PhD Programmes

The Wellcome Sanger Institute has two PhD programmes:

The application process for the 2021 intake of the Institute’s 4-year PhD Programme will open on Thursday 1st October 2020. The application closing date is: Thursday 3rd December 2020 (09:00 GMT). Interviews will take place on the 25th January 2021, and are likely to take place via videoconference. If you have not heard from us by the 11th January 2021, you should assume that you have not been shortlisted for interview.

The application process for the 2021 intake of the Institute’s Clinical PhD Programme is now open. The application closing date is: Tuesday 15th December 2020 (noon GMT). Interviews will be held in February or March 2021, dates tbc.

The Institute is also affiliated with the following University of Cambridge PhD programme:


Gosia Trynka
The Wellcome Sanger Institute is one of the world’s premier genomics research institutes and is at the forefront of this fast developing field. We use large-scale DNA sequencing, informatics and analysis of genetic variation to further our understanding of gene function in health and disease, and the genomic diversity of complex organisms.

The Institute is passionate about graduate student training, and one of our core aims is to nurture the next generation of world class genome scientists and clinicians who will make significant contributions to biomedicine.

The Institute’s two PhD programmes are both open to overseas applicants, and we aim to attract the brightest and best young scientists and clinicians from all around the world.

We currently have around 75 graduate students. All students on our PhD programmes are registered at the University of Cambridge and are members of a Cambridge College, and this allows the students to take an active part in the University’s academic and social life.

The Institute has around 35 Faculty members, each leading a specific area of research as well as collaborating across one or more of our five main research themes: Cancer, Ageing and Somatic Mutation; Cellular Genetics; Human Genetics; Parasites and Microbes; and the Tree of Life.

Graduate students at the Institute play an integral role in these research programmes and are often lead authors on many of the resulting publications. The vast majority of our students have already started to develop an excellent publication record by the time they leave the Institute, and this puts them in an advantageous position to go on and lead highly successful future careers.

The research facilities and resources available are exceptional, even at a global level, and therefore provide graduate students with unprecedented opportunities to develop their skills. These include state-of-the-art facilities for high throughput sequencing and genotyping, informatics and IT, microarray analysis, FACS, microscopy and CL2/3 containment.

As part of our PhD programmes we have a well established and comprehensive training programme, which provides a strong grounding in transferable and general research skills. Our students are encouraged to present their work at national and international scientific meetings, as well as to the Institute. We can also help to develop important links for students through our major roles in many national and international collaborations and consortia across all of our research areas.

Graduate students at the Institute are monitored and managed by a senior academic team (the Committee of Graduate Studies, which meets regularly), with support from dedicated administrative personnel. All students have a thesis committee that meets with the student every six months and primarily serves as a scientific advisory board for the student throughout their PhD work.

The Sanger Institute is nestled amongst the landscaped gardens of a restored 18th century mansion, and is located just south of Cambridge. The campus is shared with the European Bioinformatics Institute, the Biodata Innovation Centre and Genomics England and provides excellent amenities including a well equipped library, restaurant and cafes, sports hall, sports field and gymnasium, onsite nursery and a free bus service.

University of Cambridge Postgraduate Open Day

The Open Day usually takes place at the beginning of November. The event is suitable for those considering applying for postgraduate study at the University. It provides opportunities to meet with students and academics, explore the Colleges, and find out more about the application process and funding opportunities.

In light of the latest advice about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the in-person Cambridge Postgraduate Open Day has been cancelled. However, they are currently working on producing a virtual alternative which will be available in November. More information about this will be available on in September.