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. For more information, click here.
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. For more information, click here.
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. For more information, click here.
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. For more information, click here.
About our research training
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. For a list of available projects,click here:
Research Training at Cambridge
Graduate training is very different from undergraduate courses. It’s based on individual needs and abilities, and is designed to help you to think clearly, originally and practically, and to prepare you for leadership in science. We teach our graduate students how to plan and carry out cutting-edge research. Cambridge is an amazing place to learn how to do research. Visiting speakers and collaborators come from all over the world, and there are simply too many seminars for one person to attend! We have a careful system of monitoring the individual progress of each student; everyone has both a principal supervisor and associated advisor, and there are weekly student-led seminars.
Research training within the Department has several essential components, the first and foremost being the research project itself, to which you will make a significant contribution. This will give you experience and training in a variety of experimental and/or clinical research techniques, but will also teach you how to organise research, plan experiments, and read and digest the scientific literature relevant to your research work. Most research groups have weekly or fortnightly meetings in which all members discuss each others work.
However, other skills are also important. You will be required to attend seminars and round-tables, and you will have the opportunity to go to scientific meetings both in the UK and abroad. These bring you into direct contact with prominent and active scientists in your field from around the world.
You will also give scientific talks yourself. Audiences for such talks are often quite large, and the discussion of your paper is often very lively. You will also be expected to attend courses, either directly related to your research (eg they might teach you a specific skill, or expand your theoretical knowledge) or teach you things any well-qualified scientist needs to know (how to write a scientific paper, use databases, interact with the media and so on). Many of these courses (there are dozens) are run by the the Graduate School, but the Department has its own series of seminars and workshops (see below), and an annual Spring School, which is focused each year on a different topic.
We expect our graduate students to publish in high quality journals, and nearly all of them do so.
Our students are part of a larger body of around 6000 research students, and are affiliated to the Graduate School of Life Sciences, which provides much teaching and other resources. Together with the intellectual stimulation provided by this and the numerous other scientific departments in the University, the Colleges offer additional pastoral care, social contacts, recreational facilities and, in some cases, accommodation. All graduate students belong to a College (there are 31). Our research students lead the intense life you would expect as part of one of the most distinguished research Universities in the world.
You can find out much more about this and related topics on graduate training at Cambridge on the Board of Graduate Studies website, and a huge amount of information interesting to both prospective and current graduate students on the Graduate School’s website. Information about the strength and breadth of neuroscience research in Cambridge is on the Cambridge Neuroscience website.
Contact us: click here
Current students should consult the schedule of in-house lectures and workshops here
Further details about training courses for current graduate students can be found here
For additional information about postgraduate courses: click here
Details about career development for current graduate students will be found here