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Duration

One year, full time

Application Deadline

30 June 2020

Location

St George's, University of London

UK, EU and non-EU (international) citizens may apply

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Biomedical scientists work at the cutting edge of research and medicine, helping to solve some of the most threatening diseases and conditions facing mankind. St George’s boasts a renowned heritage in this field, constantly developing new and innovative solutions to enhance diagnosis, prevention and treatment of numerous diseases. Edward Jenner, the ‘father of immunology’ who successfully performed the first vaccination against smallpox, was based at St George’s. More recently, our research has included a focus on tuberculosis, malaria and HIV in low and middle income countries.

This compelling course enables you to continue that pioneering work. It will provide you with the skills, knowledge and experience for a rewarding career in biomedical science or to progress on to a fulfilling research degree such as a PhD. 

You can look forward to working directly alongside high-calibre researchers who are leading and respected experts in their fields. You will learn numerous, valuable transferable skills including; critical appraisal, problem solving, research techniques, accessing technology for FRET and TURF, utilising large data, numeracy, and presenting skills.

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Highlights

  • Excellent Image Resource and Biomedical Research facilities to gain strong research knowledge and skills.

  • Shared campus with St George’s Hospital, one of the largest teaching hospitals in the UK.

  • Expertise in clinical, epidemiological and laboratory research within both the university and the hospital.

Tuition fees

2020 UK/EU: £13,250

2020 Non-EU (international): £23,000

Fees are reviewed annually.

For more information, see our fees and funding pages.

Funding your study

We have a range of funding opportunities available for students. You may be eligible for the following.

  • A postgraduate loan from the UK government of up to £10,609. Find out more information about postgraduate loans at fees and funding.
  • An alumni discount – if you're a former St George’s student you can qualify for an additional 10% discount from this course.

For more information, see our fees and funding pages.

Read more information about our courses and university services terms and conditions.

To be considered for this course, you will need to:

  • meet the entry criteria

  • write a personal statement

  • provide two suitable references.

All qualifications must have been awarded no more than five years before the start date of the course you are applying for.

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Undergraduate degree or equivalent

You should have, or be expected to achieve, a minimum of a second class degree (2:2) in a biomedical science or a science related subject (or an equivalent overseas qualification). This must be completed, awarded and certified by 1 August 2019.

If you are invited for an interview you will be asked to write a short paper (no more than one page) on a subject associated with biomedical research. 

English Language

If your native language is not English, you will need to provide evidence of your English language ability.

English language tests are valid for only two years. If you took a test more than two years ago, you will be required to complete another. Applicants are only permitted a maximum of two test attempts within a one year period.

  • IIELTS: overall 6.5, with 6.0 in Listening, 6.0 in Reading, 6.0 in Writing and 6.0 in Speaking

  • Pearson (PTE Academic): overall 67, with 67 in Listening, 67 in Reading, 67 in Writing, 67 in Speaking

  • Cambridge English Advanced (Certificate in Advanced English): overall 185, with no less than 176 in each section

  • Cambridge English: Proficiency (also known as Certificate of Proficiency in English): overall 185, with no less than 176 in each section

Personal statement and references

You will be asked to outline your reasons for applying for the course in a brief personal statement on the application form. You will also need to provide two satisfactory references. See the ‘Apply’ tab for more information.

On the Reproduction and Development pathway you will be taught the essentials of conducting high quality research through a range of core modules, and will gain a detailed knowledge in the area of reproduction and development before undertaking your research project. 

The MRes is made up of 180 credits. All modules are compulsory and will equip you with the skills and knowledge to conduct high quality research. 

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Core modules

Research methods

15 credits

Statistics

15 credits

Research project planning and management

15 credits

Research project

105 credits

Specialist module – Reproduction and development

This 30 credit module will begin with the exploration of the science of reproduction covering a range of aspects of women’s health including: normal sexual differentiation, endocrine disorders, hormonal control of fertility, pregnancy and contraception.

The module will also explore development and disease, covering embryonic development with an emphasis on molecular mechanisms and human congenital disorders. It will include an introduction to experimental techniques, terminology, model organisms and the use of transgenic mouse technology.

This pathway will take advantage of active reproduction and development research taking place at St George’s, laboratory skills sessions and clinical case-based lectures, giving you an insight into how understanding of the cellular processes involved in reproduction and development can help design strategies to aid fertility and treat/manage defects in development. The module will also provide you with insight into how new sequencing technologies and ‘omics’ methodologies are helping to decipher the cellular mechanisms involved in reproduction and development. 

Past research projects

The substantive research project is worth 105 credits. Here are some examples of past student projects.

Does oxygen regulate stanniocalcin-1 in pregnancy?

Aims: The aims of this project are: (1) to identify which cells within the placenta express STC-1; (2) to determine whether the secretion of STC-1 by the placenta and or trophoblasts are regulated by the concentration of oxygen; and (3) to determine whether STC-1 is elevated in the serum of women in the first trimester who later develop pre-eclampsia.

Brief overview: Stanniocalcin-1 (STC1) is a glycoprotein originally discovered in bony fish where it acts to regulate calcium and phosphate homeostasis. In mammals the protein has been implicated in a number of physiological and pathophysiological processes, including ovulation, lactation, organogenesis, cerebral ischemia and tumour angiogenesis. Although in humans it is expressed by a number of tissues it has only been reported in the serum of pregnancy women and is elevated in pregnancies complicated by pre-eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia is a disorder of pregnancy characterised in late gestation by endothelial cell dysfunction, high blood pressure and proteinuria. However, the origins are believed to be in the first trimester. It is a syndrome that affects up to 8 per cent of all pregnancies, resulting in poor placental perfusion and babies that are small for gestational age. The source of the STC-1 during pregnancy is not known and therefore the regulation of its secretion has not been studied.

Methods used for data collection: Tissue and cell culture, ELISA, western blot, immunohistochemistry.

The role of calcium signalling in ciliopathy induced retinal degeneration

Aims: To use zebrafish to investigate whether aberrant calcium signalling may underlie retinal degeneration in ciliopathy patients.

Brief Overview:  The cilium is a small antenna-like organelle located on the cell surface. It plays a major role in signalling pathways required for normal tissue development. There is an emerging group of human disorders, known as ciliopathies, which affect cilia function. The ciliopathies share many clinical features, including retinal degeneration leading to blindness. The photoreceptor (PR) has a modified cilium connecting the inner and outer segment, allowing transport of high-turnover light-sensitive opsins (including rhodopsin), synthesised within the cytoplasm, to the outer segment where they have their function. Cilia are enriched with ion channels required for activating the photo-transduction cascade through membrane depolarisation and stimulated neurotransmitter release. Indeed, PR death has been linked to PR overstimulation. Thus photoreceptor death might be linked to aberrant intracellular ion release. Using rhodopsin expression as readout of photoreceptor quantity, we performed an in situ hybridization (ISH) drug screen for modifiers of rhodopsin expression in zebrafish eyes using an ion channel ligand library. We found a number of calcium agonists and antagonists that affected rhodopsin gene expression. Using an eye-specific genetically encoded fluorescent calcium indicator, this project hopes to explore the function of PR cilia in relation to calcium release.

Methods used for data collection: Generation of transgenic zebrafish lines, confocal microscopy, morpholino gene knockdown, Immunohistochemistry, qPCR, zebrafish husbandry.

The effect of genome-engineered GNB1L mutations on WNT-signalling

Aims

  1. Generate loss-of-function mutations of GNB1L and associated proteins in HEK-293 cells
  2. Determine the effects of GNB1L inactivation on WNT-signalling in HEK-293 cells

Brief overview:  The GNB1L gene is commonly deleted in 22q11 Deletion Syndrome (22q11DS). 22q11DS results from hemizygous deletion of a region of chromosome 22q11.2. This leads to behavioural and psychiatric problems, including autism (ASD) and schizophrenia (SZ). The study of the molecular basis of 22q11DS therefore provides a valuable opportunity to gain greater understanding of common genetic factors that cause predisposition to both ASD and SZ. GNB1L has been independently associated with ASD and SZ. Patients with schizophrenia, but without 22q11 deletion, have altered levels of GNB1L within the pre-frontal cortex. Mice that are hemizygous for GNB1L display neuro-behavioural abnormalities associated with psychiatric diseases, including schizophrenia.

GNB1L has been linked to autism, following the identification of affected individuals and families with translocation/sequence variants involving this gene. Together, these data suggest that GNB1L may be involved in the pathogenesis of psychiatric illness in 22q11DS and in the wider population. Little is known about GNB1L function, but we have discovered that it is able to regulate the WNT-signalling pathway. WNT-signalling has been previously associated with ASD and SZ. This project will further explore the cellular function of GNB1L using genome engineering techniques to create inactivating mutations of GNB1L and associated proteins in cell culture. The student will then assess the effects of these mutations on WNT-signalling.

Methods used for data collection: Cell culture, transfection, SDS-PAGE, western blotting, immunofluorescence, reporter-assays, DNA cloning, CRISPR/Cas9 genome engineering, DNA sequencing.

Molecular pathogenesis of hypogonadotropic hypogonadism

Aims: Screening of genes involved in gonadal development using zebrafish model.

Brief Overview: Congenital idiopathic hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (CHH) refers to a failure to initiate or complete puberty naturally. CHH individuals are mostly infertile due to sex hormone (LH/FSH) deficiency. Kallmann syndrome (KS) is a type of CHH, but has the additional characteristic of an absent or abnormally decreased sense of smell, known as ‘anosmia’. KS/CHH can affect both men and women, and the current treatment is the administration of GnRH or gonadotrophin to induce puberty and restore fertility. However, a significant number of patients do not respond to the current treatment and never regain normal gonadal function.

The genetic basis of KS/CHH has been well documented and mutations of different genes have been identified in around 50 per cent of cases. This project aims to investigate the pathogenesis of CHH and KS using zebrafish as a model system. We will use targeted morpholino injections and CRISPR/Cas9 technology in zebrafish to validate the impact of KS/CHH gene knockdown in the normal sexual development and function of hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal axis, ultimately revealing new insight in the mechanisms of KS/CHH.

Methods used for data collection: In situ hybridisation, immunohistochemistry, zebrafish embryo manipulation, PCR, microscope imaging.

Teaching is delivered through a variety of methods, such as lectures, course-specific seminars and small group sessions. You will also participate in self-directed study and wider reading, as well as individual and group practical sessions.

St George’s is the only university in the country to give you the opportunity to undertake a nine month research project in this topic. This will give you time to immerse yourself in detailed research, generating high quality data that could be impactful enough for publication. It’s incredibly valuable work and has led to many exciting discoveries and important breakthroughs.

You will have the freedom to choose from a wide-ranging list of projects, and to work in a vibrant research environment with world-renowned researchers. You will also work with their research teams, PhD students and post-doctoral scientists to gain insight and experience over the course of your project.

At St George’s, you will benefit from working as part of a small, close-knit team. Students, clinicians and researchers work happily and effectively together. St George’s is more a small community than a large anonymous institution, with all the advantages that brings for personal input and development.

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Teaching and learning methods

During the first term you will meet potential supervisors to familiarise yourself with the research activity within each pathway and to identify an appropriate project. Broadly speaking, your topic should be within the fields of biomedical sciences, healthcare, or health services and use appropriate scientific methods.

The self-directed component of your course includes the in-depth study of an area of interest, developing research and presentation skills, and gaining insight into possible careers.

Teaching for core modules is concentrated in the autumn term. Teaching for specialist modules takes place over the year. Throughout this time you will either be attending lectures or laboratory sessions on most days of the week. Students choose their projects and start with laboratory work from mid-October, and complete their research by September.

Dissertation projects will involve the assembly, analysis and interpretation of data. Project titles and areas for research will be identified by module leaders and will relate to the pathway selected by the student.

(These modules are not available to be studied separately from the MRes.)

Assessment methods

Assessments are designed to help students with preparation for their dissertation. They help you review published work critically, use appropriate experimental design, and analyse experimental data. They also enable you to develop scientific writing and presentation skills.

All modules are assessed through written assignments or an oral presentation, with the exception of the statistics module which is assessed via examination. The optional modules require the submission of written reports. Following the research project, you will be asked to present a poster on your research.

If you want to pursue a career in biomedical research – whether in academia, industry or government – this course will open up a world of opportunities.  Many St George’s graduates have gone on to work in a variety of exciting and fulfilling careers in the biotech industry.

This course is highly effective in accelerating your development within your general healthcare career. The depth and quality of the academic research that you will undertake on your nine month project will also put you in a good position to apply for a PhD.

All applications must be submitted through our online application system.

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How to apply

  1. Click ‘apply’ above.

  2. Create an account.

  3. Complete the application form and upload any relevant documents. You can save a partly completed form and return to it later. Please make sure you complete all sections. Please make sure that the information you provide is accurate, including the options you select in menus.

  4. Add admissions@sgul.ac.uk to your address book to ensure you do not miss any important emails from us.

  5. When you have checked that your application is complete and accurate, click ‘submit’.

You can track your application online.

References

Please provide two references to support your application. These must be submitted using the Reference Request Form.

One must be a recent academic reference. The other should be either a second academic reference or a professional/employer reference. They should cover your suitability for the course and your academic ability. (See the form for more detail on what the references should cover.)

Your referees should know you well enough, in an official capacity, to write about you and your suitability for higher education. We do not accept references from family, friends, partners, ex-partners or yourself.

They should be dated no more than a year before the date of your application, and must be uploaded within two weeks of making your application.

Download the reference request form (Word)

Apply now

Duration

One year, full time

Application Deadline

30 June 2020

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