The Bloomsbury Colleges | PhD Studentships | Studentships 2014 | The Genetic Basis Of Psychotic Experiences In Adolescence
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The Genetic Basis Of Psychotic Experiences In Adolescence

Principal Supervisor: Dr Angelica Ronald (Birkbeck, University of London)

Co- Supervisor: Professor Frank Dudbridge (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)

This is a highly innovative, multidisciplinary and international project, aiming to identify genes that cause psychotic experiences in adolescence.  This knowledge will be vital for improving the understanding and treatment of such problems in adolescence, and will contribute to the understanding of the biology of long-term conditions such as schizophrenia, in which psychotic experiences play a role.  There will be opportunities within the project to characterise gene location, type and biological function, and to study gene-environment interactions.  The project will provide an ambitious and talented student the opportunity to make considerable ground-breaking findings in the area of psychiatric genetics.

This studentship offers a chance to conduct novel research in the fast moving field of human genetics and to be trained in cutting edge methodology and analytic skills within a leading research environment.  The post has additional opportunities for developing statistical methods and for further psychological investigations into psychotic experiences and psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. 

The student will be based at the Genes Environment Lifespan (GEL) laboratory (www.gel.bbk.ac.uk), headed by Dr Angelica Ronald, which conducts award-winning research into the causes of developmental mental health conditions.  The GEL lab is based in the Department of Psychological Sciences, currently rated as the equal 5th leading Psychology department in the UK (http://www.bbk.ac.uk/psychology/).  The student will also be part of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, in which the second supervisor Prof Dudbridge leads an internationally recognised group of statistical geneticists within the world leading Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health.

Candidate requirements

Candidates must have a first class or upper second undergraduate degree in a relevant scientific discipline, including but not limited to psychology, genetics, biology, mathematics or physics.

Candidates must in addition have at least one of the following:

  1. a Masters degree in a relevant scientific discipline
  2. experience working in a research assistant post
  3. other experience of working in a professional environment, ideally in a relevant discipline such as in a pharmaceutical company or a mental health-related role

There will be excellent opportunities for research and training. The successful applicant will be a member of the Bloomsbury Centre for Genetic Epidemiology and Statistics (BCGES; http://bcges.lshtm.ac.uk ), which includes research groups across Birkbeck, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and University College London.  The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has world leading expertise in general epidemiology and medical statistics.  From Birkbeck the student will be trained within the Genes Environment Lifespan laboratory, and exposed to behaviour genetics and developmental neuroscience, both important fields to integrate with genetic training. As such, the student will gain highly sought after interdisciplinary training in both statistical genetic methodology and developmental psychopathology.  The student will be encouraged to attend training courses and conferences both within the UK and overseas.

Key References

  1. Ronald A, Sieradzka D, Cardno A. G., Haworth C. M. A, McGuire P, Freeman D. (In press). Characterization of psychotic experiences in adolescence using the Specific Psychotic Experiences Questionnaire (SPEQ): Findings from a study of 5000 16-year-old twins. Schizophrenia Bulletin.
  2. Ronald, A. (2011). Is the Child 'father of the man'? Evaluating the stability of genetic influences across development. Developmental Science, 14, 1471-8.
  3. Dudbridge F (2013) Power and predictive accuracy of polygenic risk scores. PLoS Genet 9:e1003348

Further details about the project may be obtained from:

Principal Supervisor: Dr Angelica Ronald, a.ronald@bbk.ac.uk, http://www.bbk.ac.uk/psychology/our-staff/academic/angelica-ronald, www.gel.bbk.ac.uk

Co- Supervisor: Professor Frank Dudbridge, frank.dudbridge@lshtm.ac.uk, http://www.lshtm.ac.uk/aboutus/people/dudbridge.frank, https://sites.google.com/site/fdudbridge/

Further information about PhDs at Birkbeck  is available from:

http://www.bbk.ac.uk/prospective/research/

Application forms and details about how to apply are available from:

The online application form is found here:

http://www.bbk.ac.uk/study/2014/phd/programmes/RMPPSYCH/

Please state in your form that you are applying for a Bloomsbury studentship.

Questions regarding the application process can be directed to the Departmental Administrator: Francesca Carter, email: f.carter@bbk.ac.uk, Telephone 0207 631 6083

Application Requirements include a CV, cover letter, 2 academic references, an example piece of academic writing and the standard application form

Closing date for applications is 20th January 2014.

Please note that interviews will be held in the week commencing 27th January 2014.