Wellcome Trust, Ph.D.

  • N/A
    Application Deadline
  • 48 months
  • Tuition
  • English (take IELTS)
University rank #101 ,
The results from the various genome projects are providing a wealth of information on nucleic acid and protein sequences. Identification and manipulation of the roles of these molecules in the living cell is the next important challenge. A detailed understanding of their three dimensional structures, folding, interactions with other biomolecules, assembly into multi-subunit complexes and their structure/function relationships is an essential step towards this goal. This is the focus of our 4 Year PhD Programme.


The Molecular Basis of Biological Mechanisms

The results from the various genome projects are providing a wealth of information on nucleic acid and protein sequences. Identification and manipulation of the roles of these molecules in the living cell is the next important challenge. A detailed understanding of their three dimensional structures, folding, interactions with other biomolecules, assembly into multi-subunit complexes and their structure/function relationships is an essential step towards this goal. This is the focus of our 4 Year PhD Programme.

PhD in Wellcome Trust at University of Leeds is focussed on important biological questions, and will train students in the wide range of techniques in cell biology, biological chemistry and biophysics that are needed to push back the frontiers in these topical areas. Students accepted onto the programme will have unique opportunities to develop practical skills and a deep understanding of modern techniques, their principles and applications through taught courses in the first year. Students will then undertake a full research project in years 2-4, selecting from the wide range of topics offered by the programme's supervisors, and are able to tailor-make their project of choice.

Why four years?

The application of structural biological methods to complex biological problems is an exciting, rapidly expanding field. As a result of this expansion, there exists a plethora of concepts and techniques which cannot readily be assimilated in a conventional three-year PhD programme. The four year PhD will equip the student with skills in important state-of-the-art techniques ranging from biophysical methods to functional aspects and cell biology. The taught modules and laboratory rotations in the first year of the four-year programme also provide a 'flavour' of research in more than one laboratory. Thus students on the programme are ideally prepared to undertake cutting-edge research projects in the years that follow.

Outline of the Programme

The first year consists of taught courses and research laboratory placements. The former are arranged in a series of modules comprising seminars and practical workshops. These are taught throughout the first year. The course begins with a foundation module that introduces concepts and techniques in biophysics. This is then followed by a further seven modules which focus on research areas of strength at Leeds, namely:

  1. Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Design
  2. Structure and Function of Nucleic Acids
  3. Folding and Assembly
  4. Biocatalysis
  5. Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
  6. Membranes
  7. Emerging Techniques

In addition, a series of modules are available which deal with transferable skills including research methodology, PhD project management, effective poster presentation, and many others. These are run either within the Faculty or by the University Staff and Departmental Development Unit

In parallel with the above modules, students will undertake three short laboratory research projects in year 1 in order to gain experience with a wide range of practical techniques. On the basis of the experience so gained, students will decide upon and plan their PhD project with input from an academic advisor. This project will most likely be interdisciplinary in nature and could involve more than one supervisor. The PhD research project is undertaken full-time in years 2-4.

Detailed Programme Facts

  • Deadline and start date Application deadline and start date were not specified by the programme.
  • Programme intensity

    You can choose to do this programme part-time or full-time.

    • Duration 48 months
  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode
    On Campus

Programme Structure

Research Areas

Students on the 4-year PhD programme experience a range of areas and techniques during the foundation year before choosing their final PhD project. There are many opportunities to study the moleecular basis of disease. Research projects span the biophysical analysis of the fundamental principles and processes behind protein-protein and protein-nucleic acid interactions, the physical and chemical manipulation and disection of biological mechanisms, and the application of this fundmental knowledge to understand the biological processes in living cells.

Specific examples include (i) bioinformatics and mathematical/computational biology; (ii) chemical genetics and chemical biology including mechanistic enzymology; (iii) molecular biophysics icluding protein folding and protein conformational analysis and their role in protein misfolding diseases; (iv) structure elucidation including important proteins involved in viral infection and replication and immune evasion and (v) biomolecular interactions in vivo and in vitro.


Programme Supervisor Profiles

The following is a list of Wellcome Trust 4-year PhD Supervisors and their research interests:

  • Prof Alison Ashcroft - Mass Spectrometry; Proteins; Macromolecular biomolecules; Protein structure
  • Dr John Barr - Gene expression of negative strand RNA viruses; virus-host interactions of lethal emerging viruses
  • Dr Paul Beales - Membrane biophysics, nanomedicine, synthetic biology, directed assembly.
  • Prof Alan Berry - Protein design, enzyme redesign, directed evolution, biocatalysis
  • Dr Robin Bon - Chemical biology, protein labelling, organic synthesis, surface chemistry
  • Prof Alex Breeze - NMR spectroscopy; structural biology; chemical biology and drug design; cell signalling and oncology
  • Dr David Brockwell - Single molecule mechanical unfolding of proteins and their complexes
  • Prof Jim Deuchars - In vivo targeted molecular delivery, roles of membrane proteins (ion channels, receptors, transporters) in neuronal behaviour
  • Dr Lorna Dougan - Life in extreme environments, single molecule protein folding
  • Dr Thomas Edwards - Structural Biology; RNA:protein interactions; molecular control of embryogenesis
  • Prof Stephen Evans - AFM studies of lipid membranes , Single molecule spectroscopy studies of membrane proteins
  • Prof Colin Fishwick - Organic synthesis, Synthetic method, Bio-organic chemistry, Self assembly, Drug Design
  • Prof Adrian Goldman - Membrane pumps, integral membrane protein folding, and signalling events at the cell surface
  • Prof Mark Harris - Virus-host cell interactions in HIV-1 and Hepatitis C virus
  • Dr Sarah Harris - Computer modelling of biological macromolecules
  • Dr Eric Hewitt - Molecular immunology, membrane trafficking, interaction of amyloid with cells, membrane proteins, protein folding and assembly
  • Dr Lars Jeuken - Bioelectrochemistry (protein-film voltammetry), redox-active membrane proteins
  • Dr Lin-Hua Jiang - Structure-function, regulation and physiological roles of TRPM2 and P2X7 channels
  • Prof John Ladbury - Molecular mechanisms of cell signalling. Structure-function of tyrosine kinase-mediated interactions. Cancer therapeutic targets.
  • Dr Andrew Macdonald - virus-host interactions in cancer and kidney disease
  • Dr Kenneth McDowall - RNA degradation
  • Prof Mike McPherson - Copper oxidases and protein engineering
  • Dr Stephen Muench - Structural biology, Membrane proteins and drug design
  • Prof Adam Nelson - Synthesis of biomolecules
  • Dr Alex ONeill - Antibiotic resistance, antibacterial drug discovery/ evaluation
  • Dr Emanuele Paci - Protein Folding, Computer Simulation, Molecular Dynamics
  • Prof Michelle Peckham - Bio-imaging, Cell Biology, Muscle structure and differentiation, Molecular Motors
  • Prof Sheena Radford - Protein folding and misfolding
  • Dr Neil Ranson - Study of molecular chaperones by cryo-EM
  • Dr Asipu Sivapasadarao - Ion channels: structure-function, cell biology, genetic basis of diseases and drug discovery
  • Prof Peter Stockley - Protein-nucleic acid interactions; molecular virology; transcriptional control
  • Prof Nicola Stonehouse - Viral assembly mechanisms
  • Dr Chris Thomas - Plasmid replication, mobilisation and the maintenance of extrachromosomal DNA
  • Prof John Trinick - Molecular machines and electron microscopy
  • Dr Roman Tuma - Virus, self-assembly, molecular motors, optical tweezers
  • Dr Andrew Tuplin - Dengue/Chikungunya virus intracellular RNA structure, host cell interactions and molecular switching.
  • Dr Bruce Turnbull - Carbohydrate chemistry & glycobiology
  • Dr Stuart Warriner - Synthesis of biomolecules
  • Dr Michael Webb - Chemical Biology, Enzymology and Primary Metabolism
  • Prof David Westhead - Bioinformatics
  • Prof Adrian Whitehouse - Virus-host cell interactions, protein-protein and protein-nucleic acid interactions
  • Prof Andy Wilson - Synthetic chemistry, Supramolecular chemistry, Chemical Biology, Protein-protein interactions
  • Dr Anastasia Zhuravleva - Molecular chaperones, allosteric signal propagation, structural biology, nuclear magnetic resonance

Some staff on the approved list of supervisors are not taking any new students, but are continuing to supervise existing students

  • Prof Steve Baldwin - Membrane trafficking and solute transport
  • Dr Stan Burgess - Molecular machines, motors and electron microscopy
  • Prof Peter Henderson - Membrane transport proteins
  • Prof Peter Knight - Structual basis of movement in cell and tissues

English Language Requirements

This programme requires students to demonstrate proficiency in English.

Take IELTS test

Academic Requirements

Our principal aim is to attract students of the highest intellectual quality who are excited by the molecular and structural biology revolution and by the prospect of a demanding multidisciplinary programme. In return we can offer a stimulating and challenging environment. Students with at least a 2.1 degree in any area of the life sciences and physical sciences, including Biochemistry, Physics, Chemistry and related disciplines are invited to apply.

Applications for places in October 2015 - Competition now open. An application form is available on the 'How to Apply' page.

The deadline for applications will be 5pm on Tuesday 6th Jan 2015.
Interviews will be held on Monday 2nd and Tuesday 3rd Feb 2015. Please try to keep those dates available for interview.

Applicants of any nationality are eligible to apply but the award only covers living expenses plus fees at the UK/EU rate. Students from outside the EU will have to provide evidence of the ability to pay the difference between the EU rate and the full international rate. One scholarship per year is available to cover fees for outstanding international (non-EU) students.

The studentship covers:

  • Annual Stipend of £19,919-£23,997*
  • All University fees for home/EU students
  • £2000 travel expenses for attendance at conferences
  • £12000 p.a. for lab consumables
  • Funds for generic skills training
  • Access to all research facilities
* Stipend and funds correct at time of printing (December 2013.) May be subject to change.

Tuition Fee


We hold a prestigious Wellcome Trust-funded 4-year PhD programme entitled "The Molecular Basis of Biological Mechanisms". Studentships are available on this prestigious programme for five highly motivated students with at least a 2.1 degree in any area of the life or physical sciences, including Biochemistry, Chemistry, Physics and related disciplines.

StudyPortals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.