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MSc in Reproductive & Developmental Biology (BBSRC Funding Available)

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Queen Mary, University of London
School of Medicine

University of Glasgow
College of Medical, Veterinary & Life Sciences

University of Sheffield
School of Medicine

Monash University
Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

1 Year Full-Time
2:2 Science
Dr Mark Sullivan
Masters study type: Full time

Description of the course.
The MSc is a 12 month full-time course starting in October each year. The aim of this MSc is to provide an opportunity for scientists and clinicians to receive training in the basic science and clinical aspects of reproductive & developmental biology. The course consists of taught modules for 6 months, and a research project for 6 months. The majority of the course will be undertaken in the Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology (IRDB), which is on the Hammersmith Campus of Imperial College London, but some lectures may take place at other Imperial College London sites, such as St. Mary’s Hospital in Paddington

Funding available
Four BBSRC MSc studentships are available each year on a competitive basis and we welcome applications from strong candidates. Funding covers fees and a stipend for living expenses for this one year MSc and is available to UK residents and to members of the EU who have been resident in the UK for 3 years. Please indicate on your application form whether you wish to be considered for such an award.

The fascination and importance of reproduction and embryonic development is unparalleled. Tremendous advances have been made in our understanding of the development of pluripotent embryonic stem cells into the myriad of specialised cells and tissues that form a fetus, but there is much to learn. The application of cellular and molecular biology together with genetics provide the keys to the study of reproduction and development, but many of the problems associated with fertilisation, fetal growth and development, pregnancy loss and maternal complications are still poorly understood. There is also good evidence that adult diseases such as diabetes and heart disease have their origins during fetal development but as yet we have little molecular insight into this fetal programming. Recently there has been an explosion in research into stem cell biology since this will not only provide insights into cellular differentiation, but may also lead to important therapeutic opportunities.

Course Structure
The course is divided into two six-month components. During October to March students attend taught modules in (1) Molecular medicine; (2) Reproductive endocrinology; (3) Gametogenesis and preimplantation development; (4) Implantation and pregnancy; (5) Fetal development and physiology; (6) Reproductive medicine; (7) Stem cell biology; (8) Hormone receptors and cell signalling. Formal examination of the taught element occurs in March upon completion of these modules. In parallel with the teaching programme, students are required to complete four essays of approximately two thousand five hundred words, and one oral presentation, on topics that complement the subject matter of taught modules.

The final six months of the course, from March to September inclusive, is devoted to the laboratory-based research project and completion of a dissertation based on this work. All the projects provide training in contemporary cellular and molecular techniques applied to the study of reproductive and developmental biology. The research projects are supervised by staff of the Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology and are within their specialist research areas. These include: Stem Cell Biology (Wei Cui, Véronique Azuara); Ovarian Physiology, Gametogenesis and Embryogenesis (Kate Hardy, Steve Franks, Robert Winston); Maternal & Placental Pathophysiology (Catherine Williamson, Nick Fisk, Mark Sullivan); Parturition (Phil Bennett, Mark Sullivan); Fetal and Neonatal Stress (Vivette Glover); Cell Signalling and Gene Expression in Reproduction and Development (Malcolm Parker, Ilpo Huhtaniemi, Jan Brosens, Nick Dibb).

Career prospects
For the scientist, the MSc in Reproductive & Developmental Biology provides a valuable qualification and sound training for a further career in scientific research. Some will go on to register for a PhD, or become Research Assistants, in one of the many university departments nationally which carry out research in reproduction and developmental biology. About 30% of past students have followed this route. Other scientists will gain from this course because it provides an unrivalled background for further training as an embryologist or andrologist in one of the increasing number of assisted reproduction and IVF units world-wide. About 25% of past students have joined IVF units. Clinicians with an interest in all aspects of Reproduction and Development gain greatly from this course because it provides the background knowledge usually absent in most specialist training programmes and because it uniquely gives training in laboratory-based research, perhaps suitable for the start of an MD project.

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Home, EU and Overseas applicants hoping to start this course in October 2014 are eligible to apply for the Imperial Faculty of Medicine Master’s Degree Scholarships. This scheme offers a variety of awards, including full tuition payment and a generous stipend. For more information, please visit our website:

Visit the MSc in Reproductive & Developmental Biology (BBSRC Funding Available) page on the Imperial College London web site for more details!

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