Five PhD studentships for world-class PhD applied health research projects at the School of Public Health

The School of Public Health at Imperial College London is recruiting talented, ambitious and highly motivated candidates for three-year fully funded PhD studentships as part of the new five-year Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) in NW London, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), Imperial College and our local health and care partners. We are offering up to five world-class applied health research PhD projects in a range of fields:  Innovation and Evaluation in Healthcare; Multimorbidity; Digital Health; Patient, Public, Community Engagement and Involvement; Child Health.

Our PhD training programme

We offer a 3-year PhD programme covering a wide range of research opportunities with access to state-of-the-art research facilities and excellent training opportunities. World-leading academics will work with you to support you in completing your PhD programme. As a PhD student, you will get intensive and dedicated supervision and access to an extensive training programme including training in transferable skills such as writing for publication and communication. Combined with access to mentoring, you will get the opportunity to develop your career, direct your training and take the required steps to reach your career goals.


You must have an undergraduate degree and an MSc or MPH in a relevant subject (such as life sciences, epidemiology, public health, economics, computing or statistics); or a medical degree. Please note, these studentships are only available to students eligible for home PhD fees.

How to Apply

Please submit a personal statement detailing your experience and how you are suitable for the studentship, together with your most recent CV and a list of any publications to Maria Batson before 5pm, 18 June 2020.


The studentships are based at Imperial College’s Charing Hospital Campus in West London.

For an informal discussion, please contact:
Innovation and Evaluation in Healthcare- Dr Matthew Harris 
Multimorbidity – Dr Benedict Hayhoe & Dr Dasha Nicholls
Digital Health - Dr Ceire Costelloe or Dr Felix Greaves
Patient Public Involvement and Engagement – Professor Helen Ward 
Child Health – Professor Sonia Saxena, Professor Mitch Blair or Dr Dougal Hargreaves


Further information on each PhD theme


The multimorbidity theme within the ARC in NW London seeks to improve the quality and coordination of care, experience and health outcomes for people with multimorbidity and frailty by supporting people living with more than one health condition, helping them to manage their self-care, and reducing barriers to providing holistic and personalised care to those with complex care needs.

A PhD student working with this theme will examine key questions about the experience, care and outcomes of people with multimorbidity. Benefitting from a range of expertise within the team supporting the use of both qualitative and quantitative research within primary and secondary care, the student will also have access to data from the Whole Systems Integrated Care Programme (WSIC), a large local dataset of health and social care, allowing identification and tracking of people with multimorbidity in NW London and their health outcomes.

It is evident that the current COVID-19 pandemic is likely disproportionately to affect people with multimorbidity. This effect is likely to be both direct, through a higher risk of morbidity and mortality, and indirect, through the impact of measures taken to reduce the spread of the virus and changes in health and social care resulting from a necessary refocusing of health systems. The PhD student will have the opportunity to explore this effect, seeking in particular to identify lessons from the experience of this crisis which can be applied to improvement of health and social care and outcomes for individuals with multimorbidity both locally and at a national level.

Child Population Health: Evaluating new models of integrated care to improve the health of children and young people

NHS services for children and young people face major challenges, include tackling rising rates of childhood obesity and mental health problems, managing greater complexity of care, and improving poor outcomes of many long-term conditions.

It is increasingly recognised that traditional NHS services were not designed to meet these challenges and are not well suited to meeting the quadruple aim of improved outcomes, better patient and staff experience, and greater efficiency in the future. The NHS Long Term Plan states that new models of care for children and young people are needed which can integrate services across traditional boundaries between primary, secondary, and tertiary care. However, there remains a very limited evidence base on the best ways to design and evaluate, such services – either at national or local level.

This PhD studentship will focus on analysis of the Whole Systems Integrated Care (WSIC) dataset, which covers a population of approximately 2.3 million people across North West London and is the largest integrated care dataset in Europe. Our team currently have access to primary and secondary care data, and permissions are in place to link more widely to data from community health, social care and education settings.

First steps will be to describe sociodemographic and geographic variation in healthcare use and health outcomes in children and young people. These analyses will include specific conditions such as epilepsy, diabetes and asthma, as well as population segmentation approaches. Next steps will be to examine the relationships between different measures of care quality and health outcomes, including evaluating the impact of integrated care interventions on health and wider outcomes.
Depending on the candidate’s experience and interest, there will also be opportunities to work with national datasets (including Clinical Practice Research Database and Hospital Episode Statistics (CPRD-HES), develop an interest in mixed methods research combining qualitative and quantitative approaches, and lead Patient & Public Involvement (PPI) activities.

Find out more about the work of the Child Health Unit.

Innovation and Evaluation

The Innovation and Evaluation theme aims to improve translation of innovation into practice through the design, uptake, evaluation and spread of improvement practices across Northwest London. We are looking for a student to undertake a PhD within the theme which will be focused on the introduction, implementation and impact of reverse or frugal innovations in the UK.[1] The PhD project will be designed in collaboration with the successful applicant and will likely focus on one of the following areas:

  1. Implementation of a frugal surgical innovation (Arbutus Drill Cover System) within the NHS: Surgical drills are expensive costing approximately £20-30K per drill however drills developed in Uganda and Malawi using single use covers over regular hardware drills can provide significant cost savings without sacrificing clinical safety or effectiveness. This project will explore the feasibility and acceptability of this frugal innovation in the NHS in order to provide the evidence base for future scaling and adoption throughout the system. Subject to gaining the relevant ethical approvals, the PhD will examine the clinical effectiveness of the drill based on patient outcomes; acceptability based on qualitative interviews with participants and clinical staff; a time and motion study to determine impact on work practices and operating time; and an activity based costing analysis to explore savings in the system. The broad methodological approach will provide the student with a variety of skills and potentially lead to impact on clinical practice in the local healthcare economy and beyond.
  2. Implementation of a Community Health Worker (CHWs) Programme in Northwest London: Place-based community health worker models, such as the Family Health Strategy in Brazil, are horizontally integrated interventions that provide health and social care support to all households in small, but well-defined, geographical territories. In the UK context, this would be a paradigm shift away from typically vertical initiatives based on risk stratification or population segmentation. Recent modelling has suggested this approach would lead to significant potential efficiencies, in terms of cost and in terms of access to care, however the feasibility and acceptability of this approach in the UK is unknown. This project would involve a process mapping study to detail the potential efficiencies and savings in terms of workload, access to care and the patient pathway; an exploratory qualitative study to assess acceptability of the model to patients and professionals; and a microsimulation study of the impact on primary care and secondary care utilisation drawing on local health and social care data. The broad methodological approach will provide the student with a variety of skills and potentially lead to impact on clinical practice in the local healthcare economy and beyond.

The PhD project will likely draw on mixed methods with the potential to conduct economic analysis in conjunction with qualitative methods

Digital health

Healthcare delivery in the future will be vastly different from today. People will be living longer, with multiple comorbidities. Digital innovations such as SMART homes and cities will transform the way we diagnose, treat and manage disease. Increasing amounts of data about patients, their diseases and how these are managed have the potential to provide personalised models of care.

The Digital Health theme of the NW London ARC is seeking a motivated student to join our team, working within the Global Digital health unit at Imperial College London. The successful applicant will have a background in quantitative research methods (eg: MSc in Statistics/Data Science/Epidemiology).

We particularly welcome applications form individuals interested in: predictive risk modelling; decision support systems for healthcare professionals, and online access in Primary Care both in terms of patients’ access to medical records or online services, and use by healthcare professionals.

Patient, Public, Community Engagement and Involvement

The PhD for the Patient, Public, Community Engagement and Involvement theme will focus on one of the following areas:

  1. Inclusive engagement and involvement
  2. Digital platforms as a mechanism for engagement
  3. Advance understanding of relational work for improvement and evidence translation focused on engagement and involvement practice