Institution / Ulster University Coleraine
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Biomedical Sciences - Research


A centre of excellence conducting pioneering research into human degenerative diseases. Our state of the art research environment is world leading.


Study Biomedical Sciences at Ulster University in the United Kingdom.

Biomedical Science at Ulster University has an outstanding track record of success in research. Having obtained the highest possible rating in RAE1996, and in 2001, we were again ranked first place in terms of research power in RAE2008. In REF2014, we were judged to be among the top five universities in terms of research power (out of 92 UK submissions), with 100% of our research environment awarded the four-star rating.

All postgraduate students become members of the Biomedical Sciences Research Institute (BMSRI) and all research is managed by the BMSRI Director. The mission of the BMSRI is to conduct pioneering strategically focused research into personalised nutrition & medicine and the causes, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease including cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, osteoporosis and visual deterioration.

The University welcomes applicants interested in researching cancer, stem cells, melanoma, vision, blindness, food and nutrition, vitamins, stratified medicine, personalised medicine, pharmacy, drug delivery, CRISPr, gene therapy, cardiology, biomarkers, diabetes, drug discovery, Alzheimer's Disease, cystic fibrosis.


The BMSRI is composed of staff and students from the Biomedical Sciences School and the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. It is the largest Research Institute within Ulster University and supervision for postgraduate degrees is available in all of the research areas listed below. Further details of projects can be obtained from Professor Tara Moore, Director of the BMSRI, or from the Faculty of Life & Health Sciences Research Graduate School website.

The activities of the BMSRI are currently organised within distinct Recognised Research Groups (RRGs):

Food & Health (through the Northern Ireland Centre for Food & Health – NICHE);

Genomic Medicine,

Pharmaceutical Science & Practice;

Precision Medicine;

Vision Science.

At Ulster University’s Coleraine campus, biomedical sciences research is undertaken in our Centre of Molecular Biosciences and our Saad Centre for Pharmacy and Diabetes. Clinical translational research is also undertaken at our award winning Clinical Translational Research & Innovation Centre (C-TRIC) at the Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry/Londonderry, and at our Wellcome Clinical Research Facility at the Belfast City Hospital (partnership between Ulster University, Queen’s University Belfast and Belfast City Hospital).

Multi-disciplinary collaboration between the RRGs is strongly encouraged and is widespread with research into, for instance, anti-diabetic and anti-oncogenic aspects of nutrition, the genomics of vitamin receptors and cancer, imaging of neo-vascularisation, and the interactions among diet, diabetes, dementia, vision, hypertension and vascular disease. In practice, the RRGs collaborate both internally and internationally on a range of prioritised multi-disciplinary themes in: ageing, drug discovery, personalised medicine and genomic medicine. The BMSRI has strong collaborations with regional and global pharmaceutical and diagnostics companies and many of our graduates and postgraduates are employed in the pharma, diagnostics and health care sectors.

Entry requirements

Entry conditions

We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements. For general entrance requirements go to:

Entry Requirements

You will need to hold a First of Upper Second Class Honours degree (or equivalent) in an area relevant to your chosen project to be able to apply.

If you have obtained an undergraduate degree from a non-UK institution, we can advise you on how it compares to the UK system.

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants

The minimum requirement for research degree programmes is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. This is the only acceptable certificate for those requiring to obtain a Tier 4 visa.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.



As a full time student, the expectation is that you will work on your project on a daily basis, either on or off campus as agreed with your supervisor. You will be entitled to 40 days holiday per annum.

Part time students are expected to meet with their supervisors on a regular basis, most usually this would be monthly but this is dependent on the project area.

Careers or further progression

Career options

Although academia is considered to be the most obvious path for any PhD holder, with around two thirds of our graduates remaining in the Higher Education or Research sectors, the degree also paves way for a career in industries centred on research and innovation.

PhD graduates are recognised by employers to hold valuable transferrable skills, as the nature of the degree trains candidates in creativity, critical inquiry, problem solving, negotiation skills, professionalism and confidence.

The most recent Ulster survey of PhD graduates found that 92% had secured employment within the first year since graduation (HESA Destination of Leavers Survey 2015).

Further enquiries

Professor Tara Moore Director of Biomedical Sciences Research Institute
Tel: +44 (0)28 70124577 Fax: +44 (0)28 70123023

Research areas

Research facilities and groups

The BMSRI offers a state-of-the-art research environment for high profile researchers to undertake internationally agenda-setting research in strategically prioritised areas of biomedicine. This research environment earned Biomedical Sciences at Ulster a No. 1 ranking in RAE2008, and was again rated as 100% “world-leading” in REF2014.

Our research is carried out in well-equipped laboratories allowing the latest methods to be applied to individual projects. Our entire infrastructure is managed as Core Facility Units with equipment and laboratories dedicated to: advanced molecular bioimaging/microscopy, bioinformatics and computational biology, cell biology, chemical analysis, genomics, proteomics/ metabolomics (including Mass Spectrometry & NMR analysis), transgenics, physiology and pharmacology. The BMSRI research infrastructure also includes centralised resources for: clinical research & human intervention studies/ trials; the use and storage of mammalian cells and tissues; and in vivo studies in animal models that replicate human disease.

The BMSRI uses its equipment, specialist laboratories, infrastructure and internationally recognised biomedical expertise to offer clinical & translational services to academic researchers and business. We routinely engage in collaborative research with some of the world’s leading pharmaceutical and biomedical companies, and through the support of Ulster’s Office of Innovation, the University has established a track record of success in the commercialization of its research outcomes.

At C-TRIC, clinicians, academics and businesses in the life and health sector can collaborate to facilitate the research, development and launch of innovative health technologies, medical devices and therapeutics. In addition to high-spec capabilities such as FLOW cytometry and tissue culture, C-TRIC’s hospital location also permits direct access to NHS diagnostic laboratories and Clinical Research Nurses, and its on-site office of the Western Trust’s Research and Development department provides access to expertise in research governance and healthcare economics.

The expansion of biomedical research during the last 10 years and more has led to the construction of the £14.5M Centre for Molecular Biosciences (CMB) at the Coleraine campus. This expansion in research infrastructure later led to the creation of a number of “virtual” centres of excellence which are housed within the CMB building, i.e., the Centre for Functional Genomics, the FEI Centre for Advanced Bioimaging, and the Centre for Nutrition & Bone Health, whose overall aim is to develop a new “all-Ireland” expert research capability focused on nutrition and bone health, particularly targeted at identifying strategies to prevent osteoporosis.

The SAAD Centre for Pharmacy and Diabetes provides contemporary and state-of-the-art facilities to support our diabetes and metabolomics research activities, as well as facilities for mass spectrometric and NMR analysis. This building also provides infrastructural support for our newly launched pharmacy/pharmaceutical sciences courses and associated research activities. These include: the formulation and production of antimicrobials for pharmaceutical applications; health promotion in community pharmacies; and the discovery and development of novel therapeutics such as anti-cancer agents, luminescent and nanoparticle sensors, bioimaging, photo/sono-dynamic therapy, and polymeric and nanoparticle drug delivery systems.

Autumn 2013 saw the launch of an £11.5 million collaborative project between the BMSRI, C-TRIC and the Western Health and Social Care Trust. The Stratified Medicine Research Group, located at C-TRIC, aims to identify how subtle differences in measured biomarkers or medical images can be used to divide patients into groups based on their risk of developing specific diseases or their response to particular therapies. Research focuses on degenerative diseases of ageing with shared genetic, lifestyle and dietary determinants, including hypertension, diabetes, inflammatory disease, mental health, cancer and eye disease.

Taken together, these facilities make Ulster University one of the UK’s leading personalised or precision medicine research centres.

Enrolment and start dates

Start Date: September 2017

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