PhD Studentship: Brain Ageing in Schizophrenia and as a Marker of Mental and Physical Well-being (University of Bath)

Closing Date
25 Nov 2019
£15,104 p.a. in living costs (current rates), travel grant (£300 pa), plus home tuition fees and research training support.

The University of Bath (Department of Psychology) is pleased to offer a PhD project starting in October 2020, supervised by Dr Esther Walton (Bath), Dr Doretta Caramaschi (University of Bristol), Dr Tom Freeman (Bath) and Prof Stan Zammit (Cardiff University). This project is in competition for funding from the ‘GW4 BioMed MRC Doctoral Training Partnership’ for entry in October 2020. 


Individuals with schizophrenia have a reduced life expectancy of up to 15 years. However, it is not well understood: i) whether this is driven by poor physical health or also through accelerated mental ageing; and ii) which genetic and modifiable lifestyle factors influence this acceleration.    


This project focusses on healthy mental ageing in the general population and in individuals with schizophrenia. We will: 

  1. investigate how brain age links to a large number of phenotypes in the general population;
  2. shed light into the genetic architecture of brain ageing;
  3. identify how schizophrenia and linked modifiable lifestyle factors impact accelerated brain ageing. 


Studies 1 and 2 will be based on data from UK Biobank. We will derive a brain age measure and test associations with phenotypes in UK Biobank. This will allow us to identify how brain ageing associates with a wide range of traits, including physical health (e.g. immune and cardiometabolic traits). Furthermore, we will carry out a genome-wide association analysis to investigate the genetic architecture of brain ageing.    

Study 3: To generate the largest study of brain ageing in schizophrenia, data will be analysed from the ENIGMA Schizophrenia Working Group. We will investigate brain age differences between patients and controls and how lifestyle factors (e.g., cannabis use, smoking, BMI) might affect these differences. 


All three studies are highly innovative due to the interdisciplinary character, combining neuroscience, genetics and population health. Findings will have important implications with respect to healthy mental ageing across populations and in individuals with schizophrenia. 

Training opportunities:

The successful applicant will be supervised by internationally recognised researchers in the field. The student will receive advanced training in genetic and epidemiological analyses (Bristol) and high-throughput neuroimaging computational data (training in Rotterdam and Boston). The student will also be encouraged to present at international conferences.  

Relevant Subject Areas 

Medical / Clinical Science

Neuroscience / Neurology

Psychology & Psychiatry

Computer Science


Public Health & Epidemiology


Data Analysis


For more information and to apply, please click here. 

Further Information


Applications are invited from excellent candidates with a First (1st) or Upper Second Class (2.1) degree and/or Master’s level and/or equivalent professional practice in neuroscience, genetics, computer science, or related subjects. Relevant research experience and knowledge of R would be advantageous.

IMPORTANT: In order to apply for this project, you should apply using the DTP’s online application form:

More information on the application process may be found here: 


You do NOT need to apply to the University of Bath at this stage – only those applicants who are successful in obtaining an offer of funding from the DTP will be required to submit an application to study at Bath. 

Contact Details

Informal enquiries about this studentship can be directed to Dr Walton at: