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2021-22 HPRU Vaccines and Immunisation Studentships

NIHR-funded PhD studentships in applied health protection research at LSHTM in collaboration with Public Health England

Vaccines & Immunisation

The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) has been awarded three five-year grants from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) in collaboration with Public Health England (PHE) for three Health Protection Research Units (HPRUs) in Environmental Change & Health, Immunisation, and Modelling & Economics.

HPRUs are joint research units that facilitate world-class research between PHE and leading UK universities in areas of applied health protection research that are directly relevant to the mission of PHE.  They have a strong emphasis on research training, and provide opportunities for students to undertake research degrees on highly topical issues that feed directly into national policy making and public health response.

Read more about the NIHR funding competition

Within Theme 3 (‘Immunisation delivery systems and public interactions with vaccines’) of the Immunisation HPRU, funding is available for one three-year full-time PhD studentship to start in September 2021. 

The successful candidate will conduct research in a range of cutting-edge applied health protection research topics.

The Research Training Environment

Students will be mentored by supervisors at both LSHTM and PHE, and be guided by an Advisory Committee consisting of at least two other experienced researchers who may be external to LSHTM and PHE.  They will have the unique opportunity of conducting research in both academic and public health settings, and spend time in both institutions.

Students, academics, and professionals come to the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) from all over the world because of its international presence, collaborative ethos, research excellence and prestigious study programmes in public and global health.

Find out details of the School’s rankings and awards as well as current research in action.

Faculty of Public Health and Policy

The studentship will be based in the Faculty of Public Health and Policy (PHP) which is focussed on the improvement of health throughout the UK and worldwide.  We do this through research, teaching and the provision of advice in the areas of health policy, health systems and services, and individual, social and environmental influences on health.  Interests and activities embrace the health needs of people living in countries at all levels of development.  We run a range of popular and highly respected MSc courses, short courses and CPD.  We encompass the disciplines of epidemiology, public health medicine, economics, political science, international relations, anthropology, sociology, history, psychology, statistics and mathematics.

Students will be mentored by their supervisor and an Advisory Committee consisting of at least two other academics, who can be from outside the School.  Students are expected to take part in the academic life of their department and can also be members of other Academic Centres - e.g. Vaccine Centre, Centre for Health Economics in London and the Centre for Statistical Methodology.  All research seminars and journal clubs are open to PhD students from across the School. Students are able to take up to four Master’s level Study Modules per academic year, subject to approval from their supervisor.

The Vaccine Centre at the LSHTM

The Vaccine Centre at the LSHTM is a consortium formed of over 100 scientists based at the school and among its partner institutions with a common interest in research and training on vaccines.  The Centre encompasses a tremendous breadth of vaccine research from vaccine design and immunological characterisation through clinical trials, and on to epidemiological evaluation, vaccine safety, economic modelling, social science and policy analysis.   Centre scientists work in over 50 different countries worldwide and contribute to some of the principal global networks of vaccine investigation.   The portfolio of current projects includes research on vaccines to control malaria, tuberculosis, pneumococcal and meningococcal diseases, influenza, measles, rubella, HPV, rotavirus, Hib, Hepatitis B, norovirus, dengue, Ebola, sleeping sickness and traveller’s diarrhoea as well as veterinary pathogens.   The Centre also aims to enhance the teaching of vaccine research skills spread across the School’s post-graduate training programmes and in the short course for the Epidemiological Evaluation of Vaccines run each July.

Public Health England (PHE)

Public Health England (PHE) is a world leading scientific organisation with a mission to improve the nation’s health and wellbeing, reduce inequalities and protect the public’s health.   It works to achieve this through world leading science, knowledge and intelligence, advocacy, partnerships and the delivery of specialist public health services.   It is an executive agency of the Department of Health & Social Care whose remit it is to put public health policy into action.   Its 5,500 strong workforce provides Government, local authorities, the NHS, Parliament, industry and the public with evidence-based, public health delivery expertise and support.

Career Development Opportunities

Students completing an HPRU PhD will be trained for a career in either academia or public health, or indeed spanning both.  At LSHTM, support for research students’ future career development is covered through the supervision process, through the Transferable Skills Programme (in the School and the Bloomsbury Postgraduate Skills Network) and the LSHTM’s Careers Service.  They will also spend time at PHE observing and participating in research to address practical day-to-day delivery of public health.  They will have unprecedented opportunities to network and establish professional contacts through formal and informal interactions with members of staff at LSHTM and PHE and other students.   Activities include an extensive range of seminars and workshops.   The PhD programme also facilitates national and international conference attendance by students which provides networking opportunities.

Financial support

The studentship award covers

  • tuition fees (at the LSHTM Home fee rate), and
  • a tax-free stipend of GBP 17,009.00

for three years. 

Please note: the award is only available to candidates who meet the eligibility requirements for Home fees.  Further information about fee status assessment can be found on the UKCISA website.

Doctoral Project

Project Title
Parents ‘journey to vaccination’ in the NHS: examining the public and health system interface

Supervisory team
LSHTM: Sandra Mounier-Jack & Tracey Chantler
PHE: Louise Letley
Lead Supervisor: Tracey Chantler

The perspectives of service users on access to vaccination are understudied.  We will explore how parents learn about immunisation services, e.g. what information they receive and how they respond to interactions with health care providers.  We will set up a longitudinal cohort of mothers in antenatal clinics and community settings and follow them over up to 15 months, gathering data through interviews, a mother-baby app or the e-red book (if available) at key childhood immunisation milestones.

We are looking for a PhD student to:

  1. set up a qualitative longitudinal cohort study of mothers recruited in antenatal clinics and community settings.
  2. examine parents’ experience (‘journey to vaccination’) of accessing maternal and childhood immunisation in England and analyse access constraints and inequalities.
  3. make recommendations to PHE and service providers involved in childhood immunisation on how to improve patient experience, access and acceptability of immunisation services.

This research will build on tailored Patient and Public Involvement, Engagement and Participation (PPIEP) activities.

The principal supervisor will be Tracey Chantler, Assistant Professor in Public Health Evaluation and the associate supervisor will be Sandra Mounier-Jack, Associate Professor in Health Policy.  Sandra Mounier-Jack is a leading researcher in health systems and policy research, with a particular interest in vaccination programme delivery, in the UK and globally.  Tracey Chantler is an anthropologist who has strong experience in studying and evaluating immunisation delivery in the UK.   The student will also be advised by Louise Letley from PHE.

Eligibility criteria

All applicants must meet minimum LSHTM entry requirements.  In addition, the candidate must have evidence of:

  • Relevant undergraduate and Master’s degrees, both awarded at a high grade.  Applicants with a very strong undergraduate degree and relevant experience will be exceptionally considered.
  • Demonstrable attention to detail
  • The ability to work to deadlines
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • An interest in applied health protection research and experience of working in public or primary health care settings in the UK

Project- specific eligibility criteria (in addition to general eligibility criteria above):

  • Master’s degree (or equivalent training) in Public Health, Medical Anthropology or Health Service Research or equivalent
  • Strong interest in qualitative research methodologies, and good understanding of epidemiology
  • Interest in Public Health Protection
  • Experience of collaborating with communities that are underserved in relation to accessing primary health care services

How to apply

Candidates are encouraged to contact the lead supervisor before applying.

Applicants should then apply by providing the following supporting documents:

  • A 2-page curriculum vitae, including details of their academic achievements to date and the names of 2 referees (at least one of whom should be able to comment on your academic ability)
  • A research proposal of up to 1,000 words*
  • A covering letter saying why they are interested in undertaking a PhD in this area at LSHTM
  • Copies of the transcripts from their undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications
  • An eligibility form

*The research proposal should identify a specific research question or hypothesis, expanding on one of the topics listed on the website, summarise the relevant background information (with no more than five key references) and should outline an appropriate research methodology by which the question can be addressed.

Applications should be submitted by email to php.rdadministrator@lshtm.ac.uk.  Please state clearly in the heading and text of the email that this is an application for an NIHR HPRU studentship, please include the title of the project you are applying for. 

Only applications in the correct format will be considered.

The deadline for applications is 10.00am BST on 3 May 2021.