Scholarship for the PhD in Medical Sciences in the fields of Epidemiology and Environmental Health for the PhD Research Project ‘Climate change-related environmental risk factors and perinatal health’ 

 The PhD in Medical Sciences:

The University of Nicosia Medical School offers the degree PhD in Medical Sciences. The degree is awarded to students who successfully complete an independent research programme that breaks new ground in the chosen field of study. The PhD programme aspires to empower students to become independent researchers, thus advancing innovation and development.

The Research Project:

We are currently inviting application through a competitive process for high calibre candidates to apply for one PhD Scholarship in the fields of Epidemiology and Environmental Health. The successful candidate will enrol on the PhD programme in Medical Sciences and will work under the Supervision of Dr Souzana Achilleos ([email protected]) with expertise in the fields of Epidemiology and Environmental Health at the Department of Primary care and Population, University of Nicosia Medical School.

Project Description:

Title of research project: Climate Change-related Environmental Risk Factors and Perinatal Health

 Background and Rationale:

Climate change poses significant health challenges, impacting individuals directly through events like heat strokes and indirectly through issues such as food insecurity. Certain populations, including children and pregnant women, are particularly vulnerable to these health risks (Portier et al., 2010). The Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) theory underscores the role of early-life environmental exposures, especially during pregnancy, in shaping susceptibility to chronic diseases later in life (Nobile, Di Sipio Morgia & Vento, 2022).

Studies suggest links between climate change-related factors like temperature and air pollution and adverse birth outcomes such as preterm birth and low birth weight (Veenema, Hoepner & Geer, 2023). However, evidence varies across studies and locations, with some areas being more thoroughly studied due to data availability. Cyprus, experiencing warming trends surpassing global averages, presents an important case study, and a recent study has shown associations between higher temperatures during pregnancy and lower birth weight (Liu et al., 2023).

To address gaps in understanding, a systematic review and meta-analysis gathering global evidence on perinatal outcomes and climate change-related environmental risks are crucial. Despite the importance, recent comprehensive reviews are lacking. Evidence from Cyprus and diverse environmental settings can enhance understanding of climate change’s impact on perinatal health, aiding public health decision-making. Identifying these environmental risk factors and their mechanisms is vital for protecting maternal and infant health in the face of climate change.

Aims and Objectives:

The overall aim of the study is to apply robust methods to explore the association between climate change-related environmental risk factors (e.g., air pollutants, temperature, humidity), including their interactions, and perinatal outcomes.

Specifically, the study aims to:

  1. Conduct a systematic synthesis of evidence linking climate change-related environmental risk factors (e.g., air pollutants, temperature, humidity) and perinatal health outcomes at a global scale.
  2. Study the association between climate change-related environmental risk factors (e.g., air pollutants, temperature, humidity), and their interactions, with perinatal outcomes, utilizing available data from Cyprus and, if possible, from the other Multi-Country Multi-City (MCC) Collaborative Research Network countries (

In addition, pursuing a Ph.D. in epidemiology and environmental health offers diverse benefits, equipping candidates with specialized expertise and versatile skills applicable across various professional settings. Undertaking such a PhD project involves rigorous research including study design, data collection, analysis, and interpretation, with candidates having the opportunity to develop skills in statistics, epidemiology, and environmental science and more, enhancing their ability to work across disciplines. It requires perseverance, critical thinking, problem-solving, and resilience. These qualities are highly transferable invaluable in both academic and non-academic careers.

The Scholarship:

The PhD project comes with a Fee Waiver Scholarship that includes:

  • Coverage of tuition fees for the PhD programme for a duration of three years (totalling €13,500). The successful candidate is expected to cover the tuition fees for each additional academic year (€1,500 per year).

The scholarship is subject to annual renewal based on the recipient’s satisfactory academic progress, with maximum renewal period of three years.

Requirements and Qualifications:

  • Eligible Candidates should hold (or hold by the time that the programme is expected to commence i.e. October 2024) either a recognised degree (BSc or a degree equivalent for entry to a Master’s Degree) and a Master’s degree (MSc) of Data Science or Public Health (e.g. Biostatistics, EpidemiologyEnvironmental Health), or a Doctor of Medicine degree (e.g. MBBS or MD degree).
  • Experience with data analyses using R statistical software will be considered advantageous, but not required. If the PhD candidate does not have prior statistical experience with R, he/she will be supported through training and may be asked to take online courses during their first year.

Application for the PhD Scholarship:

Candidates should submit an online application through the ‘Request Information’ form and upload the following supporting documents:

  • A cover letter clearly stating that they apply for the PhD Scholarship in the field of Epidemiology and Environmental Health for the PhD Research Project ‘PHD-2023-2: Climate Change-related Environmental Risk Factors and Perinatal Health’
  • Copies of the applicant’s qualifications/degree(s) – the application can be assessed with scanned copies, but certified true copies must be provided if the candidate is successful and prior to enrolment on the PhD programme.
  • Copies of the applicant’s transcript(s) – the application can be assessed with scanned copies, but certified true copies must be provided if the candidate is successful and prior to enrolment on the PhD programme.
  • Proof of English language proficiency such as IELTS with a score of 7 overall and with a minimum score of 7 in writing or TOEFL iBT with a score of 94 overall and a minimum score of 27 in Writing. Other internationally recognized English language qualifications might be considered upon review. Students from the UK, Ireland USA, Canada (from English speaking provinces), Australia and New Zealand are exempt from the English language requirement.
  • Two reference letters, of which at least one should be from an academic.
  • A full Curriculum Vitae (CV).

Applications should be submitted by Friday, 10th May, 2024 at 5pm.  Only fully completed applications, containing all necessary supporting documents will be reviewed.

Only candidates who are shortlisted will be contacted and invited to an interview.