Four-year Wellcome Trust PhD studentships in Public Health, Economics and Decision Science

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About the programme

Recruitment for the for the programme starting in September 2019 is now closed.

We seek to train the next generation of researchers in conducting high-quality research into the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of complex multi-component public health interventions and policies to reduce non-communicable - or chronic diseases. Funding is available for four cohorts of five top-calibre PhD students to work on some of the most pressing public health challenges.

Each four-year studentship provides:
• A generous stipend at Wellcome Trust rates
• Tuition fees for 4 years
• A training and travel fund to support cohort events, internships, courses, data collection, conferences and research travel

This PhD programme is unique in its focus on interdisciplinary public health, health economics, mathematical modelling and statistics. To equip students with relevant skills, the first year combines multi-disciplinary methods training tailored to each student's background, cohort-based learning activities and exposure to public health decision making practice. This is followed by PhD research on a topic that is agreed between the student, our pool of expert supervisors and the programme directors.


Directors

Petra Meier Wellcome Trust ImageProfessor Petra Meier Health Psychology, Epidemiology

Public health policy, with focus on alcohol and health inequalities. Specialises in highly multi-disciplinary research. Interested in the application of complex systems approaches to public policy.

Alan Brennan Wellcome Trust ImageProfessor Alan Brennan Health Economics and Decision Modelling

Innovative use of health economics and mathematical modelling techniques to inform public health decision-making, especially on cost-effectiveness of interventions and public health policies.

Tessa Peasgood WT ImageDr Tessa Peasgood Health Economics

Expertise in measuring and valuing well-being for public policy, and understanding the determinants of well-being and happiness.

Elizabeth Goyder Wellcome Trust ImageProfessor Elizabeth Goyder Public Health Medicine

Public health intervention evaluations; Inequality reduction. Directs the NIHR HS&RD Evidence Synthesis Centre, UK lead for the EU INTEGRATE project on evidence synthesis for complex interventions; Public Health and Inequalities Theme Lead for the CLAHRC Y&H. Deputy Dean of ScHARR.

Penny Breeze WT Image Dr Penny Breeze Health Economics and Decision Modelling

Health economics modeller specialising in longitudinal data analysis for use in decision-analytic modelling, specifically in complex natural history models with multiple dynamic risk factors.

Mark Strong Wellcome Trust ImageDr Mark Strong Public Health Medicine/Statistics

Bayesian statistics and health economic modelling focusing on uncertainty analysis: “when is a decision model good enough?”


Why we have developed this programme

Helping to tackle major chronic diseases

Chronic disease accounts for the majority of the burden of disease in the developed world. Much of this burden is due to avoidable lifestyle behaviours – especially smoking, alcohol consumption, poor diet and physical inactivity. This burden can be reduced through well-targeted and coordinated public health policies.

Public Health Decision Science explicitly seeks to identify which combinations of interventions to prioritise for action and to estimate their return on investment.

In a health resource–constrained environment, there is an urgent need for a highly skilled workforce with expertise in decision modelling to support resource allocation decisions, by providing estimates of the long-term impact of public health interventions for different population subgroups, including detailed analysis of costs and benefits.

Decision-makers in the UK and internationally require evidence on (a) which combinations of interventions would most effectively reduce chronic disease burden; (b) what trade-offs exist between the outcomes prioritised by different stakeholders; and (c) which resource allocations will deliver greatest return on investment. Development and synthesis of new scientific evidence is crucial to answering these challenging questions.


Novel multidisciplinary working

Public Health Decision Science is an exciting cross-disciplinary area of research that draws on skills from across traditional departmental boundaries, including:

  • mathematics, statistics, economics, psychology, sociology, health economics, systems engineering, business studies, politics, and geography.

Our mission is to enable the highest calibre postgraduate researchers to build on their existing discipline-specific knowledge, and to complement this with training in another field.

To develop a true multidisciplinary cohort of scientists, we will support excellent health and related disciplines graduates in developing advanced quantitative analytical skills; and equip top mathematics, economics, systems engineering and related disciplines graduates with public health training and methodological expertise.


Individually tailored training

Our programme is structured to allow students to define their own learning trajectory, in discussion with their programme tutors.

The first year of the programme offers a unique training opportunity. Students attend a bespoke selection of 4 taught masters modules which complement their previous background and interests, engage in cohort-based research training activities, engage with senior scientists and meet public health leaders in monthly 'meet a decision maker' sessions.

Rotations through three 'research attachments' chosen from a list of options will allow students to develop experience of working in different topic areas and with different potential supervisors before making a final decision about the direction of their own PhD thesis work, and appropriate supervisory panel, in years two to four of the programme.


Future careers in academia or decision making organisations

Our programme will prepare graduates to develop rewarding careers in academia or stakeholder organisations which will allow them to contribute to public health policy decisions to reduce the burden of disease in the UK and internationally.


Vision

We aim to:

  • Establish the world’s first Doctoral Training Centre in Public Health, Economics and Decision Science capitalising on existing infrastructure and research excellence
  • Make significant contributions to methodological development and scientific evidence on how to tackle chronic disease burden through well-evidenced, cost-effective public health strategies.
  • Create and sustain a cohort of multidisciplinary public health science leaders who develop excellent careers in academia and stakeholder organisations, fully engaged in public health policy making and reducing the burden of chronic disease in the UK and internationally.

Why Sheffield? - School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) and collaborating Departments

ScHARR REF WT Image

ScHARR provides an excellent research environment

ScHARR is a multidisciplinary school with over 320 staff, including over 30 professors. It has an annual research grant income of over £10m and ranks 4th for research ‘power’ and 2nd for ‘impact’ in the UK league tables for its subject area (REF2014 UK UoA2).

ScHARR is fundamentally multidisciplinary. It spans applied and methodological, primary and secondary, qualitative and quantitative health related research with an explicit focus and mission to support UK and international decision making.

We are renowned for the quality of our research and our staff. We have expertise in public health policy appraisal, health economics, cost-effectiveness modelling, health services research, trial design, evaluation of complex interventions and valuation of health and well-being.

ScHARR consistently attracts high calibre individuals from a wide range of backgrounds including health, psychology, mathematics, statistics, the physical sciences, computer science, engineering and the quantitative social sciences, and pathways for moving between quantitative disciplines and health related research are well-trodden. As well as attracting grant funding, the School has a successful track record in winning studentships and fellowships that have facilitated training at doctoral and post-doctoral levels in economics, statistics and computer modelling. The School hosts a number of large programmes that add value to the doctoral training environment. ScHARR is a member of the NIHR School for Public Health Research and CLAHRC Yorkshire and Humber, and through these programmes fellows have access to a large network of researchers working on applied public health topics.


Postgraduate teaching and research is priority

There are currently 100 doctoral and 250 masters students in the School, providing a vibrant postgraduate environment. As part of the University of Sheffield, we have a well-developed approach to PhD training.

The University of Sheffield's Doctoral Academy supports bespoke training needs analysis for all Postgraduate Research (PGR) students, including access to masters modules across faculties/disciplines and generic research and career skills training.


Excellent collaborations with key departments

We have strong and constant collaborations with other University departments and especially the 5 departments who provide supervisors for this PhD programme.


National and international research networks

Sheffield has joint research programmes and networks with leading Universities across the UK and globally.

NIHR SPHR WT Image

NIHR School for Public Health Research collaborating with University College London, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Universities of Newcastle, Durham, Teesside, Northumbria and Sunderland, Bristol, Liverpool and Lancaster, and Cambridge

EEPRU WT ImageJoint lead of the Department of Health’s Economic Evaluation Policy Research Unit

NICE WT ImageLargest NICE evidence review group providing health technology assessment reports

NICE DSU WT ImageLead institution for the NICE Decision Support Unit

UKCTAS WT ImagePartner in the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies – with a particular focus on behaviours and health economics themes

CWiPP WT ImageThe Centre for Health and Wellbeing in Public Policy (CWiPP),

CLAHRCYH WT ImageNIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRCYH).

NCSEM WT ImageMember of the National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine

Wellcome Trust DTC students will be fully embedded into this collaborative multidisciplinary culture from the start.


Commissioned work from policy and research bodies

Funding bodies currently supporting our research to address key policy questions in Public Health Economics and Decision Science:

  • Government departments in the UK
  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)
  • Public Health England (PHE)
  • National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)
  • Medical Research Council
  • Economic and Social Research Council
  • Research charities e.g. Cancer Research UK
  • EU Framework Programme

We make a difference to policy and decisions

We have a track record of impactful evaluations and appraisals of public health policies whilst simultaneously driving forward methodological development.

The example of alcohol pricing
The Sheffield Alcohol Policy Model (SAPM) has provided the key evidence on minimum unit pricing, drinking guidelines and other alcohol policies since 2008. It is used by the UK government, devolved administrations and international governments (e.g. Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and in Canada) for policy impact assessment and decision making. Results and methodological articles have been published in world leading journals (e.g. Lancet, BMJ). Our researchers have fully engaged in policy development and analysis to inform government decisions e.g. through reports to governments, attending as witnesses at Parliamentary Select Committees, interviews on the TV, radio, news and media and engaging in public debate.


Use and develop existing policy models

ScHARR has developed and owns the Intellectual Property on a series of public health economic decision models like the Sheffield Alcohol Policy Model. Students will be able to access, utilise and further develop this infrastructure.


Have a look what the referees judging the programme proposal said

  • “The proposed training is in public health economics and decision science (PHEDS) to assist complex decisions on interventions to reduce chronic disease, trade-offs between competing priorities and cost-effectiveness of resource allocations. These are important and difficult issues for which there is needed expertise, and the program would be unique.”

  • “The cadre of potential supervisors is excellent, with diverse, but interrelated, expertise distributed among the faculty. It is likely that all students at intake will be able to identify at least one, and probably more, supervisors who will align with their research interests.”

  • “I particularly like the proposed plans for supervisor and topic selection. Students will receive continual multidisciplinary mentorship and be encouraged to pursue research that addresses relevant and complex public health challenges. The long list of distinguished faculty advisors is both impressive and consistent with the overall aims of the program.”

  • “The institutional commitment is excellent.”


Eligibility

Please check the criteria carefully. Do not submit an application if you do not meet the criteria as it will be rejected before reaching academic assessors. 

You will need to provide evidence of the following

  • A first or upper second class honours (2:1) degree from a UK university or a non-UK equivalent in a relevant discipline (e.g. mathematics, statistics, epidemiology, public health, psychology, nutrition, quantitative sociology, politics, economics, systems engineering, business studies, geography). Medically qualified applicants should refer to the special rules set out below
  • A completed master’s degree at merit or distinction or a non-UK equivalent in a relevant subject or more than one year of formal employment in either a relevant scientific environment or in public health decision making (by the application closing date)
  • Quantitative maths skills equivalent to A at A Level (can be evidenced through degree level courses)
  • Determination to make a significant scientific contribution to tackling chronic disease burden through well-evidenced, cost-effective public health strategies, assessed through written application and, if shortlisted, interview
  • Ability and enthusiasm for collaborative work in an interdisciplinary environment, assessed through written application and, if shortlisted, interview
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills, and excellent problem solving skills assessed through written application and, if shortlisted, interview

The programme is open to UK and international applicants. The Wellcome Trust provides tuition fees at UK/EU rates. ScHARR will provide up to two international fee waivers per year for exceptional candidates. Non-EU candidates must be able to comply with UK immigration regulations.



English language requirements

All EU (except ROI) and overseas candidates from countries not classed as majority native English speaking countries must submit a valid IELTS AcademicTOEFL or Pearson test score as evidence of fluency in English. This must have been taken no earlier than two years before the course start date.

Required scores are:

IELTS

Overall score of 7.5 and a score of at least 7.0 in each testing area (speaking, listening, reading and writing)

TOEFL

Overall score of 103, with at least
22 in listening
24 in reading
25 in speaking
24 in writing

Pearson test

Overall score of 72 with at least 67 in each of the listening, reading, writing and speaking components.


Applicants with medical degrees

The scheme is not open to clinicians, or those who have recently completed medical training, as these candidates can apply to alternative Wellcome Trust funding schemes. Those who can demonstrate that they have already left clinical careers and have been working in academia, policy, or other areas for a significant period of time are eligible. Explain this carefully in your personal statement.

How to apply

Recruitment for the for the programme starting in September 2019 is now closed.

Complete an online application and upload the following mandatory documents:

  • degree certificate(s) and academic transcripts listing courses/modules and marks awarded
  • A level certificates or high school leaving certificates
  • evidence of maths skills (see eligibility criteria)
  • two academic references, or one academic and one employment reference (relating to a contract of more than one year)
  • CV - maximum 3 sides A4, font size 10 or larger, pdf or MS Word format. See jobs.ac.uk for ideas of what to include.
  • personal statement explaining why you are the right person for the programme and why this is the right programme for you at this time - maximum 800 words, font size 10 or larger, MS Word
  • evidence of English language skills, if you are an EU or overseas candidate from a country other than a majority English-speaking country (see eligibility criteria)

Optional supporting documents:

  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test results, which we can consider as additional evidence of academic ability
  • evidence of academic publications or academic prizes (after age 16)

You should not submit a research proposal

References

Choose referees who know you well and can comment on your skills, ability and 'fit' with the programme.

References should either be provided on University/company headed paper, signed, scanned and uploaded on the application system or by providing their professional email address in the application system and generating reference requests. Ensure your referees are available to respond quickly as applications without references cannot be considered.

Choosing the correct options in the online admissions system

In 'Part 2: Course Applications' select 'Add new research course'.

Then choose:

  • Qualification applying for: Doctoral Training Course. A further drop down menu will appear with a list of possible courses. Select the Wellcome Trust programme from the list.
  • How do you want to study: Full time
  • When do you wish to start your research: September 2019

Contact our Doctoral Training Centre Manager if you have further questions.

Supervisors

Roberta Ara WT ImageDr Roberta ARA Mathematics

Health related quality of life in arthritis, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and methodological challenges involved in populating models with utilities.

Julie BalenDr Julie BALEN Public Health

Global health systems and health policy, leadership and governance in health, human resources for health, system-wide challenges and opportunities posed by emerging infectious diseases and neglected tropical diseases.

Sue Baxter WT ImageDr Sue BAXTER Public Health

Systematic review methodologies for complex public health interventions, qualitative evidence synthesis, theoretical perspectives, logic models.

John Brazier Wellcome Trust ImageProf John BRAZIER (Dir) Health Economics

Measuring and valuing health and well-being for economic evaluation, inter-sector impacts of public health interventions. Director of the Dept. of Health Policy Research Unit for Economic Evaluation. ScHARR Director of Research.

Penny Breeze WT ImageDr Penny BREEZE Health Economics

Developed the Sheffield Type 2 Diabetes Model and decision model for the appraisal of multi-behaviour interventions in selected population groups. Complex natural history models with multiple dynamic risk factors.

Alan Brennan Wellcome Trust ImageProf Alan BRENNAN (Dir) Health Economics and Decision Modelling

Innovative use of health economics and mathematical modelling techniques to inform public health decision-making, especially on cost-effectiveness of interventions and public health policies.

Nicola Buckland photo Dr Nicola BUCKLAND Psychology

  Human appetite, eating behaviour, perceptions about foods, goal priming, weight management, promoting environmentally sustainable diets and individual differences.

Chris Carroll Dr Chris CARROLL Systematic Review and Evidence Synthesis

 Systematic review and evidence synthesis of medical, health and social science topics, including qualitative and mixed method evidence synthesis. The Health Technology Assessment (HTA) process and related decision-making.

Mike Campbell Wellcome Trust ImageProf Mike CAMPBELL (Dir) Statistics

Leading expert in the design and evaluation of complex interventions, including cluster randomised trials. 

Sam Caton Dr Sam CATON Biopsychology

Appetite regulation and nutrition, child health behaviours.

Jim Chilcott WT Image Prof Jim CHILCOTT Mathematics, Operational Research

Agent based simulation of behavioural interventions in complex public health systems, cognitive mapping for systematic reviews, Bayesian analysis of joint disease natural history.

Richard Cooper Dr Richard COOPER Public Health

Empirical and normative ethics in the healthcare professions, medicine supply (prescribed and over the counter) and misuse/abuse (over the counter, illicit), medical sociology.

Andy Dickerson WT ImageProf Andy DICKERSON Labour Market Economics

Functioning of labour markets, analysis of micro and longitudinal data, including matched datasets. Member of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UK CES) Expert Panel.

Simon Dixon WT ImageProf Simon DIXON Health Economics

Expertise in developing methods for economic evaluations alongside RCTs; measurement and valuation of health care benefits, measurement of public preferences and willingness to pay for public health.

Pete DoddDr Pete DODD Health Economics

Infectious disease modelling, epidemiology of TB, TB in children, individual-based modelling methodologies, methods for model calibration and uncertainty analysis.

Duncan Gillespie WT ImageDr Duncan GILLESPIE Biological Sciences

Studies the interplay between health, social and demographic change using both mathematical and statistical methods.

Steve Goodacre WT ImageProf Steven GOODACRE Emergency Medicine

RCTs, economic analysis.

Elizabeth Goyder Wellcome Trust ImageProf Elizabeth GOYDER (Dir) Public Health Medicine

Public health intervention evaluations; Inequality reduction. Directs the NIHR HS&RD Evidence Synthesis Centre, UK lead for the EU INTEGRATE project on evidence synthesis for complex interventions; Public Health and Inequalities Theme Lead for the CLAHRC Y&H. Deputy Dean of ScHARR.

Janet Harris WT ImageDr Janet HARRIS Management Sciences

Mixed methods evaluations, realist evidence synthesis.

Monica Hernandez WT ImageDr Mónica HERNÁNDEZ ALAVA Economics

Analysis of micro-level data on individuals’ economic behaviour, for example analysis of health state utility data, the dynamics of child developmental outcomes, and individuals’ decisions to participate in welfare programmes.

Michelle Holdsworth WT ImageProf Michelle HOLDSWORTH Human Nutrition

Work programmes on determinants of diet and healthy body weight at individual and environmental levels, population-level interventions; linking research, policy, practice. 

John Holmes WT ImageDr John HOLMES Social Policy

Modelling the temporal dynamics and clustering of health behaviours; e.g. investigating age-period-cohort and time lag effects

Anju Keetharuth Dr Anju KEETHARUTH Health Economics

Outcome measurement, psychometrics, economic evaluation and current health policy analysis including PROMs: e.g. recovering Quality of Life (ReQoL) - a brief generic measure for use with mental health populations. Economic evaluation of mental health policies and community services.

Nick Latimer Dr Nick Latimer Health Economics

Economic evaluation methodology, with a particular emphasis on the incorporation of survival analysis and adjusting survival estimates in the presence of treatment switching. Economic evaluations alongside clinical trials, and particularly the incorporation of value of information analysis in feasibility trials.

Petra Meier Wellcome Trust ImageProf Petra MEIER(Dir) Health Psychology, Epidemiology

Effectiveness of alcohol interventions. Her alcohol minimum pricing work influences policy nationally and internationally (Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Latvia, EU Commission). ScHARR Director of Postgraduate Research.

Clara Mukuria Dr Clara Mukuria Health Economics

Development and testing of preference-based health measures in different populations. Assessing the use of well-being as an outcome measure for economic evaluation. Mapping between condition-specific and generic preference-based measures of health.

Jon Nicholl WT ImageProf Jonathan NICHOLL Medical Statistics

Health care evaluations, particularly in emergency and urgent care. Expert in the evaluation of complex interventions. National Director of the NIHR School for Public Health Research and Dean of ScHARR.

Paul Norman WT ImageProf Paul NORMAN Health Psychology

Application of social cognition models to the prediction of health behaviour.

Jeremy Oakley WT ImageProf Jeremy OAKLEY Mathematics

Bayesian statistics, in particular analysing uncertainty in complex computer models, eliciting probability distributions, and applications in Health Economics.

Suzy Paisley WT ImageDr Suzy PAISLEY Information Sciences

Methods for the systematic identification of evidence for decision-analytic models of complex public health problems and interventions.

Tessa Peasgood WT ImageDr Tessa PEASGOOD Health Economics

Expertise in measuring and valuing well-being for public policy, and understanding the determinants of well-being and happiness.

Robin Purshouse WT ImageDr Robin PURSHOUSE Control Systems Engineering

Research to improve how decision makers choose between possible solutions to a problem, with a particular focus on multi-criteria decision making in public health policy appraisal.

Jenny Roberts WT ImageProf Jenny ROBERTS Economics

Director of the Institute for Economic Analysis of Decision-making. Expertise in applied microeconometrics, particularly the interaction of health and labour market outcomes, health-related behaviours, health valuation and the economics of well-being.

Sarah Salway WT ImageProf Sarah SALWAY Demography/Sociology

Inequalities of race/ethnicity, gender and poverty & their relationship with chronic disease. Director of ScHARR’s NIHR School for Public Health Research programme.

Phil Shackley WT ImageDr Phil SHACKLEY Health Economics

Willingness to pay techniques, applications of which include: estimating the social value of a quality adjusted life year (QALY); the use of willingness to pay to evaluate the benefits of public health interventions.

Hazel Squires WT ImageDr Hazel SQUIRES Operational Research

Methodological frameworks for public health models.

John Stevens WT ImageDr John STEVENS Mathematics / Statistics

Director of the Centre for Bayesian Statistics in Health Economics. Bayesian methods in health economics and related research.

Matt Stevenson WT ImageProf Matt STEVENSON Mathematics/Operational Research

Technical Director of the NIHR-funded ScHARR-TAG technology appraisal programme. Focus on methods research in discrete event simulation, individual patient modelling and mathematical modelling.

Mark Strong WT ImageDr Mark STRONG(Dir) Public Health Medicine/Statistics

Bayesian statistics and health economic modelling focusing on uncertainty analysis: “when is a decision model good enough?”

Paul Tappenden WT ImageDr Paul TAPPENDEN Health Economics

Role and value of Whole Disease Modelling.

Praveen Thokola WT ImageDr Praveen THOKOLA Operational research, health economics

Praveen’s work involves the use of operational research techniques (such as multi-criteria decision analysis, simulation modelling, optimisation) in health care.

Chloe Thomas Dr Chloe THOMAS Healthcare modelling

Public health-related modelling projects; in particular the School for Public Health Research (SPRH) diabetes model. Modelling the cost-effectiveness of genetic screening programmes, genomics and novel biologic treatments.

Aki Tsuchiya WT ImageProf Aki TSUCHIYA Health Economics

Measuring, valuing, and modelling health and well-being and health inequalities. Director of the Centre for Health and Wellbeing in Public Policy (CWiPP) which facilitates cross-faculty public health research.

Gill Valentine WT ImageProf Gill VALENTINE Geography

Social identities and belonging; childhood and family life; and urban cultures and consumption. Pro-VC for Social Science.

Ben V Hout WT ImageProf Ben VAN HOUT Health Economics

Extensive modelling expertise, contributed key methodological innovations in economic evaluation. Founding member of the EuroQol group and chair of the valuation task force within the EQ-5D group.

Allan Wailoo WT ImageProf Allan WAILOO Economics, Statistics

Director of the NICE Decision Support Unit. Special interest in the relationship between social values, e.g. equity preferences, and decision making.

Stephen Walters WT ImageProf Stephen WALTERS Mathematics / Statistics

Design, analysis and reporting of trials of complex interventions, Health Related Quality of Life (HRQoL) outcome measures.

Scott Weich Prof Scott WEICH Mental health

Psychiatric epidemiology. Socio-economic, ethnic, gender and spatial variation in rates of anxiety and depression. Positive mental health and specifically the measurement and epidemiology of mental well-being. Observational and mixed methods research and the use of secondary data.

Tracey Young WT ImageDr Tracey YOUNG Health Economics

Developing methodology for deriving condition-specific preference based measures from existing quality of life instruments

Year one

Year one training will embed Wellcome Trust Scholars in ScHARR’s interdisciplinary, team-based research culture. The cohort will develop interdisciplinary grounding and methodological skills through taught masters modules. Students will receive generic research skills training, engage with public health decision-makers, and 'road-test' potential supervisors and topics during three research attachments. Finally, together with the programme directors they will select a supervisory panel and generate a detailed research proposal outlining the planned PhD work for years two to four.

Induction, mentors and training needs analysis (month one)
There will be an induction session at the start of the programme to ensure students are aware of the range of University services available to them. There will also be a social event so students can meet each other, Programme Directors and potential supervisors.

All students will be assigned two Programme Directors to support them in Year 1. With their tutors, students will discuss their aspirations and expectations, undertake a formal training needs analysis and devise a personal timetable of 4 taught masters modules, generic skills training, and research attachments. Training for students from mathematical disciplines will focus on public health, while students with health-related backgrounds will focus on economics and mathematical modelling.

To assist students in deciding with whom they would like to undertake their research attachments, a seminar will be held for potential supervisors to introduce their research area to students.

Research attachments
Students will undertake three eight-week research attachments with different potential supervisors, joining their teams/project groups when not in lectures and seminars. Students will explore a number of potential PhD research topics and plans in each attachment.

Research proposals
Towards the end of year one, students will develop a detailed research proposal in one of the topic areas they explored, and supervisors and tutors will be available to provide guidance in topic and supervisory panel choice.

Years two to four

Supervision years two to four
Quality supervision is crucial to the postgraduate experience. We are committed to ensuring excellent standards, incorporating best University practice. Training needs analyses will be revised and agreed with supervisors and a Programme Director each year. As students develop, supervisors will identify further training opportunities, assess progress, discuss career aspirations and identify ways to maximise potential.

Student progress will be carefully monitored with:

  • monthly student-led supervision meetings, with student-drafted agendas, meeting notes and next objectives
  • 6-monthly thesis planning meetings
  • examination on a 10,000-word confirmation report by viva.

Year two
From year 2, students and supervisors will plan academic research visits, external courses, conference attendances, and possible internships with research-relevant external organisations. Relevant national conferences include, for example, the Lancet public health conference, the Health Economics Study Group, and the UKCRC meetings. International meeting attendance relevant to PhD topic will be agreed with supervisors. Travel grant applications will be considered by Programme Directors.

Year three
During year 3, students are encouraged to organise their own internship (up to 3 months) at a stakeholder/research organisation (e.g. the NHS, NICE, Local Authorities, Public Health England, government departments, WHO, industry, and centres of recognised scientific excellence). Students will work collaboratively with these academics and decision-makers, enabling further research translation and impact.

Year four
Year 4 students will concentrate on thesis submission, viva and academic publications. Supervision support is particularly intense during this period. The draft thesis will be read and commented on by all supervisors in the supervisory panel. We also runmock examinations to support viva preparation.

Current Cohorts

Cohort 1 (2016/17)

Tom Batley Tom Bayley

In 2015 Tom graduated from the University of Warwick with an MMath degree. During his degree he specialised in mathematical modelling and statistics, and took a particular interest in modelling of biological systems and processes. For his Masters project he explored a stochastic model of Malaria spread. Alongside his degree he also spent time at the Anthony Nolan institute investigating geographic trends in the genetic data stored in their database of donors. Tom's research interests lie in exploring the interaction between physical and mental health as well as how these are both affected by the wider determinants of health

Title of PhD: The relationship between obesity and depression and the influence of socioeconomic position. Supervisors: Mark Strong, Sam Caton, Paul Bissell

Sarah Bates Sarah Bates

Sarah completed a Psychology degree at the university of Surrey in 2012 and a MSc in health psychology at King’s College London in 2015. Between studying she has worked as a research assistant on a range of clinical trials relating to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, lung disease and dissociative seizures. Sarah's research interests are health behaviour change, public health economic modelling and determinants of weight loss maintenance. She is also interested in how psychological theory can inform health economic evaluations.

Title of PhD: Incorporating psychological factors in to a health economic model of weight loss maintenance. Supervisors: Alan Brennan, Paul Norman, Penny Breeze

Simon McNamara Simon McNamara

Simon's work is primarily focused on inequalities in health, and, in particular, the way in which inequalities are captured within economic evaluation in health. Prior to joining Sheffield, Simon spent six years working as a Health Economist within the pharmaceutical industry. He holds an MSc in Behavioural Science from the London School of Economics and Political Science, an MSc in Health Economics from the University of York, and a BSc in Economics from the University of York. Simon's research interests are Equity/efficiency trade-offs in economic evaluation, The valuation of subjective well-being, The role of emotion in choice experiments.

Title of PhD: Health Inequality Aversion: Does the Type of Health matter? Supervisors: Aki Tsuchiya, John Holmes

Genevieve David Genevieve David

Genevieve completed a BSc in Biology and a Doctor of Medicine degree at the University of Santo Tomas in the Philippines, and a Master in Public Health (with Distinction) with specialization in Health Economics and Governance of Health Systems at the University of Sheffield, École des Hautes Études en Santé Publique (France) and Jagiellonian University (Poland) as a scholarship holder in the European Master in Public Health Programme. Prior to the start of her PhD, she spent more than five years working in the Philippine health sector as a Municipal Health Officer and rural physician, in a consultancy role and as a technical staff in the Department of Health involving the development of high-level policies. All these contributed to her understanding of how public health programs are implemented, and health policy development and decision-making processes involving multiple stakeholders with various interests, and that currently shape her research interests of economic evaluation of public health interventions and the application of operational techniques in public health decision-making.

Title of PhD: Use of Stated Preference Method to Elicit Public Preferences for and Attitudes Toward Interventions to Reduce Alcohol-related Harm in English Public Health Decision-Making. Supervisors: Simon Dixon, Penny Buykx

Rob Smith Robert Smith

Rob studied for his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Economics and Applied Economics at the University of Nottingham. Upon completion of his MSc dissertation he worked for the professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers with several big multinational clients, after which he took up a position at the Nottingham Business School as part of a cross-disciplinary team conducting a health services research evaluation of the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund schemes in the North Midlands. After completion of the project he worked briefly at Newcastle University, establishing a contingent valuation methodology for the valuation of both personal and public health initiatives for NHS England. His current research interests are aligned to the interaction between public health schemes in the community/primary care and demand for secondary care services.

Title of PhD: Modelling school-based interventions to increase physical activity levels in children and young people. Supervisors: Liddy Goyder, Hazel Squires


Cohort 2 (2017/18)

Naomi Gibbs Naomi Gibbs

Naomi's undergraduate degree was a BSc in Economics from the University of Manchester, graduating with the Manchester School Prize for Economics. Following this she worked in the third sector; initially working with refugees in Sheffield before moving to the British Red Cross facilitating leadership development and broader learning provision. She joined the University of Sheffield in 2015 as a Learning and Impact Associate on a national evaluation team for a Big Lottery Funded programme supporting individuals with multiple needs whilst mapping and influencing the systems that surround them. Multiple needs defined here as; substance misuse, homelessness, mental ill health and reoffending. In 2016 she received an NIHR studentship to study an MSc in Economics and Health Economics, a joint course delivered by ScHARR and the Department of Economics. Naomi's research interests are increasing the evidence base for alcohol policy effectiveness in LMICs, adaptability of policy decision models between countries, decision modelling as a way for key stakeholders to understand the system that surrounds the decision problem, how equity can be considered within economic decision models.

Title of PhD: Economic modelling of alcohol pricing policies in South Africa, with a focus on equity. Supervisors: Petra Meier, Colin Angus, Simon Dixon

Colette KearneyColette Kearney

Colette completed an undergraduate degree in Psychology at the University of Glasgow and a Masters of Medical Science in Human Nutrition at the University of Sheffield. Between studying and undertaking her PhD, she worked with children in the early years, teaching English as a Second Language. This role led to her interest in early years nutrition, an interest which she took forward into her Master’s degree by working with the Children’s Food Trust to evaluate their early years nutrition training for childminders. Upon completion of her Masters, she worked as a research assistant in ScHARR investigating methods to reduce the consumption of high energy dense snacks in pre-school children. Colette's research interests are within the fields of obesity prevention, childhood nutrition and public health economic modelling. She is particularly interested in methods to promote healthy eating in the early years and the impact this may have on long term health outcomes.

Title of PhD: The impact of grandparents on the diets and long term health outcomes of their grandchildren. Supervisors: Samantha Caton, Penny Breeze

Joseph Kwon Joseph Kwon

Joseph has completed an undergraduate BA degree in Economics at the University of Cambridge and an MSc degree in Health Economics at the University of York. His previous research interest was in measurement of health utilities for childhood and adolescent populations, having published a systematic review and meta-regression of childhood health utilities. 
For my PhD, I am focusing on preventive interventions to reduce frequency and severity of falls in community-dwelling elderly persons. I hope to build a public health economic model that incorporates capacity, costs and effectiveness of multi-component strategies for falls prevention, using Sheffield’s falls prevention programme as a case study.

Title of PhD: Discrete-event simulation of community-based multi-components falls prevention in the elderly: A case study in Sheffield. Supervisors: Tracey Young, Hazel Squires, Janet Harris

Sundus Mahdi Sundus Mahdi

Sundus completed an undergraduate degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Health Psychology at University College London. She has previously worked at Sheffield Children’s Hospital as a Research Project Manager where she managed an NIHR funded research project for the delivery of a study investigating the health status in children and young people with Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia. She also interned at Public Health England and worked mainly within the remit of work, worklessness and health. She also helped organise PHE national conferences where she  liaised with speakers and facilitated workshops, including “Everybody Active Every Day” and “Improving the Health and Wellbeing of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans People and Communities”. She worked collaboratively to develop a set of tools for businesses including a Return on Investment tool and a Health Needs Assessment tool, and contributed to writing and editing rapid reviews, conference reports and health promotion material. Before that, she took a Research Assistant position at Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust where she worked on a number of projects including a survey on improving access to NHS mental health services amongst Black Minority Ethnics in the Bradford District and an evaluation of a complex Stop Delirium! intervention for the prevention of delirium in care homes. She has volunteered at the Forced Migration Trauma Service, as an Assistant Psychologist, where she cared for the mental health and wellbeing of refugees escaping war-torn countries. Her role emphasised the importance of psychometric measures and audit to track patient recovery and improve service delivery. Her research interests are, behaviour change, weight gain prevention, childhood obesity, health policy.

Title of PhD: Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of sugar-reduction population-level interventions and policies. Supervisors: Jim Chilcott, Nicola Buckland

Nicolas SilvaNicolas Silva Illanes

My PhD focuses in understanding the socioeconomic inequalities of life expectancy and adult mortality in Chile in the last decade.
Nicolas graduated as a physician and practised as a general practitioner for one year before starting graduate studies. He studied a Master in Public Policy and a Master in Public Health at the University of Chile. After completing that training he studied Biostatistics at the same University. He has received further training in Econometrics and Decision Modelling during recent years. Prior to joining ScHARR, he worked as a researcher and lecturer in the School of Public Health in the University of Chile. During this period he was involved in several research and consulting projects covering many topics including Analysis of socioeconomic inequalities on the incidence of chronic diseases in Chile using longitudinal data; Cost effectiveness analysis of colorectal cancer in Chile; Analysis of cost of disease in Chile using the System of Health Account methodology; The role of fiscal policy in the improvement of diets and prevention of non communicable diseases in Chile: impact evaluation and modelling. Nicolas's research interests are health inequalities, cancer survival and cancer care policies, pharmaceutical policies.

Title of PhD: Analysis of socioeconomic inequalities in adult life expectancy in Chile. Supervisors: Aki Tsuchiya, Mónica Hernández Alava


Cohort 3 (2018/19)

Jennifer Boyd Jennifer Boyd

Jennifer studied Psychology as an undergraduate at the University of Edinburgh and went on to complete an MSc in Health Psychology at the University of St Andrews. She previously worked as a Research Assistant at Ninewells Hospital Dundee and more recently for NHS Fife. Her research interests include the application of public health policy/large scale interventions to improve health behaviours associated with the development of chronic conditions and the impact of inequality. During the Wellcome DTC programme she hopes to develop skills in modelling and simulation to apply these techniques to her areas of interest.                                                         

Amy Chang Amy Chang

Amy obtained her BSc in Pharmacy and MSc in Clinical Pharmacy both at the National Taiwan University. She currently works as a Research Assistant at the School of Pharmacy, National Taiwan University, where she is in charge of model adaption for drug economic evaluation projects as well as model construction for the Taiwan EQ-5D-5L tariff derivation study. She has also conducted health care utilisation studies in oncology and maternal health using claims and survey database. Her research interests include health economics, disease modelling and related research methods

Artur Kowalski Artur Kowalski

Artur has studied a variety of aspects of economics, mathematics, and statistics during his time at the Universities of Lancaster, British Columbia and St. Gallen. During his BSc and MSc in Economics, he has developed a deep interest in mathematical modelling and statistical examination of those models. Artur was led to the Wellcome Trust Ph.D. program by his desire to develop his knowledge of those methods by applying them to the study of the impact of recreational drug use and dependence on society and the policy responses to these phenomena.

Paul Schneider Paul Schneider

Paul is an MD from Germany. During his medical studies, he became interested in health service research and completed his dissertation on staffing and the quality of care in hospitals. After graduation, he went to Maastricht in the Netherlands, to do a research master’s in health sciences, with a specialization in Health Technology Assessment. He also worked on a project in the field of digital epidemiology. Paul’s research interests are in learning health care systems and the use of real world data to continuously inform decision making.

Tazeen Tahsina Tazeen Tahsina

Tazeen works as a Senior Research Investigator at the Maternal and Child Health Division of ICDD,B in Bangladesh. Tazeen has a BSc and MSc in Economics and substantial experience in the area of public health research. She has been involved in large community based research trials as well as development and costing of national strategies and action plans related to adolescent, maternal, newborn and child health. She is particularly interested in measurement and validation of indicators and equity in health services.


Wellcome Trust Induction September 2018 - Cohort 3 Meets Cohort 1 & 2

       Wellcome Trust 2018 Induction