PhD studentship Risk and resilience mechanisms for emotional and cognitive dysfunction across the life course: The role of early experiences and their interplay with genetic factors

Supervisor:  Dr Darya Gaysina (School of Psychology, University of Sussex)

Emotional problems (i.e., depression and anxiety) represent an issue of significant social, clinical and policy concern, with evidence highlighting increasing rates of emotional problems internationally. However,  not all who experience emotional problems in early life will continue on this trajectory later in life, while others will experience on-going and chronic problems, with debilitating long-term mental and physical health outcomes. Identifying risk and resilience factors and understanding mechanisms by which these factors influence emotional problems over time has important implications for future intervention and prevention efforts. A growing body of evidence suggests that early adverse experiences (in both pre- and postnatal periods) are associated with negative developmental outcomes (including emotional problems) in childhood and adolescence. However, very few studies have focused on long-term, chronic mental health outcomes linked to early adverse experiences that can be moderated by genetic factors.

The proposed PhD project aims to investigate the role of early experiences and their interplay with genetic factors, in cognitive and emotional health and illness across the life course using data from the British 1946 birth cohort (the oldest birth cohort in the UK;

A successful PhD student will be able to develop advanced research skills including statistical analysis of complex longitudinal and genetic data. 

Applications should be made by Friday 17thJanuary 2014.

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The award of the studentship will be based on a competitive process. If awarded, it would be a full-time studentship (funded for a duration of three years) covering tuition fee, and a maintenance allowance. The maintenance allowance is currently £13,726 per annum. There is an expectation to contribute to teaching on a paid basis.

Eligibility requirements for potential candidates:

  • This award will only pay fees at the Home/EU rate. Candidates may not be eligible for the full award if they do not meet UK residency requirements. For full details of eligibility see Annex 1: Residential guidelines at
  • Candidates must have, or expect to obtain, a First or a high Upper Second Class Honours undergraduate degree, or equivalent qualification, and/or a Master’s degree in Psychology or a related discipline.

Guidance for applicants:

Candidates should provide:

  • A research statement that briefly outlines our current state of knowledge, hypotheses that could be addressed, and an outline of potential methods. Your answer should not exceed 2 pages including references, be set at minimum 10 font type with margins a minimum of 1cm.
  • A teaching-related statement that addresses the normal expectation that you contribute to teaching of statistics and research methods (up to 300 words).
  • A current transcript with full details of performance on all completed courses.

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