Wood.

The student will be encouraged to integrate into the BTRU and STRIDES study teams, and to work with our academic and clinical partners to ensure their work could have real-world impact.

Value to the student: The student will develop valuable skills in epidemiology, biostatistics, machine learning, data manipulation, programming in statistical software packages (e.g., R, Stata) and handling and analysis of large-scale data (including OMICs and electronic health records).

Our strategy is to train researchers to work fluently across quantitative and qualitative domains, and to have a deep appreciation of the behavioural, clinical, biological and policy issues facing blood donation and blood services. The student will benefit from opportunities to network across institutions (Cambridge, Nottingham and Oxford) and blood services (NHSBT and the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood), make connections with staff/students within other BTRUs and participate in Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) activities (e.g., involving the public in your research and presenting work at public events). The student will have access to courses across the partner universities, including modules on epidemiology, applied data analysis and clinical trials.

Requirements: Applicants should have (or expect to obtain by the start date) at least a good 2:1 Bachelor's degree (and preferably a Masters degree) with a strong quantitative component (e.g., statistics, epidemiology, public health, biostatistics, mathematics, data science, informatics).

Benefits: We invite applications from UK and non-UK students. Each studentships provides a stipend of £16,062 per year for 3 years. UK-level tuition fees are covered; other applicants will need to secure additional funding for overseas student fees. Please ensure you meet the University of Cambridge entrance requirements - visit:

Enquiries: We welcome informal discussions about these studentships. Please contact Professor Emanuele Di Angelantonio (safety of blood donation): and/or Professor Angela Wood (efficiency of blood donation):

To apply, please visit: and click 'Apply Now'.

Course details: PhD in Public Health and Primary Care (full-time)

Start Date: Flexible

Supervisors: Professor Emanuele Di Angelantonio and Professor Angela Wood

Research Title: PhD studentship in blood donor health

Reference: RH33797

In order to apply for this opportunity, you will need:

  • Details of two academic referees (references will be taken up immediately).
  • Transcript(s)
  • CV/resume
  • Evidence of competence in English If required
  • Statement of Interest outlining your suitability, why you are interested in a PhD in this area, your background and research interests

Interview and selection process

The deadline for application is 31st March 2023

Please quote reference RH33797 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society.

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