University of Cambridge PhD Studentship in Biostatistics/Applied Statistics, UK

Publish Date: Dec 21, 2015

Deadline: Jan 10, 2016

University of Cambridge PhD Studentship in Biostatistics/Applied Statistics

A PhD studentship in Biostatistics/Applied Statistics is available in a new interdisciplinary research programme in population health and genomics. The studentship will focus on developing stratified approaches to recommending the intervals at which particular groups of blood donors should be able to give blood. The project will be based on the INTERVAL study, a major randomized trial in which 50,000 male and female blood donors in the UK are randomized to give blood at, or more frequently than, the standard intervals (8 and 10 weeks vs the standard 12-weeks for men, and 12 and 14 weeks vs the standard 16-weeks for women). The outcomes in the trial are the amount of blood collected over the two years of the trial, the number of deferrals (temporary rejection of a donor due to low haemoglobin), quality of life and adverse events. In addition to the overall comparison of randomised groups, interest centres on whether different inter-donation intervals should be recommended for people with different characteristics (e.g. by age, weight, blood biomarkers, or genetic characteristics).

It is envisaged this studentship will involve:

delineating which donors benefit most based on single and multiple baseline characteristics;

developing statistical methodology for model selection and data reduction techniques;

examining methods for internal and/or external validation of such stratified groupings;

incorporating complex genetic information into stratification schemes;

comparing simple and complex stratification schemes both in terms of their overall efficiency in increasing benefit/decreasing harm, and in terms of their potential for practical implementation.

The research project would be suitable for a student wishing to develop skills in statistical methodology or applied statistics. Findings from the study will have major implications for blood donation policies in the UK and internationally. Eligible students will have obtained a Masters or equivalent in a related field (eg, medical statistics) and will have an excellent first degree (2:1 or higher). Exceptional students without a Masters may also be considered.

The programme is part of the newly-formed National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Unit in Donor Health and Genomics based at the University of Cambridge (

Candidates will work across world-leading institutes in population health sciences and genomics, and gain direct experience of NHS Blood and Transplant, an innovative high-throughput component of the National Health Service. Specifically, the candidate will be supervised by Dr Michael Sweeting and Prof Simon Thompson, and will be embedded within a larger multidisciplinary team offering ample opportunities for training.

Informal enquiries should be directed to Dr Michael Sweeting at

Beginning in October 2016 (or earlier by mutual agreement) candidates may pursue either a 3-year PhD (subject to having an appropriate Masters degree) or a 4-year PhD, with Masters degree training in a relevant subject during the first year. Ideal candidates will have outstanding academic abilities combined with strong interpersonal and communication skills in order to make the most of interdisciplinary training opportunities.

Support includes a generous tax-free annual stipend (£17,500), University fees at the Home/EU rate, research expenses and some travel costs.

Applications for this scheme should include:

  • A CV, including full details of all University courses taken with date, with grades if available.

  • The names and contact details of three academic referees.

  • A covering letter (up to 500 words) explaining why you wish to be considered for this particular studentship, what you will bring to the project and listing any relevant research experience to date.


The scheme is open to nationals from all countries, but fees can only be provided at the Home/EU rate. Applicants should have excellent grades (ideally a first-class degree or distinction in a Masters degree) in a subject that relates to the goals of the Research Unit (eg, biostatistics).

Further information, including details of specific projects are available at

Applications should be emailed to Sean Hickin ( All applications must be received by midnight on 10th January 2016. Earlier applications are encouraged. Shortlisted candidates can expect to be interviewed week commencing 18th January 2016 Please quote reference RH07695 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.

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