A Unique PhD Opportunity in Cancer Research for Medical Students


The Cancer Research UK Convergence Science Centre between Imperial College and Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) brings together world leading expertise in the clinical, life, engineering, physical and natural sciences. The merging of these distinct fields has enormous potential to impact all areas of cancer from prevention to detection and improving treatments. This ambition will be realised partly through training the next generation of clinical academics who will become leaders in accelerating new methodologies and technologies that will benefit patients.

We are pleased to announce an exciting intercalated PhD (iPhD) Programme in cancer research. The Programme is for outstanding undergraduate students on the MBBS/BSc degree course and offers them the opportunity to include a PhD as part of their course. The PhD consists of 3 years research to be undertaken after the successful completion of the intercalated BSc (iBSc) Programme in year 4 of the MBBS degree. Students will re-enter undergraduate medical education at year 5 after the completion of the PhD training.

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4


  iPhD Years


Year 5

Year 6





Year 1

Year 2

Year 3




The iPhD is fully funded by Cancer Research UK, inclusive of a generous stipend (£21,000 per annum), tuition fees for UK and EU students and the cost for undertaking research. None UK/EU students are also eligible; however, they will be required to make up the difference for the cost of overseas tuition fees. 

Are you the right candidate?

If you are a year 3 medical student applying to the iBSc Programme for commencement in September 2020, the iPhD is for you. Although there are several iBSc pathways, we welcome interest from students applying to any of the pathways. However, the opportunity to complete the research component of the iBSc year in cancer research will exist for those applying for the Cancer Frontiers pathway.

What are the benefits of undertaking the iPhD in cancer?

World class training - students will be trained by world leading experts in cancer biology, engineering and physical sciences at Imperial and the ICR. This will enable them to acquire a broad skill set and learn the language of multiple disciplines. 

Opportunities to publish - it is anticipated that their research projects will lead to publications and presentation of their work at relevant conferences.

Dedicated mentorship - students will receive tailored mentorship from reputable cancer clinicians who will provide guidance on successfully navigating the PhD years, becoming a clinical academic and establishing a successful career in medicine.

Are there examples of the research projects that will be available?

You can access examples of the type of projects that you could expect to undertake  here using your College username and password or by emailing icr-imperial-convergence.centre@imperial.ac.uk. If you require further information about the projects, we are happy to arrange for you to meet the academics behind them.  

How does the recruitment process work?

The recruitment process comprises 3 stages to maximise student participation and involvement.

Stage 1

Imperial and ICR academics submit research project summaries; the purpose of the submission is to showcase the research opportunities that are available for prospective students. A list of project summaries can be found here  or by sending an email to icr-imperial-convergence.centre@imperial.ac.uk.

Stage 2

Students commencing the iBSc year review the project summaries and identify 3 projects that they would like to undertake if interested to do a PhD. After review, the top 3  preferences including your name should be submitted to icr-imperial-convergence.centre@imperial.ac.uk for the attention of Dr Garrick Wilson by 7 September 2020. The project supervisors will be informed of your wish to undertake their projects and will arrange meetings with you to discuss the opportunity in person. 

Stage 3

After meeting with the supervisors, students will rank their preferred project in order of 1 to 3 and submit rankings to icr-imperial-convergence.centre@imperial.ac.uk by 12 October 2020. Your preferred choice for supervisor will be informed, and should they agree, you will work with them as a partner between January and April 2021 to develop a comprehensive PhD project proposal. The proposal will be reviewed by a panel of experts who will make judgements on scientific quality and suitability for a PhD. Finally, an interview will be arranged for shortlisted students, which will include the student and supervisory team to explore the quality, suitability and feasibility of the project for a PhD, the support provided by the supervisory team and the motivations of the student to undertake a PhD.

If a student is unsuccessful in gaining their top choice of project, their second choice will also be made available to them.

Are you uncertain about scientific research?

Flexibility underpins the iPhD Programme; we are cognisant that not all students will immediately decide to do research. Therefore, the opportunity also extends to students who may become enthusiastic about scientific research during their 15-week iBSc research project which starts in January 2021. At this stage students could either submit a proposal with their iBSc project supervisor providing it is in an area of cancer research (this project could be an extension of the iBSc research) or ask to review a list of available projects. Students would then follow the ranking process as outlined in stage 3 and work with the supervisors to build a full PhD proposal for submission in April 2020.

Further information

For more information on this exciting opportunity, please visit our webpage or send an email to icr-imperial-convergence.centre@imperial.ac.uk for the attention of Dr Garrick Wilson.