FAQs for potential supervisors

What is MultiSci?

MultiSci is a new 4.5 year MRC-funded doctoral training programme (DTP) which focuses on three key, interdisciplinary strategic research themes - The Battle Against Infections, Understanding Disease Mechanisms in Humans, Realising the Power of Big Data to Improve Health. Our aim is to stimulate the creation of a new generation of life-scientists equipped with the quantitative, technological, and bioscience skills required to conduct cutting edge research across the fundamental and applied medical biosciences. We will also supports students in developing the broader personal and professional skills and attributes needed to develop leading careers, in academia or elsewhere.

How many MultiSci students will there be?

8 students have been recruited for the 2022/23 intake. All have expressed interest in undertaking their PhDs in one or more of MultiSci’s three key, interdisciplinary strategic research themes - The Battle Against Infections, Understanding Disease Mechanisms in Humans, Realising the Power of Big Data to Improve Health.

How is MultiSci structured?

MultiSci is a 1+3.5 year programme. In the first year, students undertake the MRes Biomedical Research programme, which is based in the Faculty of Medicine. In 2022-23, during the MRes year, we expect MultiSci students to explore potential labs and supervisors for their PhD. Subsequently, student registration will transfer to the Faculty/department in which they are undertaking their PhD research.

I’m interested in supervising a MultiSci DTP PhD student – when will there be a project call?

There are no project calls for the MultiSci DTP programme. This is a student-led programme where the award is made to students, who will identify a lab they would like to undertake their PhD in and develop a suitable project in partnership with the supervisors. The MultiSci leadership team can provide advice to both students and potential supervisors on this and will review all projects and partnerships before approving.

How will students find potential labs and supervisors for their PhDs?

In order to help MultiSci students start exploring the range of research groups at Imperial, we have compiled a list of researchers with interest in MultiSci’s three key, interdisciplinary strategic research themes - The Battle Against Infections, Understanding Disease Mechanisms in Humans, Realising the Power of Big Data to Improve Health. If you would like to be added to this list, and have your details shared with the 8 students who will start in 2022, please submit a summary of your research interests and key words via this short form by 26th September 2022. We will update this link and list annually.

Students may also identify researchers they are interested in working with through PWP/publication searches and make contact directly. Similarly, the MultiSci students will prepare PWP-like profiles for themselves once they have started, and these will be linked to the MultiSci website as soon as they are available.

In their first year, MultiSci DTP students will undertake the MRes Biomedical Research programme during which they will experience different labs/groups and research through rotations. As such, submitting a project for this programme is another way to let MultiSci students know about your research. However, there is no requirement for MultiSci students to have completed an MRes project in the lab they will do their PhD in.

I’m interested in hosting a MultiSci student for one of their MRes rotations. Can you guarantee this if I submit a project to that call?

No. MultiSci PhD student will be included in the same process for project allocation as all other students on the MRes Biomedical Research programme. Allocations are 100% driven by student preferences, and if you submit a project you must be prepared to take a non-MultiSci student if one is allocated to your project. All students on the MRes are high calibre science graduates, most with prior lab/research experience, who are likely to pursue a PhD and would be a great addition to your group.

How do I submit a project to the MRes Biomedical Research programme, and how does project allocation work?

If you would be interested in providing a project to the MRes Biomedical Research (BMR), please register your interest here and we will pass on your details to the MRes team for their next call. There are usually two calls per year, one in July (for project 1 start in October) and the second before project 2 starts in March. Each project is approx. 5 months in length.

The MRes BMR team always allocate projects according to student preference, aiming to give the most students their highest preference. Supervisors are not allowed to choose students.

There are eight streams on the MRes, and you will be asked to specify a priority stream for your project when you submit it. Students get priority for projects listed for the stream they enrol on. For example, if students on both the General BMR and the Data Science (DS) streams put a DS project as their first choice, this will be allocated to the DS student (unless another DS student has also done so).

A MultiSci student has contacted me to arrange a specific MRes project. Is this allowed?

Yes. In addition to being provided with a project list, all students can set up their own projects and often do this if there is a particular topic/group they want to work with. Direct, early stage discussions between MutiSci students and potential supervisors to do this are encouraged as they can be used to establish bespoke MRes project opportunities without the need to take part in BMR project calls. In this case, the project (once approved by the MRes team) would not be offered to other MRes students, but immediately allocated to the specific student that contacted you.

Am I eligible to supervise a MultiSci student for their PhD?

We ask students to ensure that their primary supervisor is at least a Senior Lecturer and an experienced PhD supervisor (i.e. has led PhD students to completion). However, students will not be assigned to sole supervisors, and a second supervisor is compulsory. If the proposed primary supervisor is not sufficiently experienced, or is below Senior Lecturer level, the MultiSci DTP leadership team will usually request that co-supervision is provided by a more senior and experienced academic.

If you are already supervising a MRC DTP studentship recipient, you are not eligible to be primary supervisor for a MultiSci student.

MultiSci PhD supervisors and research projects cannot be based within the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (as this runs a separate MRC-supported PhD programme).

Regardless of prior experience, all supervisors will be required to have completed the Cornerstone ‘Fundamentals of Supervising PhD Students’ online course before a MultiSci PhD project commences.

Please note, that the above requirements are subject to change, and individual circumstances of prospective supervisors will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

I don’t work in the Faculty of Medicine – can I still supervise a MultiSci student PhD?

Yes. Although based in the Faculty of Medicine, the MultiSci DTP progamme is an interdisciplinary training programme (its full name is ‘Imperial College London MRC DTP for Interdisciplinary Science in Health’!). It focuses on three key, interdisciplinary strategic areas (The Battle Against Infections, Understanding Disease Mechanisms in Humans, Realising the Power of Big Data to Improve Health) and MultiSci PhD projects must aligns with one of these, regardless of what Faculty supervisors are based in.

What funding does the MultiSci PhD studentship package include?

The MultiSci studentship covers:

  • Payment of tuition fees at home level.
  • A student stipend maintenance award of £19,668* per annum (1.0 FTE).
  • A research training support grant of £5,000* per annum, paid to the supervisor for supporting the student’s training and research (not applicable for Master's year).
  • Payment of Completing Research Status fee of £200 to allow registration as a writing-up student.
  • A conference fund of £300 per annum to facilitate registration and attendance at conferences and scientific meetings (not applicable for Master's year).
  • Supplement funds to support a wide range of research and training activities including internships, high-cost training and outreach.

* enhanced during PhD years if converted to an iCASE studentship.

Is an industry partner required for a MultiSci DTP PhD project?

No, but we strongly encourage projects in collaboration with industry partners. Where appropriate, there may be the opportunity to convert these to iCASE studentships.

Will MultiSci students be required to undertake any programme-specific training during their PhD projects?

Yes. Students will be required to attend training and development activities (e.g., workshops, retreats), equating to approx. 2 days per month, during each year of their PhD projects. These will relate to the overall goal of the MultiSci DTP programme to support a new generation of life-scientists equipped with the quantitative, technological bioscience and broader skills required to develop leading careers in academia, industry and elsewhere. Personal development and well-being activities will also be facilitated by the MultiSci team. Students will be expected to manage their time and workload accordingly to attend these while keeping up with their research commitments. 

I know a great student who would like to apply for the MultiSci programme. Who should they contact?

Prospective MultiSci students can find more information on the programme, including application details, on the website.

I have other questions. Who can I contact?

You can contact Elaina Maginn (MultiSci Training and Development Senior Teaching Fellow e.maginn@imperial.ac.uk), Nousheen Tariq (Postgraduate Education Manager n.tariq@imperial.ac.uk), or Indaka Weerasekera (MultiSci Administrator i.weerasekera@imperial.ac.uk).