We invite applications for a 3.5-year fully-funded non-clinical PhD Studentship at Imperial College London to study health inequalities in people with chronic respiratory diseases.

The project

The UK has some of the worst respiratory death rates in Europe, but up to two thirds are preventable through better treatment adherence and self-management. Patients are not always equipped with the tools they need to understand their condition, remain adherent to their treatments, and develop other healthy behaviours. Understanding how treatments, adherence to treatments and side effects of medication vary by ethnicity, sex, socioeconomic status, co-morbidity burden (including mental health), and environmental exposures is key to reducing premature death. Using various different sources of routinely collected electronic healthcare record data, these factors will be explored across chronic respiratory diseases.


The successful candidate will work in a highly interdisciplinary environment as part of a vibrant cohort of HDR UK-funded PhD students, with outstanding networking opportunities with fellow students and colleagues located across the 4 nations of the UK. HDR UK’s mission is to unite the UK’s health data to enable discoveries that improve people’s lives. Its 20-year vision is for large-scale data and advanced analytics to benefit every patient interaction, clinical trial, and biomedical discovery and to enhance public health.

HDRUK is now entering its second Five Year phase (2023-2028) and have a refreshed strategy which will focus on three goals:

  • Accelerate Trustworthy Data Use
    By implementing a national research data strategy and assembling infrastructure and services aligned to research and innovation needs.
  • Empower Researchers
    By valuing people with diverse perspectives & skills committed to open and team science to advance scientific discoveries and deliver patient and public benefit.
  • Promote Partnerships
    By building and maintaining critical partnerships, aligning incentives and reducing complexity across a fragmented landscape to streamline health data science.

This PhD is funded as part of the HDR UK Inflammation and Immunity Driver Programme, which seeks to transform the UK’s capabilities to improve understanding of mechanisms and health outcomes, using respiratory and allergic disorders as exemplar domains. We seek to enroll the most exceptional candidates and nurture them to become the next generation of leaders in health data science. The successful candidate will have opportunities to access, and contribute to, training activities organised by HDR UK, including via HDRUK Futures as well as within their own institution and as part of the Driver Programme team.

This Driver Programme will explore inflammation and immunity as general underpinning mechanisms, using highly prevalent respiratory and allergic diseases in the first instance. These illnesses can be exacerbated by acute inflammatory episodes due to infections (i.e., rhinovirus, coronaviruses, influenza, pneumonia, RSV) a well as pollution, tobacco, pollen, weather, drugs, foods and stinging insects. The long-term plan for the Driver Programme is to extend the data science capabilities and capacity created, to other inflammatory mediated diseases.

The successful candidate will work within the Respiratory Electronic Health Record Group at Imperial College London in collaboration with:

  • Professor Aziz Sheikh, University of Edinburgh
  • Professor Gwyn Davies, Swansea University
  • Professor Ian Sinha, Alder Hey Liverpool
  • Professor Liam Heaney, Queen’s University Belfast
  • Dr John Busby, Queen’s University Belfast

Academic qualifications

Candidates should hold, or achieve by the start of the programme, a Master's degree in addition to a Bachelor's degree with a UK First- or Upper Second-Class honours grade or equivalent in a relevant life science or quantitative science subject. Candidates must have strong statistical/computational skills. Candidates with qualifications in mathematics / computer science and a health-related discipline are particularly encouraged to apply, but it would be possible for those with mathematics, physics or other computational training to learn the healthcare context. We welcome applications from diverse backgrounds.

Essential attributes:

  • A strong quantitative background and desire to apply these techniques to healthcare
  • Good written and oral communication skills
  • Evidence of independent research skills relevant to the project
  • Strong motivation
  • Good time management
  • Demonstrable ability to work independently as part of a distributed team

Desirable attributes:

Demonstrable experience in one or more of the following:

  • Programming in MATLAB/Python/R etc
  • Previous research experience with healthcare datasets or electronic health records.

Application procedure

Funding for this position is for UK/EU applicants only. An international student would need to fund the additional costs themselves.

To apply, please fill in the Application Form (Respiratory Electronic Health Record Group) and email to j.quint@imperial.ac.uk before 5pm BST on the closing date of 31/05/23.  

Following interview, the selected candidate would need to apply to, and be accepted for, a place on Imperial College London’s PhD programme. Details about the PhD programme in the School of Public Health at Imperial in can be found here: Research Degrees