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About the Department of Clinical Neurosciences

About the Department

There are four components, spanning much of experimental and clinical neuroscience. This makes for a vibrant and multidisciplinary research training environment.  Many research students have projects that span two or more of the divisions of the Department. The four components are:

John van Geest Centre for Brain Repair (BRC).   The BRC focusses on understanding how diseases damaged the nervous system, and on developing methods to repairing this damage. Research spans basic biology through to clinical studies. Areas of research include the biology of neurons and glia, the process of myelination, the use of stem cells to repair the brain, axon regeneration, plasticity in the brain, mechanisms of neurodegeneration and inflammation. The techniques are multi-disciplinary, and include molecular and cell biology, electrophysiology, both tissue culture and in vivo work, behavioural studies, clinical studies. Research clinics in Parkinson's and Huntington's disease are also held in the BRC, emphasising its translational approach. Target diseases are Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's diseases, stroke, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma. 

Neurology. This in one of the major neurology centres in the UK.  It has particular interests in Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimers, stroke and multiple sclerosis (MS).  It combines experimental and clinical research.  Many of its clinicians thus spend time in both environments, and there is a seamless connection between them and the BRC.  Its many techniques include genetic studies, drugs trials, patient management techniques,  new approaches to therapy in MS and stroke, as well as many associated experimental projects on cell and molecular biology.

Neurosurgery. One of the most prominent academic departments of neurosurgery in the UK.  It has major interests in acute head injury (together with Department of Anaesthesiology), glioma biology and treatment,  developing new methods of bedside patient monitoring, the dynamics of the blood-brain barrier, brain haemorrhage and novel methods of imaging the damaged brain.  There are close interactions with both the BRC and the Department of Neurology.  As with that Department, the members of Neurosurgery have both clinical and experimental projects, and collaborate extensively with those in the other components of Clinical Neurosciences. 

Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre (WBIC). Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre (WBIC). This is housed in a £11.5 million building on the site of the renowned Addenbrooke’s Hospital, close to the BRC, Neurology and Neurosurgery.  It has major interests in developing new imaging methods, based both on new hardware and on computational techniques.  As well as a GE PET camera, the imaging facilities comprise two  3T Siemens MRI systems. The first was a TIM Trio system, installed in 2006. More recently the Centre has acquired a 3T Verio system. The Centre is also a major programme in developing and synthesising ligands for PET. Its members also collaborate extensively  with other components of the Department, and with those in Chemistry, Metabolic Medicine, Anaesthesiology, Psychology, Psychiatry etc. 

2 courses offered in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences

The Department invests much time and resources in its research training programme, which it regards as one of its central activities. It attracts applicants from a wide range of disciplines, reflecting its own comprehensive approach. We have students with backgrounds in medicine (including both qualified medics and those pursuing the MB/PhD programme), biological science, mathematics, physical and chemical science, and psychology.

The Department of Clinical Neurosciences consists of both senior scientists and clinically qualified active researchers with a wide range of expertise and experience focused on a common set of topics. This provides a superb environment for research training in both basic and clinical neurosciences. Currently, we have more than 100 registered postgraduate students and numerous postdoctoral fellows (about half come from outside the UK).

The Department attracts a large number of applicants, and we admit about 30 postgraduate students per year. The selection process is managed by the Graduate Training Committee, which consists of representatives from across the Department and is chaired by the Department’s Director of Training, Dr Adrian Carpenter.  All shortlisted applicants are invited for an interview either in person or by zoom/skype depending upon their geographical location.

Please ensure you check the Department of Clinical Neurosciences website for up-to-date information on projects and funding.

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The Department invests much time and resource in its research training programme, which it regards as one of its central activities. It attracts applicants from a wide range of disciplines, reflecting its own comprehensive approach. We have students with backgrounds in medicine (including both qualified medics and those pursuing the MB/PhD programme), biological science, mathematics, physical and chemical science  and psychology.

The Department of Clinical Neurosciences consists of both senior scientists and clinically qualified active researchers with a wide range of expertise and experience focused on a common set of topics. This provides a superb environment for research training in both basic and clinical neurosciences. Currently, we have more than 100 registered postgraduate students and numerous postdoctoral fellows (about half come from outside the UK).

The Department attracts a large number of applicants, and we admit about 30 postgraduate students per year. The selection process is managed by the Postgraduate Training Committee, which consists of representatives from across the department and is chaired by the Department’s director of training, Dr T Adrian Carpenter. All shortlisted applicants are invited for interview either in person or by Skype depending upon their geographical location.

Please ensure you check the Department of Clinical Neurosciences website for up-to-date information on projects and funding.

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6 courses also advertised in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences

From the Faculty of Clinical Medicine

We provide high-quality research training to clinical health professionals with an aptitude for research to enable them to become future leaders in medical and healthcare science. We can offer training in an outstanding environment, spanning basic science, translational medicine, interdisciplinary, behavioural and applied health research.

We take great pride in our track record of successfully training health professionals to undertake the highest quality research across Cambridge and Norwich. We offer one of the most rewarding environments in which you could pursue your research training with world-leading researchers in The  Schools of Clinical Medicine and Biological Sciences at the Universities of Cambridge, Wellcome Sanger Institute and other MRC, Wellcome & Cancer Research UK funded Institutes, Centres & Units in the wider Cambridge area, as well as the School of Health Sciences and Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia with other partners on the Norwich Research Park.  The most important criteria we are looking for are the pursuit of research excellence, hard work and the will to make a difference to health.

The programme faculty provides mentoring and guidance on opportunities to undertake pre-doctoral research placements, enabling successful candidates to make an informed choice of PhD project and supervisor. Bespoke training and support for career development for fellows, together with support to supervisors, ensures a successful research experience. Post-doctorally, we will guide fellows based on their individual progress, to make the transition into higher research fellowships and clinical pathways, enabling ongoing training with continuance of research momentum.

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From the Faculty of Clinical Medicine

The MD degree is a doctorate, specific to the University of Cambridge, awarded to clinicians who undertake an extended period of scientific research into the science, art, or history of medicine.  It provides an opportunity for doctors to receive recognition of research achievement within an approved academic programme.

The MD programme, on a par academically with the PhD, spans a maximum of six years, allowing candidates to undertake their research alongside clinical or other responsibilities, at the end of which their thesis is examined by Viva. Any candidate working in a Cambridge University Health Partner institution will be assigned a University supervisor and will  become  a registered student of the University and a member of one of the Colleges.  Any candidate intending to work at an institution outside Cambridge must already hold a Cambridge primary degree and must apply to take the MD by Special Regulations.

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From the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research

The Cambridge Institute for Medical Research (CIMR) is one of the leading research institutions in the UK. The Institute’s mission is to determine the molecular mechanisms of disease in order to advance human health, and the institute is founded on the principle of interdisciplinarity, leveraging extensive collaboration between basic and clinician scientists, outstanding core facilities and an inclusive, supportive working environment to tackle big problems.

CIMR’s ambitious Research Strategy is to generate a detailed understanding of cellular homeostasis across three main themes: protein folding and quality control, membrane trafficking and organelle biology. These pathways are fundamental to normal cellular function, so when they are altered by mutation they can lead to diseases that are rare, devastating, and frequently occur in the nervous system. Numerous infectious pathogens have also evolved to infect cells by exploiting and manipulating these pathways. CIMR therefore focuses on genetic and infectious disease areas where cellular homeostasis is altered, and which are frequently neglected and overlooked, meaning there is significant unmet patient need: rare genetic disease, neurological disease, and intracellular infection. There are 24 research groups working across these research themes at CIMR.

A three-year full-time PhD programme of research is offered under the individual supervision of principal investigators based in CIMR. This course can also be taken as a part-time option for over six years. The PhD students are based in a research group, supported by their primary supervisor, their postgraduate adviser, and the CIMR Postgraduate Education Committee. There is no taught and examined course work, but students can take part in core topic discussion sessions held once a week by PIs in CIMR.

Along with the specific research training provided in the laboratory in which the student works, he or she receives further training within the CIMR in the form of postgraduate workshops concentrating on research techniques, research seminars both on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus and elsewhere in the University, and postgraduate student seminars dealing with generic skills such as intellectual property rights, writing a thesis or paper, and entrepreneurship. Students write a thesis, which is examined via an oral examination.

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From the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research

The Cambridge Institute for Medical Research (CIMR) is one of the leading research institutions in the UK. The Institute’s mission is to determine the molecular mechanisms of disease in order to advance human health, and the institute is founded on the principle of interdisciplinarity, leveraging extensive collaboration between basic and clinician scientists, outstanding core facilities and an inclusive, supportive working environment to tackle big problems.

CIMR’s ambitious Research Strategy is to generate a detailed understanding of cellular homeostasis across three main themes: protein folding and quality control, membrane trafficking and organelle biology. These pathways are fundamental to normal cellular function, so when they are altered by mutation they can lead to diseases that are rare, devastating, and frequently occur in the nervous system. Numerous infectious pathogens have also evolved to infect cells by exploiting and manipulating these pathways. CIMR, therefore, focuses on genetic and infectious disease areas where cellular homeostasis is altered, and which are frequently neglected and overlooked, meaning there is significant unmet patient need: rare genetic disease, neurological disease, and intracellular infection. There are 24 research groups working across these research themes at CIMR.

A one-year full-time MPhil programme of research is offered under the individual supervision of principal investigators based in CIMR. This course can also be taken as a part-time option over two years. During their MPhil, the students are based in a research group, supported by their primary supervisor and the CIMR Postgraduate Education Committee. There is no taught and examined coursework, but students are encouraged to attend research seminars at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus and elsewhere in the University, and postgraduate student seminars dealing with generic skills such as intellectual property rights, writing a thesis or paper, and entrepreneurship. Students write a thesis, which is examined via an oral examination.

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From the Faculty of Clinical Medicine

The Cambridge Medical Research Council's Doctoral Training Programme will be offering five Industrial MRC CASE (iCASE) studentships for doctoral study, to start in October 2023, and these can be based in either the School of Clinical Medicine, or the School of Biological Sciences.

Each studentship is fully-funded for four years with a current stipend of £18,000 p.a., and includes all course fees, plus a research training support grant. 

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From the Department of Medicine

This innovative programme was established in 2002 as a collaboration between the University of Cambridge and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the US. Its aim is to train outstanding students in biomedical research, taking advantage of the excellent research environments in Cambridge and the US. Students work on collaborative projects organised by co-supervisors in Cambridge and the NIH, spending two years at each institution. Students have access to all NIH facilities and are paid by the NIH. The PhD is awarded by the University of Cambridge.

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Department Members


Professor Patrick Chinnery
Head of Department

  • 61 Academic Staff
  • 98 Postdoctoral Researchers
  • 125 Graduate Students

http://www-neurosciences.medschl.cam.ac.uk/

Research Areas