The studentship is offered on a full-time basis to Home/EU students over 3 years*. It will cover tuition fees and includes a £19,800 annual stipend and bench fees/consumables of £12,000 per annum**. The scholarship is made possible thanks to a generous donation from Pukka Herbs UK.

Herbal teas are widely used in the UK and across Europe but the effects of such products are often unknown. While there has been some research carried out on the efficacy of medicinal plants, little research has been carried out on their inherent biological mechanisms.

This 3-year PhD programme will focus on analysing selected medicinal plant preparations. Different biological and chemical analytical techniques will be used depending on the information sought. The studentship will focus on research which measures the potential effect of plant compounds on mitochondrial activity and microvesicle metabolism. Through the evaluation of different herbal compounds we will determine the most bioactive combinations. The PhD study will provide important new knowledge about how herbal compounds activate cellular elements leading to increases in mitochondrial health and wellbeing.

Findings will be disseminated through academic journals and through presentations at national and international conferences. The findings will have an educational impact, in that buyers and users of these medicines will have a better understanding of the biological mechanisms that may be responsible for the therapeutic effects of these plants.

The student will receive training in relevant techniques/technologies and gain expertise in a number of key project planning and analytical research and subject specific skills. The student will also take part in the University Graduate School and School of Life Sciences Doctoral Research Development Programme (DRDP) including transferable skills (eg presentation skills, scientific writing and employability skills) which aid in their future career progression. The student will also be encouraged to join relevant learned societies, which provide excellent support for students in terms of training opportunities and meetings to disseminate and publish their research.

Research in the School of Life Sciences encompasses a wide range of disciplines from pure to applied science, integrating areas from structural biology, molecular genetics, applied microbiology and biotechnology at one extreme to human performance, Chinese medicine, public health nutrition and wellbeing at the other.

Research is undertaken in the University of Westminster's Cavendish site's laboratories using state-of-the-art instrumentation, and in the University Polyclinic. Experienced and research-active staff in the School work in close collaboration with bio-industry, the NHS, research institutions within the UK, Europe, the USA and China.

The student is expected to sign over the intellectual property rights to the donor upon accepting the PhD studentship placement.

Prospective candidates wishing to informally discuss an application should contact Prof. Jimmy Bell, [email protected], Dr Anthony Booker, [email protected], or Dr Emanuela Volpi, [email protected].

Entry requirements

Eligible candidates will hold at least an upper second class honours degree and preferably a Master’s degree. Candidates whose secondary level education has not been conducted in the medium of English should also demonstrate evidence of appropriate English language proficiency, normally defined as 6.5 in IELTS (with not less than 6.0 in any of the individual elements).

Read more about our entry requirements.

How to apply

The closing date for applications is 5pm on 18 November 2019. Interviews will be held on 2 December 2019.

Applications should be made to programme: Molecular Biology, Biophysics and Biochemistry (P052439) and you should clearly state that you are applying for this Studentship – Pukka Herbs Studentship.

Apply through UCAS


* Minimum full time enrolment before submission is 33 months.

** Fee waivers are in place for the three year studentship. Following that there is a six month no fee period for writing up. Should a researcher not have submitted by the end of the no fee period then a £1,500 fee is applicable.