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About the Department of Clinical Neurosciences

About the Department

There are four components, spanning much of experimental and clinical neuroscience. This makes for a vibrant and multidisciplinary research training environment.  Many research students have projects that span two or more of the divisions of the Department. The four components are:

John van Geest Centre for Brain Repair (BRC).   The BRC focusses on understanding how diseases damaged the nervous system, and on developing methods to repairing this damage. Research spans basic biology through to clinical studies. Areas of research include the biology of neurons and glia, the process of myelination, the use of stem cells to repair the brain, axon regeneration, plasticity in the brain, mechanisms of neurodegeneration and inflammation. The techniques are multi-disciplinary, and include molecular and cell biology, electrophysiology, both tissue culture and in vivo work, behavioural studies, clinical studies. Research clinics in Parkinson's and Huntington's disease are also held in the BRC, emphasising its translational approach. Target diseases are Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's diseases, stroke, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma. 

Neurology. This in one of the major neurology centres in the UK.  It has particular interests in Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimers, stroke and multiple sclerosis (MS).  It combines experimental and clinical research.  Many of its clinicians thus spend time in both environments, and there is a seamless connection between them and the BRC.  Its many techniques include genetic studies, drugs trials, patient management techniques,  new approaches to therapy in MS and stroke, as well as many associated experimental projects on cell and molecular biology.

Neurosurgery. One of the most prominent academic departments of neurosurgery in the UK.  It has major interests in acute head injury (together with Department of Anaesthesiology), glioma biology and treatment,  developing new methods of bedside patient monitoring, the dynamics of the blood-brain barrier, brain haemorrhage and novel methods of imaging the damaged brain.  There are close interactions with both the BRC and the Department of Neurology.  As with that Department, the members of Neurosurgery have both clinical and experimental projects, and collaborate extensively with those in the other components of Clinical Neurosciences. 

Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre (WBIC). Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre (WBIC). This is housed in a £11.5 million building on the site of the renowned Addenbrooke’s Hospital, close to the BRC, Neurology and Neurosurgery.  It has major interests in developing new imaging methods, based both on new hardware and on computational techniques.  As well as a GE PET camera, the imaging facilities comprise two  3T Siemens MRI systems. The first was a TIM Trio system, installed in 2006. More recently the Centre has acquired a 3T Verio system. The Centre is also a major programme in developing and synthesising ligands for PET. Its members also collaborate extensively  with other components of the Department, and with those in Chemistry, Metabolic Medicine, Anaesthesiology, Psychology, Psychiatry etc. 

2 courses offered in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences

The Department invests much time and resource in its research training programme, which it regards as one of its central activities.  It attracts applicants from a wide range of disciplines, reflecting its own comprehensive approach.   We have students with backgrounds in medicine (including both qualified medics and those pursuing the MB/PhD programme), biological science, mathematics, physical and chemical science  and psychology.

The Department of Clinical Neurosciences consists of both senior scientists and clinically qualified active researchers with a wide range of expertise and experience focused on a common set of topics. This provides a superb environment for research training in both basic and clinical neurosciences.  Currently, we have more than 60 graduate students and numerous post-doctoral fellows (about half come from outside the UK).

The Department attracts a large number of applicants, and we admit about 15-20 students per year.  The selection process is managed by the Graduate Training Committee, which consists of representatives from the individual sub-units and is chaired by the Department’s Director of Training, Professor Joe Herbert.  All shortlisted applicants are invited for interview either in person or by telephone depending upon their geographical location.

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The Department invests much time and resource in its research training programme, which it regards as one of its central activities.  It attracts applicants from a wide range of disciplines, reflecting its own comprehensive approach.   We have students with backgrounds in medicine (including both qualified medics and those pursuing the MB/PhD programme), biological science, mathematics, physical and chemical science  and psychology.

The Department of Clinical Neurosciences consists of both senior scientists and clinically qualified active researchers with a wide range of expertise and experience focused on a common set of topics. This provides a superb environment for research training in both basic and clinical neurosciences.  Currently, we have more than 60 graduate students and numerous post-doctoral fellows (about half come from outside the UK).

The Department attracts a large number of applicants, and we admit about 15-20 students per year.  The selection process is managed by the Graduate Training Committee, which consists of representatives from the individual sub-units and is chaired by the Department’s Director of Training, Professor Joe Herbert.  All shortlisted applicants are invited for interview either in person or by telephone depending upon their geographical location.

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6 courses also advertised in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences

From the Department of Medicine

The MD Degree is a doctorate awarded to clinicians who undertake an extended period of scientific research. It provides an opportunity for doctors to receive recognition of research achievement within an approved academic programme.

The MD programme, on a par academically with the PhD, spans a maximum of six years, allowing candidates to undertake their research alongside clinical or other responsibilities, at the end of which their dissertation is examined by viva. Those candidates working in Cambridge will be assigned a University supervisor and become registered students of the University and members of a College. Those candidates intending to work at an institution outside Cambridge must already hold a Cambridge degree and must apply to take the MD by Special Regulations.

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From the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research

The Cambridge Institute for Medical Research (CIMR) is one of the leading research institutions in the UK and provides a unique interface between clinical and basic biomedical science. Its major goal is to determine and understand the molecular mechanisms underlying human disease. The strength of the institute is that members work on a variety of diseases using a wide range of methodologies which makes it a superb place for graduate training in biological and medical sciences. CIMR has ~30 group leaders working in a range of disease mechanisms, ranging from neurodegenerative disease, haematological disorders, immunological and infectious diseases to cancer.

Research in CIMR is focused on fundamental cell biological processes, with particular emphasis on membrane trafficking, organelle function, protein homeostasis and folding, the cytoskeleton and autophagy.

The Cambridge Institute offers a three-year full-time PhD programme of research under individual supervision of Principal Investigators based in CIMR.  This course can also be taken as part-time option over  6  years. The  PhD students are based in a research group, supported by their primary and secondary supervisor and the CIMR Graduate Education Committee. There is no taught and examined course work, but students can take part in core topic discussion sessions held once a week by PIs in CIMR. Along with the specific research training provided in the laboratory in which the student works, he/she receives further training within the CIMR in the form of graduate workshops concentrating on research techniques, research seminars both on the Addenbrooke's site and elsewhere in the University, and graduate student seminars dealing with generic skills such as intellectual property rights, writing a thesis or paper, and entrepreneurship. Students write a dissertation, which is examined via an oral examination.

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From the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research

The Cambridge Institute for Medical Research (CIMR) is one of the leading research institutions in the UK and provides a unique interface between clinical and basic biomedical science. Its major goal is to determine and understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying human disease. CIMR is a great place to do a PhD whether you are interested in the function of healthy cells and tissues or in what goes wrong during disease. Our scientists' work is aimed at understanding the cell biology of disease mechanisms using a wide range of disciplines including biochemistry, genetics, structural biology, cell biology, immunology and molecular biology.

The application of many approaches and techniques is often necessary to understand biological systems. Our PhD programme offers rotations in the first year providing experience in different disciplines, followed by a 3-year project in your chosen lab.  The CIMR provides a unique interface between clinical and non-clinical research allowing us to use different diseases to understand cell biology and different cell biological approaches to understand the mechanisms of disease. CIMR provides an exciting and friendly training environment.

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From the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research

The Cambridge Institute for Medical Research (CIMR) is one of the leading research institutions in the UK and provides a unique interface between clinical and basic biomedical science. Its major goal is to determine and understand the molecular mechanisms underlying human disease. The strength of the institute is that members work on a variety of diseases using a wide range of methodologies which makes it a superb place for graduate training in biological and medical sciences. CIMR has ~30 group leaders working in a range of disease mechanisms, ranging from neurodegenerative disease, haematological disorders, immunological and infectious diseases to cancer.

Research in CIMR is focused on fundamental cell biological processes, with particular emphasis on membrane trafficking, organelle function, protein homeostasis and folding, the cytoskeleton and autophagy.

The Cambridge Institute offers a one-year full-time MPhil programme of research under individual supervision of Principal Investigators based in CIMR.  This course can also be taken as part-time option over  two years. During their MPhil the students are based in a research group, supported by their primary supervisor and the CIMR Graduate Education Committee. There is no taught and examined course work,  but students are encouraged to attend research seminars at the Addenbrooke's Biomedical Research Campus and elsewhere in the University, and graduate student seminars dealing with generic skills such as intellectual property rights, writing a thesis or paper, and entrepreneurship.  Students write a dissertation, which is examined via an oral examination.

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From the Department of Medicine

The Cambridge MRC Doctoral Training Programme  is a partnership between the University of Cambridge and the Babraham Institute. Included as associate partners are the MRC Institutes and Units in Cambridge, and other University Partner Institutes.

The Programme is offering at least 10 fully funded PhD studentships for projects commencing in October 2017.

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From the Department of Medicine

This innovative programme was established in 2002 as a collaboration between the University of Cambridge and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Its aim is to train outstanding students in biomedical research, taking advantage of the outstanding research environments.  Students work on collaborative projects organised by co-supervisors at both Cambridge and the NIH, spending two years at each institution.  Students have access to all NIH facilities and are paid by the NIH.  The PhD is awarded by the University of Cambridge.

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Department Members


Professor Patrick Chinnery
Head of Department

  • 18 Academic Staff
  • 45 Postdoctoral Researchers
  • 93 Graduate Students

http://www-neurosciences.medschl.cam.ac.uk/

Research Areas