The Cambridge Centre for AI in Medicine is a multi-disciplinary centre established by the University of Cambridge in 2020 to develop pioneering AI machine learning (ML) technologies that will transform biomedical science, medicine and healthcare.
With five fully funded PhD studentships available, this is our call to the best and brightest minds to join us in pushing back the frontiers of healthcare-focused ML and bioscience. Please read this advert carefully and note the stages of the process before taking any action.
As an elite group nested in a world-class university, CCAIM represents an extraordinary opportunity for PhD students to make a big impact in a red-hot field. If you fit our criteria, we will encourage you to apply – wherever you are in the world.
What is the Cambridge Centre for AI in Medicine?
CCAIM is a cross-disciplinary group of leading University of Cambridge scientists and clinicians.
We are not here to apply existing technology to old problems – important though that is. Instead, we are dedicated to developing the healthcare-focused ML technology of the future. This is a challenge that requires independent-minded, big-picture thinkers; students who can’t even see a box without thinking outside of it.
The centre’s Director is one of the world’s leading names in ML, Mihaela van der Schaar, John Humphrey Plummer Professor of Machine Learning, AI and Medicine at the University of Cambridge. Professor van der Schaar also heads up the van der Schaar Laboratory, one of the most prolific and high-impact ML groups in the world (with over 30 papers accepted at the four key AI/ML conferences – AISTATS, ICLR, ICML and NeurIPS – in the last year alone.)
The centre’s Co-Director is researcher-clinician Andres Floto, Professor of Respiratory Biology at the University of Cambridge, a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator, and Research Director of the Cambridge Centre for Lung Infection at Papworth Hospital. The CCAIM faculty also includes Dr Sarah Teichmann, Head of Cellular Genetics at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and founder and principal leader of the Human Cell Atlas international consortium.
What makes CCAIM unique?
Our faculty of leading Cambridge scientists and clinicians combine the power of world-leading ML with cutting-edge research in engineering, mathematics, computer science, genetics, computational biology, biostatistics, clinical research, healthcare policy and more. Our faculty is drawn from across the University of Cambridge (including its affiliated hospitals), and from the Wellcome Sanger Institute in Cambridge. Familiarise yourself with the CCAIM team.
Our work is highly multi-disciplinary, our projects targeted and practical. The next-level ML technology and bioscience originating at the centre will make the world a better place through its impact on medicine and healthcare.
Who are we looking for?
We are seeking the brightest minds in the world. Competition for these studentships will be fierce, so at the very least you should hold (or be predicted to achieve) the equivalent of a first-class undergraduate degree with honours at a world-class academic institution.
We are looking for two distinct types of candidates, both requiring a very particular set of skills:
1. Candidates with prodigious quantitative skills, developed during a degree in a quantitative subject such as engineering, computer science, mathematics. Your mathematics must be excellent, of course, with experience in ML a distinct plus. As such, you will be pushing to achieve breakthroughs in machine learning, which will ultimately enable cascading breakthroughs in bioscience and healthcare.
2. Candidates with exceptional prowess in bioscience – with a strong quantitative aspect – developed during a degree in a subject such as biophysics, microbiology, cell or molecular biology, computational biology, or genetics. As such, you will be pushing to achieve breakthroughs in bioscience and healthcare, powered by the world’s most advanced, bespoke ML methods.
To be blunt, we are not looking for candidates who are pretty good in both areas, but for excellence in one or the other. Your supervisors will work with you, providing private tuition customised to develop the additional skills that you need while rapidly building on your strengths.
Our special sauce: co-supervision
One thing that sets these PhD studentships apart from those of many other elite institutions is co-supervision.
You will have not one but two dedicated supervisors, drawn from different disciplines, with the additional possibility of input from industry. As you may appreciate, true co-supervision is a luxury in PhD studentships, but it is foundational to our ways of thinking and working.
Through receiving supervision from the varied experts within CCAIM, our students will strengthen the connective tissue between the fields of ML, bioscience and medicine. Through five new PhD studentships being offered each year, we will a grow a unique network of interdisciplinary excellence: the future leaders in AI for medicine.
Your future prospects
Employers in industry and academia will know that CCAIM attracts and develops only the brightest stars in their fields. When you graduate, you will be able to write your own ticket. Alumni of the van der Schaar Lab, for example, have become leaders in their fields, some continuing to full professorships and others joining top private-sector teams including Google, Intel and Apple.
These studentships are fully funded for four years, through the generous support of our industry partners, AstraZeneca and GSK. This funding covers UK/international University of Cambridge fees in addition to living costs/stipend.
Application process – please read carefully
Each of these studentships will be based in one of several University of Cambridge schools – the School of Clinical Medicine, School of Physical Sciences, School of Technology, School of Biological Sciences, School of Humanities and Social Sciences – or the Wellcome Sanger Institute in Cambridge (PhD studentships at the Sanger will be administered through the University of Cambridge).
This is a rolling application process, and when the five PhD studentships are allocated and confirmed, recruitment will close. To make an initial application to the centre, please first fill out the form below someone from the centre will contact you in due course. We will arrange interviews with selected candidates. After interviews, we will make our final choices and then we will make conditional offers of funding to those successful candidates.
These offers of funding are conditional on the candidate being officially accepted as an eligible PhD candidate by the University of Cambridge. In practical terms, this means that after our conditional offers are made, those successful candidates will then be asked to apply via the formal University of Cambridge system, via this advert on the university jobs board: http://www.jobs.cam.ac.uk/job/28018/. (For a description of that formal application process, which will go go through the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, see: https://www.postgraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/directory/maampdmtp/apply.) The absolute deadline for such a formal application is 30 June 2021.
To be clear, you can make a formal application at any time, paying the required £70. But we would prefer it if you would express your interest first through the CCAIM website, using the form below. We will inform you later in the process if you subsequently need to make a formal application. Good luck!
Please note, the University of Cambridge’s data processing/protection procedure is detailed here.