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Genetic and environmental predictors of long-term outcomes in First Episode Psychosis

Start date

1st February 2024


1 fully funded 3-year PhD studentship, Full-Time, Social, Genetic & Developmental Psychiatry Centre (SGDP), IoPPN


A fully funded PhD opportunity for home students is available at the Social, Genetic & Developmental Psychiatry Centre (SGDP), Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IOPPN). The project will combine genetic, epidemiological, and clinical data in patients with a first episode of psychosis to predict long term outcomes. Data collection and analysis will be carried out in collaboration with colleagues who work in the Genetics and Psychosis (GAP) and EUGEI studies. The student will be co-supervised by two supervisors to develop diverse skills and expertise. Dr Vassos has extensive experience in psychiatric and statistical genetics and prediction modelling and will provide supervision in the analysis plan. Professor Murray, a world leading researcher in psychosis, will ensure access to the clinical data for this project, and will support the student to develop a holistic understanding of the pathogenesis of psychosis and of the translational potentials of the findings.


Candidates should be interested in understanding and researching factors that influence the illness progress in people who develop psychosis. Ultimately, the candidate will contribute to developing prediction tools with potential clinical utility. We will consider applicants from a range of scientific disciplines holding a BSc, MBBS, or MSc. Desirable skills include clinical experience or data analysis, coding, and use of statistical tools. We seek an enthusiastic candidate who is keen to learn and we will support training on other essential skills for the project.

Project (brief) summary:  

The aim of this project will be to identify predictors of long-term outcomes in first episode psychosis. These will include final diagnosis (schizophrenia or affective psychosis), severity of illness, number of hospitalisations, longitudinal changes in socioeconomic characteristics, employment, type of dwelling, deteriorating physical health etc. Risk factors to be examined include polygenic scores and different environmental exposures, their interaction and correlation. The end point of this project is to improve our understanding of prognostic factors early in the course of psychosis and to identify those who require the most intensive intervention.

The student will have direct access to the two largest First Episode Psychosis samples in the UK (GAP and EUGEI), and additional cohorts. Baseline data, including sociodemographic characteristics, environmental risk factors and genome-wide genotyping is already available. The student will extract additional outcome measures, as presented in the study aim, over a longer follow-up period from electronic records linking study participants with the Biomedical Research Centre Case Register Interactive Search (CRIS) system and will learn to calculate and utilise polygenic scores. The successful candidate will participate with others in gathering further information concerning the subjects. Through the supervisors’ collaborations, the student will have the opportunity to expand or replicate findings and perform secondary analyses using larger international datasets pooled together in the FEP-GEN consortium which Dr Vassos is co-leading.


Dr Evangelos Vassos & Sir Robin Murray (co-supervisors)

Entry requirements

Applicants should have (or be expected to obtain) a Bachelors degree with 2:1 honours (or Overseas equivalent). A 2:2 degree may be considered only where applicants also offer a Masters with Merit.

Award types and eligibility

Students will be fully funded for three years full time, to include home tuition fees (studentship not available to Overseas applicants), annual stipend and some research and travel costs. Overseas applicants may apply but will need to cover the difference in fees.

To be treated as a Home student, candidates must meet one of the following criteria:

  • A UK national (meeting residency requirements)
  • Settled status
  • Pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements)
  • Indefinite leave to remain or enter

Further information

About the IoPPN (

Studying at the IoPPN (

MSc programmes at the IoPPN (link to

Research degrees at the IoPPN (link to

More information on the SGDP department (

How to apply

Applicants must complete and submit an online admissions application, via the admissions portal by midnight (23:59 GMT) on Monday 13th November 2023.

On the ‘Choosing a programme’ page, please select Social Genetic & Developmental Psychiatry Research MPhil/PhD (Full-time).

In your application, you will be asked to include:

  • Academic Transcripts – where applicable, academic transcripts must be submitted with the online admissions application
  • Details of your qualifications (you will need to attach copies)
  • Details of previous employment - please include your CV
  • A personal statement describing your interests and why you wish to apply for this project. Please include this as an attachment rather than using the text box.
  • Academic References – all admissions applications require one supporting reference. If the applicant is relying on thier referees to submit a reference directly to the College after they have submitted thier admissions application, then the applicant must ensure that (1) their chosen referee is made aware of the funding deadline (i.e. 7 days from application deadline) and (2) that the reference needs to be sent from an institutional email address.

In the Funding section, please tick box 5 and include the following reference: EVRM-IoPPN-SGDP-24

Please note there is no need to complete the Research Proposal section in your application as the project has already been set. You are welcome to email Dr Evangelos Vassos ( more information regarding the project and studentship.

If you have any queries regarding the application process, please contact the Education support team at

References must be received by the deadline for the applicant to be eligible. Only shortlisted applicants will be contacted.

Closing date

Monday 13th November 2023


TBC - second half of November 2023


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