Doctoral training partnership (DTP)

Note to prospective students interested in applying for a doctoral training partnership (DTP) studentship MRC funding:

We do not directly recruit students for our DTPs. Please contact the relevant DTP for details of recruitment, including timescales, deadlines and application processes.

MRC DTPs provide funding for doctoral training across a broad research range relevant to MRC’s remit, strategic research and skills priorities. DTPs also provide a breadth of professional development training opportunities to enhance the capabilities of doctoral candidates and develop a world-class, highly skilled workforce for the UK.

MRC DTPs are awarded for multiple intake years of students and provide research organisations (ROs) with significant flexibility in the use of funds to support doctoral training aligned to the RO’s scientific strategy and strengths.

Doctoral training partnership allocations 2022 to 2026

In July 2021, MRC awarded 17 new DTPs for three intakes years (2022-2024) in the first instance. The remaining two intake years (2025-2026) will be awarded following a light-touch mid-term review.

MRC’s vision for these DTP awards is to support high quality doctoral training programmes that take a student-centred approach, focusing on scientific excellence, positive research culture and wider training opportunities.

To maximise the ability and flexibility to achieve this vision, MRC funding for industrial Collaborative Awards in Science and Engineering (iCASE) studentships was embedded within this competition, instead of awarding separately.

MRC doctoral training partnership allocations 2022 to 2024

Below is a list of MRC doctoral training partnership allocations 2022 to 2024, the number of MRC notional students awarded each year (2022 to 2024 intake years) and the research themes supported by the DTP.

Please note that a ‘notional studentship’ is set at the equivalent of a four-year studentship, based on UKRI minimum stipend and support levels.

Cardiff University (lead)

University of Bath, University of Bristol, University of Exeter
16 DTP, 1.34 iCASE

Research themes are:

  • neuroscience and mental health
  • infection, immunity, antimicrobial resistance and repair
  • population health sciences.

Imperial College London (lead)

8 DTP, 0 iCASE

Research themes are:

  • infections and disease
  • understanding disease mechanisms in humans
  • big data to improve health.

Institute of Cancer Research

6 DTP, 4 iCASE

Research themes are:

  • genome stability and DNA damage response
  • advanced therapeutics
  • radiation oncology and biology.

Kings College London

11 DTP, 4 iCASE

Research themes are:

  • cells, molecules and the basis of health and disease
  • neuroscience and mental health
  • biomedical engineering and medical imaging.

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (lead)

Lancaster University
4 DTP, 1 iCASE
Research theme is translational and quantitative research with a focus on global health.

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (lead)

St George’s University of London

6 DTP, 0 iCASE

Research themes are:

  • global health
  • health data science
  • translational and implementation research
  • infectious disease.

The University of Manchester

14 DTP, 6 iCASE

Disease mechanisms, detection and diagnosis, and developing interventions around:

  • cancer
  • infection, immunity, inflammation and repair
  • neuroscience and mental health
  • applied health
  • data science
  • molecular, cellular and developmental biology.

University College London (lead)

Birkbeck, University of London

18 DTP, 4.5 iCASE

Research themes are:

  • fundamental mechanisms of disease
  • experimental and translational medicine
  • neuroscience and mental health
  • health of the public – using population data for better health.

University of Birmingham (lead)

University of Leicester, University of Nottingham

7 DTP, 3 iCASE

Research themes are:

  • metabolic and infectious diseases
  • cancer
  • chronic inflammatory conditions and respiratory disease
  • psychological disorders.

University of Cambridge

0 DTP, 5 iCASE

Research themes are:

  • neuroscience and mental health
  • infections and immunity
  • molecular and cellular mechanisms of disease
  • data science for health.

University of East Anglia

3 DTP, 2 iCASE

Research themes are:

  • microbes
  • microbiomes
  • antimicrobial resistance.

University of Edinburgh (lead)

University of Glasgow

9 DTP, 5 iCASE

Research theme is precision medicine.

University of Liverpool (lead)

Institute of Cancer Research, Queen Mary University London, University of Aberdeen, Bangor University, University of Birmingham, University of Cambridge, University of Glasgow, University of Leeds, University College London, Newcastle University, University of Plymouth

6 DTP, 0.67 iCASE

Trials methodology with interacting sub-themes of improving:

  • efficiency and resilience of trials
  • informativeness of trials
  • stakeholder engagement.

University of Oxford

6 DTP, 8 iCASE

Global health focused on:

  • infection and Immunology
  • neurosciences (including Psychiatry and Experimental Psychology)
  • cancer
  • population health, genomics and genes.

University of Sheffield (lead)

University of Leeds, University of Liverpool, Newcastle University, University of York

16 DTP, 4 iCASE

Research themes are:

  • infection and global health
  • cancer
  • multimorbidity, frailty and diseases of ageing.

University of Southampton (lead)

Queen Mary University of London

5 DTP, 4 iCASE

Precision Medicine and Advanced Therapies focused on:

  • cancer, neurological and inflammatory diseases
  • infectious disease and antimicrobial resistance
  • global health.

University of Warwick

4 DTP, 2 iCASE

Research themes are:

  • molecular basis of human disease
  • combating infectious disease
  • precision diagnostics and data analytics.

Converting MRC DTP studentships into iCASE studentships

Universities that receive an MRC doctoral training partnership (DTP) have the flexibility to convert DTP studentships into iCASE studentships, if appropriate for the project, partners and student. As a measure of its interest and commitment, the non-academic or company partner must make a specific, identifiable contribution to the research training of the student.

In addition to the contribution to the research training of the student, the company’s contribution must include:

  • an annual cash contribution to the academic partner towards the cost of the project of at least £1,400 per year, for the remainder of the studentship
  • a mandatory cash payment of at least £2,500 per year as a supplement to the stipend, for the remainder of the studentship
  • a cumulative period of no less than three months spent working in the facilities of the industrial collaborator (this three-month period can be at any point during the studentship and may consist of a number of shorter visits if appropriate)
  • the company’s costs while the student is working at the premises of the company
  • all additional expenses, such as the cost of travel and accommodation incurred by the student as a direct result of attendance at the premises of the cooperating body.

Small to medium size enterprises (SMEs) are exempt from making cash contributions to stipends and project costs. The MRC DTP flexible supplement can be used to meet these additional costs where the collaborating partner is an SME.

SMEs are companies that meet the definition included in Recommendation 1996/280/EC of an SME:

  • The enterprise must have a staff headcount of less than 250
  • The enterprise must have a turnover not exceeding €50 million or a balance sheet total not exceeding €43 million.

MRC may agree to vary any of the above stipulations provided that the case is made in the application.

UK-based organisations can be considered as the non-academic partner if they can provide students with distinctive research training and experience not available in an academic setting. Organisations eligible for UKRI funding (such as NHS Trusts) cannot act as a non-academic partner. Where the non-academic partner is a company, it must have an established UK based research or commercial production capability, or both. In exceptional cases, organisations based overseas may be eligible, but only where they can provide the student with an opportunity to gain skills not currently available in the UK.

Intellectual property rights and publication

The host research organisation will need to agree intellectual property arrangements with industrial collaborators (taking care to retain IP rights themselves). The agreed distribution of project generated IP should meet either the fully flexible requirement or gated contributions requirement. The intellectual property (IP) management and distribution arrangements should therefore reflect the requirements of the appropriate category.

PhD students must be able to publish their project outcomes without restriction in accordance with good research practice. Consequently, industrial CASE studentships are expected to be pre-competitive. The host institution will need agreement and confirmation that the data generated from this research can be placed in the public domain within a reasonable timeframe prior to commencing the studentship.

Doctoral training partnership supplement

Universities receiving an MRC DTP get an additional flexible supplement to support unique training opportunities for MRC-funded PhD students. The process, management and allocation of this flexible supplement award is at the discretion of the DTP.

Supported use of this flexible supplement falls broadly into the following areas (although this list is not exhaustive and categories advertised via DTPs are at the discretion of the research organisation):

  • high cost training, which could include training in MRC skills priorities, bioinformatics and modelling
  • exceptional training opportunities, such as overseas fieldwork, internships/placements and training in new advanced research skills
  • opportunities to provide training in partnership working with industry or at the interdisciplinary interface, including internships/placements and collaborative training
  • transitions from PhD for outstanding candidates to increase competitiveness in applying to positions within and beyond academia, following thesis submission.

The award replaces a number of bespoke schemes previously available from MRC, such as individual overseas fieldwork allowances and in vivo science strategic skills awards. Universities with flexible training awards are able to make local decisions on who will benefit most from further support. They are able to use the funds to support all MRC-funded PhD students at their institution; interested students should seek guidance from their university on support available.

Last updated: 27 July 2023

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