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Three Year PhD Studentship in the Modelling of Respiratory Viruses

This is an exciting PhD studentship opportunity to be held jointly at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Protection Research Units (HPRU) in Modelling and Health Economics and Respiratory Infections. The project will involve close collaboration with staff at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

The successful candidate will undertake research to analyse and model epidemiological, clinical and/or experimental data on SARS-CoV-2 collected by researchers at the HPRU for Respiratory Infections. The precise project will be determined in discussion with the successful candidate depending on their interests and aptitudes. Example recent collaborative publications involving the two HPRUs include:

Community transmission and viral load kinetics of the SARS-CoV-2 delta (B.1.617.2) variant in vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in the UK: a prospective, longitudinal, cohort study, Lancet ID, 2021 -

Safety, tolerability and viral kinetics during SARS-CoV-2 human challenge, Nature Medicine, 2022 (in press) –

Broadening symptom criteria improves early case identification in SARS-CoV-2 contacts

Comparative analysis of the risks of hospitalisation and death associated with SARS-CoV-2 omicron (B.1.1.529) and delta (B.1.617.2) variants in England: a cohort study, Lancet, 2022 (in press) -

Covid-19 Vaccine Effectiveness against the Omicron (B.1.1.529) Variant, NEJM, 2022 -

The HPRU in Modelling and Health Economics, headed by Professor Neil Ferguson, combines the complementary strengths of the three largest and most diverse teams of infectious disease modellers in the UK, at UKHSA, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Imperial College. Its aim is to deliver a step change in research capacity available for health protection modelling. The HPRU in Respiratory Infections, headed by Professor Ajit Lalvani, is based in the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London and has a mission to support UKHSA by creating a centre of excellence to design, conduct and share internationally leading multidisciplinary health protection research on influenza, tuberculosis and other respiratory infections. Both HPRUs have made large contributions to the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic and have extensive ongoing research programmes on SARS-CoV-2.

The PhD student will be based in the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at Imperial College London, which is host to several world-leading groups in infectious disease epidemiology and has a strong track record of applied collaborative work with national and international agencies in support of policy planning and response operations against emerging infectious disease threats. The department hosts the Medical Research Council (MRC) Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, which since its foundation in 2007 has been an international resource and centre of excellence for research of the epidemiological analysis and modelling of novel infectious disease outbreaks. Imperial College London offers a range of training courses to PhD student that the successful candidate would have access to.


Applicants should have, a first or upper second-class degree and have, or expect to achieve, a Masters degree in relevant subject which includes all of those from the quantitative and life sciences – including biology, genetics, mathematics, physics, statistics, biostatistics, data science, statistical genetics/genomics, bioinformatics.

Given the nature of the project, advanced programming skills are essential. Experience programming in R, writing R packages, and experience using version control system (such as git) are all highly desirable. Knowledge or interest of infectious disease epidemiology and/or genetic data analysis of pathogens is desirable as well.


One studentship providing a tax-free stipend to cover living expenses. The 2022 stipends will be not less than £18,062 in year 1, rising to £18,384 in year 2.

Tuition fees at the rate applicable to UK Home students are provided. Suitably qualified students non-eligible for home tuition fees are welcome to apply but will be liable for paying the difference between the home and overseas fee rates. Eligibility criteria for home tuition are outlined on the tuition fees webpage:


Closing date for applications: 30 April 2022

Interviews will be held in May 2022

Further Information

Informal enquiries can be directed to Professor Neil Ferguson:

PhD position
Imperial College London
United Kingdom
Closing date
April 30th, 2022
Posted on
March 30th, 2022 16:41
Last updated
March 30th, 2022 16:41