Postgraduate Research


Postgraduate Research

PhD Scholarship Opportunities

Posted: 26th January 2018

School: Graduate Entry Medical School, University of Limerick

Faculty: Education and Health Sciences

Contract Type: Fixed Term Whole-Time

Type: Research

The University of Limerick (UL) with over 13,000 students and 1,300 staff is an energetic and enterprising institution with a proud record of innovation and excellence in education, research and scholarship. The dynamic, entrepreneurial and pioneering values which drive UL’s mission and strategy ensures that we capitalise on local, national and international engagement and connectivity.  We are renowned for providing an outstanding student experience and conducting leading edge research.  Our commitment is to make a difference by shaping the future through educating and empowering our students. UL is situated on a superb riverside campus of over 130 hectares with the River Shannon as a unifying focal point. Outstanding recreational, cultural and sporting facilities further enhance this exceptional learning and research environment.

GEMS  was established in September 2007 after The University of Limerick’s bid for a Graduate Entry Medical School (GEMS) was successful and the first intake of students were admitted in Autumn of that year.   The Medical School’s Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (BMBS) programme at UL delivers a highly innovative, student-centered and integrated curriculum with a strong emphasis on small-group teaching and on self-directed learning.  It has now grown to an annual intake of 150 students, and has resulted in four cohorts of medical graduates.  A unique PBL-centered approach to adult learning has proved highly effective.  The School benefits from a purpose built €18m building on the beautiful North Campus, containing state of the art education and simulation facilities and leading-edge research facilities mainly to support Year 1 & 2 students.  A similar €14.5m building supporting Year 3 & 4 students and staff at University Hospital Limerick opened in Feb 2017. 

PhD Scholarship Opportunities

The Graduate Entry Medical School, University of Limerick invites motivated and talented graduates with outstanding academic records to apply to our PhD Scholarship scheme. We are looking to recruit the highest calibre PhD students. Our scholarships offer up to four years funding, covering doctoral programme tuition fees and an annual stipend of €16,000 per year (subject to satisfactory progress in studies). Successful candidates will register on the UL Faculty of Education & health Sciences structured PhD.

The Graduate Entry Medical School has a stimulating & supportive research ethos, and will provide opportunities to join existing research teams led by experienced faculty members.

One PhD scholarship is offered in each the following areas:

Correlating Microbial Diversity and Pathogen characteristics in Paediatric & adult cystic fibrosis. 

Globally, Ireland has the highest prevalence of cystic fibrosis. Variations in microbial diversity in patient airways appear at least partially responsible for deterioration of pulmonary function. Culture-independent techniques enable study of the lung microbiome, and have determined that the lower respiratory tract (previously considered sterile) is microbiologically distinct from upper airways. This project will employ advanced sequencing techniques to explore variation in the lower lung lung microbiome associated with cystic fibrosis and investigate how the lower lung microbiome of paediatric patients is influenced by antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory treatments. Applicants should have a minimum of first or upper second class honours degree in Biomedical Science, Microbiology, Biochemistry, or a closely related subject. Start date: February or September 2018. (Primary Supervisor: Prof Colum Dunne).

Evaluating Inter-Organisational Collaboration for Public and Patient Involvement in Health Research.

Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) in health research helps assure that evidence is relevant and impactful for the people and settings that need it most. Effective PPI relies on cohesive collaboration between stakeholders from a number of domains; not only researchers and patients, but carers, advocacy organisations, service providers, managers and policy workers. This PhD study will use social network analysis to understand and influence inter-stakeholder collaborative action within the HRB-PPI Ignite UL partnership ( Candidates should have a background in mixed methods as well as an interest in participatory and patient-centred health research.  Start date: September 2018. (Primary Supervisor: Dr Jon Salsberg).

Clinical and economic evaluation of PCSK9 inhibitor therapy.

Despite growing evidence supporting PCSK9 therapeutic strategies for patients who cannot achieve guideline-established levels of LDL-C reduction even with high-intensity statin therapy, or for patients with a reduced capacity to tolerate appropriate doses of other lipid- lowering medications, there remain several outstanding questions on the clinical, comparative and cost effectiveness of PCSK9 inhibitors. This project will focus on longer run treatment effects for specific high risk patients, assessment of biomarkers and candidate mechanisms that could improve treatment targeting and more robust modelling of the comparative and cost effectiveness of these therapies. The methods will encompass both experimental and observational study designs, the use of evidence synthesis techniques, analysis of clinical variables and biomarkers and the application of modern approaches to the economic modelling of cost-effectiveness and programme evaluation. Start date: February or September 2018. (Primary Supervisor: Prof John Forbes).

Wound healing in breast cancer patients.

Examination of the incidence of infection, and problems associated with wound healing in breast cancer patients who have undergone surgery. This work will provide exciting and important insights into the problems associated with infections post breast cancer surgery and may provide novel opportunities to influence treatment. Applicants should have a first or upper second class honors degree in Biomedical Science, Biochemistry, Cell Biology, or a closely related subject with an interest or experience in cell signaling and cancer biology.  An MSc in Cancer Biology, Biochemistry, Biomedical Science or a related discipline (although not essential), would be a distinct advantage. The successful candidate will be highly motivated and hard-working, with the ability to work both independently and as part of a team.  (Primary Supervisor: Dr Pat Kiely).

Investigating metabolic aspects of Crohn’s disease and intestinal physiology.

There are preliminary data supporting a novel model for the initiation and relapsing-remitting nature of Crohn’s disease, which is a debilitating condition that has no definitive aetiology. This project will focus on evaluation of metabolic changes leading to variation in intestinal physiology and correlating these changes with patient experiences of disease and clinical outcomes. The PhD candidate will build on a foundation of previously-collected data and will be supported by an existing, well-published research team. Applicants should have a minimum of first or upper second class honours degree in Biomedical Science, Microbiology, Biochemistry, or a closely related subject. Start date: February or September 2018. (Primary Supervisor: Prof Colum Dunne).

Investigation of the developmental anatomy and innervation of the mesenteric, peritoneal and fascial components of the large intestine – implication for surgical anatomy, congenital defects and chronic inflammatory disease of the gut.

The developmental mechanisms that underpin the formation of the mesentery, its innervation and relationship to the enteric nervous system are very poorly understood. Current research indicates that the mesentery is a continuous rather that a fragmented structure and this reappraisal of the adult anatomy of the mesentery now prompts a reappraisal of its developmental anatomy. Moreover, the development of peritoneal reflections and associated fascia and how they and the intestinal wall become innervated remains largely ignored. This PhD project aims to address these knowledge deficits through a comprehensive investigative strategy, deploying state-of-the-art cellular, molecular and imaging techniques to unravel a) the processes governing mesenteric development, and  b) the mechanism by which the mesentery and associated structures is innervated. Start date: February or September 2018. (Primary Supervisor: Prof Kieran McDermott).

To be eligible, candidates must have obtained a standard of at least Second Class Honours, Grade I, in an approved primary degree.

For informal enquiries regarding these posts, candidates should contact:

Name: Prof. Colum Dunne

Address:  Director of Research, Graduate Entry Medical School, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland


Telephone: +353 (0) 61 234703