PhD Studentship: Fully Funded Health Data Research UK PhD Scholarship: Understanding the Multifaceted Drivers of Socioeconomic Inequalities in Asthma in Wales

Swansea University

Funding providers: Health Data Research UK

Subject areas: Population Data Science

Project start date: 

  • 1 October 2023 (Enrolment open from mid-September)

Project description: 

HDR UK aims to unite the UK’s health data to enable discoveries that improve people’s lives, with a 20-year vision for large-scale data and advanced analytics to benefit every patient interaction, clinical trial, and biomedical discovery, and public health. HDR UK’s strategy for its second Five Year phase  (2023-2028) focuses on three goals: Accelerate Trustworthy Data Use, Empower Researchers, and Promote Partnerships. 

This PhD is funded by HDR UK’s Inflammation and Immunity Driver Programme, aiming to advance the UK’s understanding of mechanisms and health outcomes, using respiratory and allergic disorders as exemplar domains. This Driver Programme will explore inflammation and immunity as general underpinning mechanisms, starting with highly prevalent respiratory and allergic diseases, which can be exacerbated by acute inflammatory episodes due to infections, pollution, tobacco, pollen, weather, drugs, foods and stinging insects. The Driver Programme’s long-term plan is to extend the data science capabilities and capacity created, to other inflammatory-mediated diseases. 

We seek exceptional candidates to become future leaders in health data science, providing access to training activities through HDR UK Futures  and the Driver Programme local teams. The successful candidate will join a vibrant cohort of HDR UK-funded PhD students in a highly interdisciplinary environment, fostering interdisciplinary collaboration and networking across the UK. 


Asthma has a significant health and economic burden in Wales, with about 1 in 11 people affected. 

Inequitable variations in asthma outcomes have been identified between population groups in Wales, with the most deprived population groups having higher rates of asthma prevalence, morbidity, emergency healthcare utilization, and mortality. 

Using data on healthcare utilisation, census, and the Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation (WIMD) in the Secure Anonymised Information Linkage (SAIL), the successful candidate will investigate the association of asthma outcomes in Wales with determinants of health such as income, education, environmental exposure, access to healthcare access and healthcare quality and whether asthma inequalities have changed over time. The research will cover all age groups, with a focus on children. 

The successful candidate will receive training in epidemiology and population data science and engage with stakeholders for feedback and policy translation. 


Candidates must normally hold a first degree (at least a 2.1) in a relevant subject is required (or its equivalent if outside the UK). Candidates with qualifications in mathematics / computer science and a health-related discipline are particularly encouraged to apply, but it would be possible for those with mathematics, physics or other computational training to learn the healthcare context. 

Experience in one or more of the following would be desirable: 

  • Programming in MATLAB/Python/R, etc. 
  • Previous research experience with healthcare datasets or electronic health records. 

English Language requirements: If applicable – IELTS 6.5 overall (with at least 5.5 in each individual component) or Swansea recognised equivalent. 

Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is open to applicants eligible to pay tuition fees at the UK rate only, as defined by UKCISA regulations . 

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