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BHF 4-year programme structure

Programme Structure 

The Cambridge BHF 4-Year PhD programme is a 1+3 year programme.  The  first year is  designed to  give integrated training in  the  conceptual foundations, experimental systems, practical techniques, and current state of knowledge in  cardiovascular research. Students start with a welcome session explaining how the Programme is organised, expectations, and the mechanisms of support available. This is followed by a 2-week University and Programme induction on safety, diversity, researcher development, keeping research notebooks, information governance, and intellectual property, which runs  in  parallel  to  the  Graduate  School  Safety Course and Researcher Development Programme. Our PhD Programme Administrator ensures each student is familiar with the timetable and various locations, and is always available to offer guidance and support with any non-academic issues.

Year 1: After induction and every 3mth, the students will be provided with a portfolio of 10-week laboratory attachments for discussion with individual supervisors and  their mentor. Students will select and rotate through 3  mini-projects, spanning different biomedical problems, experimental techniques and laboratory environments. Students will attend a programme-specific course alternating discussion sessions on core research themes delivered by supervisors and senior postdoctoral fellows, and seminars on advanced biomedical techniques delivered by expert local practitioners. Some of these sessions will be shared with other 4-year PhD, doctoral training and institutional programmes which currently enroll 30  students/year (listed through Cambridge Cardiovascular Seminar Series). Students will also have access to modules from established courses within the  University and  Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute (WTSI), and provided with recent reviews and key papers. Students will be enrolled in courses on Introductory Biostatistics (biostatistics, evidence synthesis, approaches to dense datasets), Bioinformatics and Research Integrity.

Years 2-4: Years 2-4 emphasize research but with ~80 hours of optional generic and transferable skills via workshops (e.g. computer programming, genomics,  genetics, bioinformatics, metabolomics, imaging) and seminars in cardiovascular disease biology, stem/regenerative medicine, and journal clubs. Students will be jointly supervised by at least two PIs with complementary expertise, ensuring that cross-disciplinary training is a central element of the programme. All BHF students will give oral or poster presentations at the annual BHF PhD student symposium, to assess performance of  both the student and the whole programme, and to facilitate collaborations. In addition, students help plan and run our public engagement activities (Cambridge Science Festival, Big Biology Day, School visits), and the Early Careers Researcher Symposium.

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