A centre of excellence conducting pioneering research into human degenerative diseases. Our state of the art research environment is world leading.
Biomedical Science at Ulster University has an outstanding record of success in research, having been awarded the highest possible rating in RAE1996 and 2001, and ranked first place in terms of research power in RAE2008. In REF2014, we were judged to be among the top five universities in terms of research power (out of 92 UK submissions) with 100% four star rating for our research environment.
All postgraduate researchers become members of the Biomedical Sciences Research Institute (BMSRI) in which all research is managed by the BMS Research Director. Our mission is to conduct pioneering strategically focused research into the Biomedical Sciences, personalised medicine and nutrition.
Our world-class researchers investigate causes, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease including cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, obesity and visual deterioration.
Our staff and students span the Biomedical Sciences School and the School of Pharmaceutical Science & Pharmacy Practice.
We are the largest Research Unit within Ulster University and supervision for postgraduate degrees is available in all of the research areas listed below. Further details of projects can be obtained from Professor Peter Flatt, Research Director for BMS, or from the Doctoral College https://www.ulster.ac.uk/doctoralcollege
About this course
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Biomedical Sciences research activities are currently organized within distinct Research Groups: Diabetes, Food & Health (through Nutrition Innovation Centre for Food and Health (NICHE)), Genomic Medicine, Pharmaceutical Sciences & Practice, Stratified Medicine and Vision Science.
At Ulster University’s Coleraine campus, Biomedical Sciences research is undertaken in our Centre of Molecular Biosciences and our Saad Centre for Pharmacy research. Stratified Medicine research is also undertaken at our Clinical Translational Research & Innovation Centre (C-TRIC) located at Altnagelvin Area Hospital Derry/Londonderry. Translational research is also undertaken at our Wellcome Clinical Research Facility at the Belfast City Hospital (partnership between Ulster University, Queen’s University Belfast and Belfast City Hospital).
Multi-disciplinary collaboration between the research groups is strongly encouraged and is widespread with research into, for instance, anti-diabetic and antioncogenic aspects of nutrition, the genomics of vitamin receptors, visual deterioration or cancer, imaging of neovascularisation. Our research investigates the interaction between cardiovascular disease and vision and the impact of health and disease, diet, diabetes on dementia, hypertension, vascular and inflammatory disease, to name a few.
In practice, the research groups collaborate both internally and internationally on a range of prioritized multi-disciplinary themes in: ageing, drug discovery and delivery, personalized medicine and genomic medicine. There is also opportunity to undertake research in a number of multi-disciplinary research areas, which combine cutting edge Biomedical Sciences research with psychology, computing and engineering and computational biology. The BMSRI has strong collaborations with regional and global pharmaceutical and diagnostics companies and many of our graduates and postgraduates gain employment in the pharma, diagnostics and health care sectors as well as academia.
BMSRI strategically aligned with Industrial partner and global market leader within the in vitro diagnostics industry, developing innovative diagnostic solutions for hospitals, clinical, research and molecular labs, food testing and life sciences. The development of the Randox Industrial Doctoral Centre enables interdisciplinary postgraduate PhD research of global significance, which generates innovative and novel research for direct translation into the R and D pipeline of Randox.
As a full time student, the expectation is that you will work on your project on a daily basis, either on or off campus as agreed with your supervisor. You will be entitled to 40 days holiday per annum.
Part time students are expected to meet with their supervisors on a regular basis, most usually this would be monthly but this is dependent on the project area.How to apply
We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.
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You will need to hold a First of Upper Second Class Honours degree (or equivalent) in an area relevant to your chosen project to be able to apply.
If you have obtained an undergraduate degree from a non-UK institution, we can advise you on how it compares to the UK system.
English Language Requirements
English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for research degree programmes is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. This is the only acceptable certificate for those requiring to obtain a Tier 4 visa.
Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.
Careers & opportunities
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Although academia is considered to be the most obvious path for any PhD holder, with around two thirds of our graduates remaining in the Higher Education or Research sectors, the degree also paves way for a career in industries centred on research and innovation.
PhD graduates are recognised by employers to hold valuable transferrable skills, as the nature of the degree trains candidates in creativity, critical inquiry, problem solving, negotiation skills, professionalism and confidence.
The most recent Ulster survey of PhD graduates found that 92% had secured employment within the first year since graduation (HESA Destination of Leavers Survey 2015).
ApplyHow to apply
Ulster University welcomes applications from all sections of the community and from persons with disabilities. It is University policy to assess all applications using academic criteria and on the basis of equality of opportunity and you should be assured that reasonable adjustments will be made should you require them.
Once you have selected your chosen project from the lists available on the Faculty pages, you are advised to make contact with the named supervisor on the project as they will be able to guide you in writing your research proposal.
You should then apply using our online application system: ulster.ac.uk/applyonline
Fees and funding
A number of funded scholarships are available across the University each year for PhD projects. Applications for studentships will be considered on a competitive basis with regard to the candidate's qualifications, skills, experience and interests.
Sources of funding
Fees (per annum)
Home and EU £4260
Home and EU £1540
Home and EU (with External Sponsor paying fees) £2200
Distance Research Study (Home and EU) £6600
Research facilities and groups
The BMSRI offers a “state-of-the-art” research environment for high profile researchers to undertake internationally agenda setting research in strategically prioritized areas of biomedicine. This research environment earned Biomedical Sciences at Ulster a No. 1 ranking in RAE2008, and was again rated as 100% “world-leading” in REF2014. Our research is carried out in well-equipped laboratories allowing the latest methods to be applied to individual projects. Our entire infrastructure is managed as Core Facility Units (CFUs) with equipment and laboratories dedicated to: advanced molecular bioimaging/microscopy, bioinformatics, cell biology, chemical analysis, genomics, proteomics/metabolomics (include Mass Spectrometry & NMR analysis), transgenics, physiology and pharmacology.
The BMSRI research infrastructure also includes centralized resources for: high throughput drug screening in vitro assays, clinical research & human intervention studies/ trials; the use and storage of mammalian cells and tissues; and in vivo studies in Animal reporter gene models and animal models that replicate human disease. The BMSRI uses its estate of equipment, specialist laboratories, infrastructure and internationally recognized biomedical expertise to offer clinical & translational services to Academic Researchers and Industrial Business partners. The BMSRI routinely engages in collaborative research with some of the world’s leading pharmaceutical and biomedical companies and through the support of Ulster’s Office of Innovation, the University has established a track record of success in the commercialization of its research outcomes.
At C-TRIC, clinicians, academics and businesses in the life and health sector can collaborate to facilitate the research, development and launch of innovative health technologies, medical devices and therapeutics. In addition to high-spec capabilities such as human genome sequencing, FLOW cytometry and tissue culture, C-TRIC’s hospital location also permits direct access to NHS diagnostic laboratories and Clinical Research Nurses, and its on-site office of the Western Trust’s Research and Development department provides access to expertise in research governance and healthcare economics.
The expansion of biomedical research during the last 10 years and more has led to the construction of the £14.5M Centre for Molecular Biosciences (CMB) at the Coleraine campus. This expansion in research infrastructure later led to the creation of a number of “virtual” centres of excellence which are housed within the CMB building, i.e., the Centre for Functional Genomics (CFG), the FEI Centre for Advanced Bioimaging (CFAI) and the Centre for Nutrition & Bone Health whose overall aim is to develop a new “all-Ireland” expert research capability focused on nutrition and bone health, particularly targeted at identifying strategies to prevent osteoporosis.
The SAAD Centre for Pharmacy and Diabetes provides contemporary and state-of-the-art facilities to support our diabetes and metabolomics research activities, as well as facilities for mass spectrometric and NMR analysis. This building also provides infrastructural support for our newly launched pharmacy/pharmaceutical sciences courses and associated research activities. These include: the formulation and production of antimicrobials for pharmaceutical applications; health promotion in community pharmacies; and the discovery and development of novel therapeutics such as anti-cancer agents, luminescent and nanoparticle sensors, bioimaging, photo/sono-dynamic therapy, and polymeric and nanoparticle drug delivery systems.
Autumn 2013 saw the launch of an £11.5 million collaborative project between the BMSRI, C-TRIC and the Western Health and Social Care Trust. Subsequently in 2017 further investment €8.6 million, EU’s INTERREG VA programme, which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body, allowed establishment of The Centre for Personalised Medicine, Clinical Decision Making and Patient Safety which aims to dramatically improve clinical decision-making and tailored patient care in five priority disease areas: heart disease; emergency surgery; acute kidney injury; diabetes and dementia. The cross-border collaboration between the academic, clinical and commercial sectors allows for meaningful patient based research, which will directly impact upon quality of life of patients locally and internationally.
Taken together, these facilities make Ulster University one of the UK’s leading research centres for Biomedical Sciences.
Food and Nutrition:
Optometry and Vision Science:
Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences:
Staff research areas
A full list of all research active staff in the Unit can be found here:
My name is William Crowe and I’m a final year PhD student in the School of Biomedical Sciences at Ulster University, Coleraine. I previously completed a BSc in Human Nutrition with a Diploma in Industrial Studies at UU which I thoroughly enjoyed. I applied for a PhD as I have an interest in the nutritional immunology research which is being conducted at the University and I was aware of the advanced laboratory facilities available. Throughout my PhD I’ve been provided with continuous support and guidance by my supervisors and the staff at the University. I’ve also received many opportunities to further enhance my professional development in the form of teaching experience and presenting my work at conferences which will aid in my pursuit of a career in academia or industry.