PhD Programmes

The Wellcome Sanger Institute has two PhD programmes:

The application process for the 2024 intake of the Institute’s 4-year PhD Programme is closed. The closing date was Tuesday 28th November 2023 (09:00 GMT). The PhD Interviews Day will be on Monday 22nd January 2024.

The application process for the 2024 intake of the Institute’s Clinical PhD Programme is closed. The closing date was Thursday 2nd November 2023 (midday GMT). Interviews will be held at the beginning of January 2024 – exact dates to be confirmed.

Please email any queries to:, if you can’t find the relevant information on our 4-year PhD programme and clinical PhD programme pages.

The Wellcome Sanger Institute will be hosting an online Presentation and Q&A session at 15:00-15:40 on Wednesday 25 October 2023, as part of the University of Cambridge Virtual Postgraduate Open Days 2023. Find out more about our 4-year PhD Programme and meet some current students.

To book your place, go to:


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


Gosia Trynka
The Wellcome Sanger Institute is a world leader in genomics research. Our Faculty apply and explore genomic technologies at scale to advance understanding of biology and improve health. Making discoveries not easily made elsewhere, our research delivers insights across health, disease, evolution and pathogen biology. We are open and collaborative; our data, results, tools, technologies and training are freely shared across the globe to advance science.

Funded by Wellcome, we have the freedom to think long-term and push the boundaries of genomics. We take on the challenges of applying our research to the real world, where we aim to bring benefit to people and society.

The Institute is passionate about postgraduate 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 80 postgraduate 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 30 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.

Postgraduate 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 postgraduate students with unprecedented opportunities to develop their skills. Our scientific niche is in large-scale, high-throughput biology, often incorporating systematic genome-wide screens. This is enabled by major data generation platforms in DNA sequencing and cellular genetics, microscopic and spatial imaging, together with an accompanying large IT platform supporting computational data interpretation and analysis.

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.

Postgraduate 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 at least once per year 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 gym, onsite nursery and a free bus service.


University of Cambridge Postgraduate Virtual Open Days

The Postgraduate Virtual Open Days take place in early November. The Open Days are open to all those seeking to apply for postgraduate study at the University of Cambridge, and are hosted on the University’s Virtual Tour.

The event offers you opportunities to ask questions, find out more about the application process, and explore Cambridge virtually. Additionally, you will be able to:

  • Access webinars, films and resources from departments and faculties
  • Learn more about the courses on offer
  • Attend presentations on making an application and writing a research proposal
  • Hear from students about their Cambridge experiences and find out more about life as a student here
  • Discover funding opportunities at the University
  • Explore University facilities and Colleges using 360 degree photography, videos and photo galleries

To attend the Postgraduate Virtual Open Days, you need to register in advance.

For further information please see:


The Virtual Postgraduate Open Days 2023 will take place over 2 weeks:

Week 1 – Subject and Department sessions (23 – 27 October 2023)

Week 2 – Pastoral, College and Finance sessions  (30 October – 3 November 2023)

The Wellcome Sanger Institute will be hosting an online Presentation and Q&A session at 15:00-15:40 on Wednesday 25 October 2023. Find out more about our postgraduate programmes and meet some current students.

To book your place, go to:


The University of Cambridge has a vibrant and diverse international student community and welcomes talented students from around the world. There’s loads going on in the University, Colleges and city, and with students accounting for about a fifth of the city’s overall population, Cambridge is a great place to be a student. See the University’s Student Life pages for more information.

If you have questions about what it’s like to study at Cambridge as an international student, you can chat to an international student ambassador on Unibuddy, see