Systems Approaches to Biomedical Sciences Centre for Doctoral Training

The EPSRC and MRC Systems Approaches to Biomedical Science CDT is an innovative 4-year D.Phil. programme in which every student works in collaboration with industry, conducting cutting edge research in:

  • Computational and structural approaches underpinning drug and therapy discovery: Computational and structural approaches are an indispensable component of the modern drug discovery pipeline, shedding light on important factors such as mechanism of action, axis of therapeutic intervention, target selectivity and drug resistance. These approaches have been credited with the success of a number of new chemical entities and, more recently, have been increasingly utilised in the development of new biological entities, including monoclonal antibodies. Such approaches are uniquely positioned to synergise chemical and biological drug development processes.
  • Data-driven drug discovery: High-throughput technologies will continue to have a marked impact on the pharmaceutical industry. The ability to perform routine genotyping or sequencing of host (human) genetics and their pathogens or tumours will provide unique opportunities for patient stratification and improved personalisation of drug treatment. Moreover, many drugs fail late in development due to adverse reaction in a small population of patients. Coupled to high-throughput genetics, health institutes are increasingly moving toward the recording and storage of population electronic health records providing detailed longitudinal phenotyping of response to treatment and confounding environmental factors. The linking of population electronic patient records with high-throughput genetic and genomic biomarkers has the potential to transform drug stratification and is moving aspects of pharmaceutical research into the area of data-driven science.
  • Physiological modelling underpinning drug discovery: A key challenge in the development of novel drugs and therapies is obtaining a detailed understanding of how treatment interventions interact and affect the complex physiological processes that constitute living organisms. Addressing this central issue will require the development of biophysically consistent mathematical models which can be integrated with multiple types of functional data into a consistent [quantitative and predictive] theoretical framework. The resulting models typically describe multiple physical processes, often occurring across a range of spatial and temporal scales, and yielding solutions only via computational approaches. The CDT will have access to extensive and world-leading capability in mathematical and computational modelling techniques for physiological systems modelling.


We are an open collaboration between Oxford and 15 partner organisations (AstraZeneca, Diamond Light Source, e-Therapeutics, Evotec, GE Healthcare, GlaxoSmithKline, Hoffmann La Roche, InhibOx, Lilly UK, Microsoft, Moffitt Cancer Center, Novartis, Pfizer, Structural Genomics Consortium and UCB).

We encourage applications from students with a wide range of academic backgrounds, including Mathematics, Computing, Statistics, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Physics, Biology, Pharmacology and Engineering. Fully funded studentships for home and EU students are now available. Click here for more information.

Please explore the links on the right to find more information about the programme and the research training provided, as well as funding available and instructions on how to apply.

The Doctoral Training Centre is a member of the Graduate Academic Programme (GAP) and fully supports the teaching and training of graduate students across the University of Oxford.


Next programme application deadline is on the 21st November 2014.

Note: In Oxford, the degree qualification commonly referred to as a Doctorate of Philospohy or Ph.D. is known as a D.Phil.