Wellcome Trust 4-year PhD Programme - The Molecular Basis of Biological Mechanisms


Please download the list of supervisors. 

Project description


The results from the various genome projects are providing a wealth of information on nucleic acid and protein sequences. Identification and manipulation of the roles of these molecules in the living cell is the next important challenge. A detailed understanding of their three dimensional structures, folding, interactions with other biomolecules, assembly into multi-subunit complexes and their structure/function relationships is an essential step towards this goal. This is the focus of our 4 Year PhD Programme.

The programme is focused on important biological questions, and will train students in the wide range of techniques in cell biology, biological chemistry and biophysics that are needed to push back the frontiers in these topical areas. Students accepted onto the programme will have unique opportunities to develop practical skills and a deep understanding of modern techniques, their principles and applications through taught courses in the first year. Students will then undertake a full research project in years 2-4, selecting from the wide range of topics offered by the programme's supervisors, and are able to tailor-make their project of choice.

Outline of the Programme

The first year consists of taught courses and research laboratory placements. The former are arranged in a series of modules comprising seminars and practical workshops. These are taught throughout the first year and provide essential theoretical background and hands-on training in key experimental areas of the programme. The course begins with a foundation module that introduces concepts and techniques in protein biochemistry, cell biology and biophysics. This is then followed by a further six modules which focus on research areas of strength at Leeds, namely:

  1. Structure and Function of Nucleic Acids and Proteins
  2. Proteins: Function, selection and modification
  3. Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Design
  4. Folding and Assembly
  5. Membranes
  6. Structural Molecular Biology in the Cell

In addition, a series of modules are available which deal with transferable skills including research methodology, PhD project management, effective poster presentation, and many others. These are run either within the Faculty or by the University.

In parallel with the above modules, students will undertake three short laboratory research projects in year 1 in order to gain experience with a wide range of practical techniques. On the basis of the experience so gained, students will decide upon and plan their PhD project with input from an academic advisor. This project will most likely be interdisciplinary in nature and could involve more than one supervisor. The PhD research project is undertaken full-time in years 2-4.

Key benefits

This programme was established in 2000 and is hosted by the Astbury Centre which brings together researchers from across the University to allow interdisciplinary approaches to be harnessed to understand the molecular basis of life. This is a unique opportunity for you to be a part of a strong cohort of Wellcome Trust students. You will be able to rotate through different labs to experience our state-of-the-art facilities.

Entry requirements

Our principal aim is to attract students of the highest intellectual quality who are excited by the molecular and structural biology revolution and by the prospect of a demanding multidisciplinary programme. In return we can offer a stimulating and challenging environment. Students with at least a 2.1 degree in any area of the life sciences and physical sciences, including Biochemistry, Physics, Chemistry and related disciplines are invited to apply.

Additional staff contact

Enquiries are welcome.

Please contact the:
Programme Administrator, Hazel Jones for any informal enquiries
Telephone no. +44 (0)113 343 8231
Email: fbswellcometrust@leeds.ac.uk


The Programme Director, Prof Alan Berry for scientific enquiries
Telephone no. +44 (0)113 343 3158
Email: a.berry@leeds.ac.uk

How to apply

Submission of an application for a place for postgraduate study in the Astbury Centre is a two stage process:

  1. Complete the application form on the Astbury Centre website to register your interest in applying for a place in the Centre: 
  2. Make a formal application for a University place by using the University on-line application system.

How to apply (email)


How to apply (phone)

+44 (0)113 343 8231