Infection, Immunology & Translational Medicine (IITM) Oxford

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How are the lab rotations divided up and organised?

Supervisors affiliated with the programme are divided into two groups according to the themes of the programme: Infection and Immunology. Since 2017 the Translational Medicine theme has been integrated with Infection and Immunology, and PIs that do translational research can be found in both groups.

Students on the programme undertake three twelve-week rotations that are separated by two-week long write-up periods. Students must do one rotation with a supervisor from the Infection theme and one with a supervisor from the Immunology theme. For the third rotation, students are free to choose a supervisor from either theme.  Each PI can only take on one rotation student per year.


When do we have to choose our labs for rotation and for the main thesis project?

Before the first and second rotations, students have the opportunity to hear short presentations from the PIs.  Students are given time to visit labs they are particularly interested in, and decisions are made shortly before each rotation starts. This allows students to make more informed decisions about their choices. It also allows students to adapt their choices based on experiences in previous rotations.

Students settle on labs and supervisors in the summer after the rotation year. This allows a period of time for students to undertake background reading of the literature behind their project and to write a project proposal to be submitted to the Wellcome Trust. Students then begin their projects in October of the second year.


Some of the supervisors are based overseas, does this mean we can undertake projects abroad?

As part of the Oxford Tropical Network, there are groups of Oxford academics based permanently at research centres in Kenya, Thailand and Viet nam. Supervisors at all these centres are part of the IITM programme and students have the opportunity to undertake both rotation and thesis projects at any of these locations. Students that wish to go overseas should be aware that doing so requires more organisation than an Oxford based project. Consequently, it may require a great deal of initiative and planning on the part of the student.


What kind of training opportunities are there?

The Medical Sciences Doctoral Training Centre runs a broad programme of skills training throughout the academic year. Sessions include topics such as statistics, analysis tools and presentation & writing skills. Courses are free to medical science students.

Moreover, there is ring fenced funding as part of the Wellcome Trust award to spend on specific training activities relevant to the student’s project.

Students may also opt in to undergraduate or masters-level taught courses if they wish.


Do we obtain an MPhil, MRes or MSc from the first year?

No, the rotation year does not qualify for Masters accreditation. Students will be awarded with a DPhil after satisfactory defence of a thesis at the end of the four years.


What tuition fees apply to non-EU students?

The Wellcome Trust-funded studentship only covers the UK/EU fees rate. Non-EU students may still access this studentship, however they would then have to find top-up funding to cover the rest of the fees to the international rate. Previous students have obtained scholarships from the Clarendon Fund and the Rhodes Trust to cover this, though both are applied to competitively.


Are collaborative projects with more than one supervisor possible?

Yes collaborative projects involving more than one supervisor on the programme are permitted for the main thesis project, but not for the rotation projects. This is particularly encouraged if the collaboration would facilitate multidisciplinary learning around a central project and hypothesis.