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Mechanics of Life Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarship Programme

About the Mechanics of Life Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarship Programme

There is rapidly mounting evidence that mechanical force impacts a large variety of biological functions including motility, differentiation, infection, and gene expression. Yet, the role of physical perturbations such as force in regulating human physiology is poorly understood. The Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarship Programme 'Mechanics of Life' aims to train future research leaders to develop new techniques, methodologies and analytical tools required to resolve outstanding challenges underpinning Mechanobiology across a broad range of biological themes. 

The programme builds upon current research and supervisory strengths at King’s College London, encompassing three faculties and eight Departments, and is a hub of postgraduate training in Mechanobiology in the UK. Through a 3.5-year PhD project, dedicated workshops and seminar series, and possibilities to carry out international research placements in partner institutions, students will be trained to work confidently and seamlessly across the Physical Sciences-Biology interface to revolutionise the life sciences with breakthrough understanding, disruptive technologies and ambitious innovation.

Who is it for?

The Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarship Programme ‘Understanding the Mechanics of Life' is aimed at students with a degree either in the physical sciences (i.e. physicists, chemists, mathematicians, materials scientists, engineers, computer scientists) or in the biological sciences (i.e. biologists, biochemists, physicians) who show a deep interest in unlocking the complexity and challenges of mechanobiology.

We are interested in recruiting an academically excellent cohort, with complementary skills, curiosity, creativity, and aptitude to enthusiastically respond to challenging problems.

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Find out more about a range of available projects.

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The programme organises regular seminars and masterclasses to support students.

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How to apply

Read about how to apply for the Mechanics of Life programme.



Contact us

For all general enquiries





Management team

  • Professor Sergi Garcia-Manyes, Director
  • Dr Katelyn Spillane, Co-Director
  • Professor Juan Martin-Serrano
  • Professor Jody Rosenblatt
  • Professor Malcolm Irving







Students who join the programme will spend the first several weeks at King’s talking to potential supervisors, meeting with research groups, and touring research facilities before selecting a PhD project. Students will have an academic advisor to help them make informed project selections.

Each student will train in more than one specific discipline in their individual projects, and will be supported by two academic supervisors with complementary expertise.


Doctoral scholarship training

The programme organises a regular seminar called Force Talks with world leaders in Mechanobiology, as well as Masterclasses in Mechanobiology with academics from King's. In these classes students are shown techniques that they will be able utilise in their lab work.

The Centre for Doctoral Studies offers:
Doctoral Essentials: a series of training courses aimed at helping students immerse into the PhD lifestyle, with each course focusing on a particular aspect of the PhD process
Career & Employability: do you know what will be your next step after your PhD? This series of training sessions will give you plenty of tips to prepare your future transition beyond the PhD
Personal Effectiveness: would you like to learn about being calm and working effectively under pressure? This series will prepare you to cope with those critical moments of your PhD work Find out more on the Centre for Doctoral Studies website.

The Health Sciences Doctoral Training Centre offers:
Molecular Basis of Disease: this theme concentrates on increasing our understanding of the basis of human disease
Imaging, Computational and Technological Approaches to Health: this theme explores research areas including clinical and molecular imaging, computational modelling, "big data" research and high throughput technologies
Find out more on the Health Sciences Doctoral Training Centre website.

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Force Talks

Force Talks is a new seminar series hosted at King's College London. Hosted by the Leverhulme Mechanics of Life DSP, the talks welcome world leaders in mechanobiology.

Image advertising the Force Talks seminar series


Mechanobiology Masterclasses

Experts from King's College London regularly present masterclasses on mechanobiology techniques for the DSP cohort. In this video, Dr Eileen Gentleman from the Centre for Craniofacial & Regenerative Biology delivers a masterclass entitled 'The impact of intrinsic mechanical cues on stem cells'.



How to apply

The Mechanics of Life Doctoral Scholarship Programme has fully funded PhD positions available to students with physical or biological sciences backgrounds who are interested in tackling outstanding questions in biology from a distinctly mechanical perspective.

Recruitment for the October 2023 Intake is currently open.



Students on the Mechanics of Life Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarship Programme study a wide variety of research areas and themes.

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