Research themes for MRC DTP StudentshipsAn explanation of the three themes, along with example projects are given below. Some projects fall within more than one theme, and these lists are for guidance purposes only. Project titles are taken from current MRC DTP projects and are not necessarily available for new students to undertake.

Informatics for health

Informatics for Health is a multidisciplinary theme that aims to improve health care and disease treatment through studies that involve bioinformatics, information science, computer science, behavioural and brain science, management sciences, and others. These approaches will, together, facilitate the understanding of the aetiopathogenesis of human diseases and will provide a framework that will enhance our knowledge of disease mechanisms and their underlying biochemical and genetic defects. The projects in the Informatics for Health theme ultimately aim to lead to improved treatments, preventive approaches, patient stratification and the personalisation of therapy.

Examples of projects within the informatics for health theme:

  • Space-Time Bayesian models for disease surveillance in small areas
  • Phylodynamic Analysis of the Transmission and Evolution of Poliovirus and Other RNA Viruses
  • Computational regulatory genomics
  • Metabolomics and Colorectal Cancer

Experimental medicine

Experimental medicine is a broad term that the MRC refers to as: “Investigation undertaken in humans, relating where appropriate to model systems, to identify mechanisms of pathophysiology or disease, or to demonstrate proof-of-concept evidence of the validity and importance of new discoveries or treatments.” The Experimental Medicine theme aims to facilitate work that precedes and informs the development of new therapies, therapeutic strategies and early and late stage clinical trials. The effective translation of results from experimental medicine studies and the generation of new hypotheses to understand human disease are important outcomes for the projects undertaken in this theme.

Examples of projects within the experimental medicine theme:

  • A comparative study of the metabonomic and drug metabolite profiles of tienilic acid and tienilic acid isomer
  • The regulation of integration and expression of the HTLV-1 provirus in the genome
  • Object and spatial working memory substrates used in mental rotation
  • Investigating primordial follicle recruitment in the mammalian (mouse) ovary and implications for human ovarian disorders
  • Epigenetic Biomarkers for the Stratification of Ovarian Cancer

Infection and antimicrobial theme

The control of bacterial infections is without a doubt one of the greatest achievements of modern medicine. While antibiotic chemotherapy is an effective treatment for bacterial infections, the extensive misuse and overuse of antibiotics in medicine, and their use as growth promoters in livestock, have collectively led to the emergence and spread of anti-microbial resistance (AMR), including the recent emergence of resistance to last-resort antibiotics. Globally, 700,000 deaths per year are attributed to infections involving antibiotic resistant pathogens, with this figure predicted to rise to 10 million by 2050, at an estimated economic cost of $100.2 trillion to the world GDP. A major reason for the lack of success in modern antibiotic discovery is the misunderstanding of the intricacy of AMR and the impact of antibiotic treatment on the in vivo environment of the host and the pathogen during infection with resistant pathogens. Accordingly, in parallel to improving existing drugs and searching for new antibiotics, there is an urgent need to develop new and innovative approaches to enhance our understanding of infection and AMR. These are the areas the Infection and Anti-Microbial research theme will address.

Examples of projects within the infection and antimicrobial theme:

  • Development of a novel tuberculosis diagnostic test using nanoparticle detection of a whole blood multigene RNA expression signature
  • The spatiotemporal dynamics of dengue fever and implications for control
  • In vitro and in vivo evolution of Influenza virus
  • Oral Vaccine Failure in Lower-Income Countries: Influence of Enteric Interference on the Immunogenicity of Oral Poliovirus Vaccine