Co-morbidity in people living with and beyond cancer

Institute of Population Health Sciences, Barts & The London School of Medicine & Dentistry. Queen Mary University of London

Supervisors names and email addresses:
1) Professor Steph Taylor 
2) Dr Dayem Ullah
3) Professor Claude Chelala,

Funding Status:
Directly Funded Project (UK and EU Students Only)
Stipend: £17,803

Application Deadline: 5 January 2020

Interview date: 28 January 2020

3 years, full time

Project Description;

Around 2.5 million people in the UK are currently living with and beyond cancer (sometimes referred to as “cancer survivors”) and this number will rise to 4 million by 2020. Many of these people will experience ongoing physical or psychological sequelae as a result of their original cancer diagnosis or its treatment. In effect, for many, cancer survivorship has become a long term condition (LTC).

Multimorbidity, the coexistence of LTCs, is an increasing challenge for health services. Commonly defined as the presence of two or more long term conditions, multimorbidity is associated with increased mortality, reduced functional status and increased use of inpatient and outpatient care. The prevalence of multimorbidity increases with age: over 40% of those aged 70 to 74 years have three or more disorders; at 85 years’ old around 30% have five or more LTCs. Under the age of 85 multimorbidity is strongly associated with deprivation. Epidemiological work from the UK suggests that more than half the people with multimorbidity are actually under 65 and that those from relatively socioeconomically deprived areas are at increased risk. Young and middle-aged adults in the most deprived areas have the same prevalence of multimorbidity as those around 10–15 years older in the most affluent areas.

This quantitative research doctorate will explore multimorbidity in those living with and beyond cancer using the Discovery database: a collaboration between the boroughs of Newham, Tower Hamlets, City and Hackney and Waltham Forest and the Homerton and Barts NHS Trusts, covering 200 GP practices and a population of 1.3 million. It will explore: patterns of co-morbidity in those living with and beyond cancer in East London with particular reference to deprivation and ethnicity, and patterns of health care resource use amongst this population.
Overall the project will contribute to our understanding about the impact of cancer survivorship and comorbidity on individuals and health services and ways adverse impacts might be mitigated.

Project-specific skills and experience required:

This is a quantitative doctorate so masters-level training in statistics and epidemiology is essential.

Experience of working with primary or secondary care databases would be an advantage.

All candidates should hold a Master’s qualification (or complete their Master’s by September 2020) in an appropriate discipline and have a minimum of a 2:1 or equivalent in their first degree. Applicants should preferably have knowledge of the UK health and care system. All applicants are required to have excellent written and verbal communication skills. They should also be willing to work collaboratively in multi-disciplinary and multi-professional teams.

Enquiries email name and address:

Professor Steph Taylor (Professor in Public Health and Primary Care) 

Training opportunities
PhD students will be entitled to the full range of PhD training opportunities at their host institution. In addition, all PhD students will benefit from the training provided by the NIHR ARC North Thames Academy (The Academy). The Academy brings together PhD students from across ARC North Thames, to create a community of students training in applied health research. The Academy works alongside each host institution’s graduate training programme to equip students with the skills needed to work at the interface of academia and health services.

Our doctoral programme focuses on practical aspects of applied health research, such as the skills required to undertake research in health care and public health settings, to engage patients and the public in research, and to navigate relevant ethical and research governance approval systems. In addition, we aim to provide students with an understanding of how their work fits into current NHS structures and applied public health research environments. PhD students will be expected to attend and present at scientific meetings aimed at disseminating the findings of ARC research.

Publication and wider dissemination:
It is expected that results of the PhD research will be publishable in good quality, peer-reviewed academic journals and communicated at conferences. The research would also be expected to generate outputs tailored to applied health research, public health practitioner, and policy-making audiences.

Candidates should hold a Master’s qualification in a relevant discipline (or complete their Master’s by September 2020) and have a minimum of a 2:1 or equivalent in their first degree. Applicants should preferably have knowledge of the UK health and care system. All applicants require excellent written and verbal communication skills and should be willing to work collaboratively in multi-disciplinary and multi-professional teams.
Due to funding restrictions, applicants must be UK/EU nationals. Please refer to UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) for the criteria.

How to apply
If you have queries about potential projects or would like to discuss these in more detail, please contact the appropriate supervisors by email. In case of any difficulties in making contact, please email 

Your application should consist of:

  • A CV (to include qualifications, work experience, publications, presentations and prizes) plus contact details of two academic referees (references will be taken up for all shortlisted candidates).
  • A personal statement (300 words) describing your suitability for the proposed project including how your research experience, skills and interests relate to the topic.
  • A 1-page proposal of how you would develop the PhD project that you are applying for.

Please send your application to