At the heart our programme offering are the MRC Strategic Skills Priorities. All MRC DTP students will have core training in quantitative skills, with a compulsory statistical & analytical component; skills with be strengthened by more specific quantitative approaches through our strategic themes. Many students will train at a disciplinary interface (primarily basic-clinical/translation, physical, chemical, engineering or social). Whole organ(ism) physiology forms an important component of each theme, with both animal models and human research.
High-quality student experience
The primary objective is to provide exceptional training and support so that students learn and develop into highly skilled and independent researchers prepared for their next career stage, whether in research or outside.
Choice of projects which are collaborative, challenging, and realistically achievable, exposing students to fundamental and translational sciences.
High-quality training environment
This provides the capacity and capability to perform high quality research enhanced by the complementary interests and experience of the research groups and the wider health faculties research community at King’s.
Flexibility of pathways
For students joining the DTP programme we offer the choice of two pathways:
– 0+4 year PhD only pathway
– 1+3 MRes/PhD pathway with 3 laboratory rotations of 12 weeks each in the MRes year
This recognises that outstanding students will come from a range of backgrounds and have a range of interests and training needs.
MRC DTP Programme Structure
Programme Core (Year 1)
All students will undertake a common ‘Core Research Skills’ training programme. This will focus on quantitative (including statistical) skills, identified both internally and externally as a key gap in current provisions, but will also cover research ethics and integrity, critical interpretation of literature and related topics. Taught elements early in the course will be reinforced by more applied workshops through the year. The following are a few examples of skills workshops available, and the options are reviewed annually with staff and student input: Genetics/Genomics, Quantitative/Statistical Genetics, Biology & Ethics of Stems Cells, Optical Imaging, Mass Spectometry, Computational Biology, Flow Cytometry, Experimental Neuroscience, Animal Models & Behaviour, Electrophysiology, Medical Imaging Sciences.
PhD pathway students immediately begin research on their selected PhD project. Additionally they complete 3 compulsory workshops (Experimental Design, Critical Thinking, Research Ethics & Integrity) and 2 selected skills workshops in their first year.
The MRes in Biomedical and Translational Science programme is a 1-year full-time course, for those students that select the 1+3 pathway. The aims of this programme are to provide students with core skills to enable them to undertake high quality research and to critically appraise scientific literature.
All MRes students select 3 rotation research projects of 12 weeks each. One of these projects then provides for the basis of the PhD project. Students on the MRes/PhD pathway complete the 3 compulsory workshops (Experimental Design, Critical Thinking, Research Ethics & Integrity) and select 5 skills workshops in the first year.
The MRes consists of 5 Modules (Research Projects, Experimental Skills, and PhD Project Proposal). The Research Projects Modules are made up of 3 rotation laboratory projects which students select as they progress through the MRes. The Experimental Skills Module consists of short workshops of theoretical and practical training, and the PhD Project Proposal Module starts in July and is the student’s proposed PhD project.
The MRes is the foundation year within the 4-year PhD programme, it is not intended for the MRes to be undertaken as a stand-alone qualification. To progress onto the PhD phase of the programme a student must pass the MRes.
We also engage all students in skills to enhance career prospects and employability including entrepreneurship, business management, research ethics & integrity, and public engagement.
Population of researchers: King’s has a population of almost 750 active biomedical academics, from which potential supervisors will be drawn via an annual project call. Previous and current project catalogues can be found here.
Specific benefits of the training environment: Our students access world-class infrastructure, major research centres, and established industrial partnerships, such as optical imaging (Nikon Imaging Centre), clinical imaging (Philips, Siemens and GE) and therapeutic development (e.g. Pfizer Rare Diseases Collaboration). Between King’s and our Biomedical Research Centres, we provide world-class research facilities in imaging, genomics and bioinformatics, mass spectrometry, molecular spectroscopy, flow cytometry (inc. CyTOF) and single cell genomics, as well as four clinical research facilities (CRFs) and ready access to patient populations and specimens. Our Stem Cells Hotel provides laboratory space for collaborative studies. Innovative approaches are provided for science communication through Science Gallery London, and for entrepreneurship through the King’s Commercialisation Institute.
Cohort Building & Networking
Training and socialising within a cohort of student peers undoubtedly enhances the student experience, and helps develop broad-minded and interactive graduates. We believe student cohorts are a powerful driver of novel collaborations between research groups. The MRC DTP offer a great number of networking opportunities from the point of recruitment and throughout a student’s PhD study including: research symposiums, regular socials, academic presentations and many more. We are committed to collaborative practise and student peers on relevant funded programmes partake in many elements of the programme.
“Ownership culture” is a core value of our DTP and we actively encourage our students to organise many elements of the programme. Specifically, an annual DTP symposium; quarterly Early Career Researcher Networking forum/social; informal research brainstorming/planning sessions; journal clubs; specialised speaker workshops and public engagement activity. Student feedback is valued and informs the evaluation and development of activities.
Training & Professional Development
All DTP students benefit from a mentor in year 1. Monitoring, mentoring and career development is led by their thesis committee, with the theme lead, to create a personalised development plan. Progress, training needs, skills and achievement are recorded every 6 months. Wide-ranging transferable skills training (10 days per year) is provided by the King’s Researcher Development Unit’s programme, mapped against the Vitae Researcher Development Framework. This Programme runs ~300 workshops/year, inc.: thesis writing, time management, presentation skills and problem-solving, and provides access to workshops at other London HEIs.
The Brilliant Club trains students to engage high-performing pupils in schools with a low-participation rate in higher education. King’s will promote industry related career development events run by the Academy of Medical Sciences with industry partners. The balance we offer between research, transferable skills and industrially-oriented training provides the opportunity to consider wider careers, including science policy, publishing, patenting, and management in industry, which will enhance your career prospects and employability.
Public Engagement & Science Communication
This is an important skill set to acquire early in a scientific career. All DTP students receive both formal training as well as opportunities to engage in practical activities with the public (e.g. Pint of Science), patients groups and schools, supported by staff from Science Gallery London as well as departments across King’s. The MRC DTP have a Public Engagement Student Committee leading on innovative ways to engage the community with their research. You can read more about our students public engagement work here.
Entrepreneurship & Commercialisation
King’s has an active student entrepreneurship programme covering a wide range of activities: King’s Entrepreneurship Institute run competitions such as “Idea Factory” challenge, workshops and events and King’s20 Accelerator. The King’s Commercialisation Institute run workshops to understand intellectual property and licensing, formation of a spinout company, business plans, financial modelling, negotiation with commercial parties and case studies in business development. Interested DTP students may undertake short placements within the Commercialisation Institute, developing business plans (both spin out and licensing approaches) for commercial projects; placements such as these can be made possible by the MRC Flexible Supplement Fund.
Informed Career Choices
In addition to academic mentors, the MRC DTP works closely with the Centre for Doctoral Studies which has a dedicated Careers Consultant. Careers Spotlight events show the range of potential careers for our graduates, on-line tutorials, webinars and workshops, explore pro-active approaches to career development including writing an effective CV, developing interview skills, and gaining industrial exposure.