Applications are now open for Wellcome PhDs starting in October 2010. To do a PhD (doctorate) you need to have an undergraduate degree and you usually need to get a first class or upper second class degree to get onto a PhD programme.
The Wellcome Trust fund PhD’s on medical topics (usually these are related to diseases other than cancer). The Wellcome PhD takes four years, in your first year you work in several different laboratories so you can decide which lab you want to spend the next 3 years of your life working in. In most places chosing a PhD is a bit of a gamble as you don’t know what the lab is like until you start working in it.
Most of the research is carried out in London, Oxford and Cambridge, but there are PhD’s available in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee. There is a list here. A Wellcome Trust PhD provide a generous stipend (i.e. you get paid a reasonable wage, although you are still classed as a student). They also provide other support such as communication training.
If you want to be a scientist then a Wellcome PhD is a great place to start. I expect, as in other years competition for the places will be fierce.
I was a Wellcome PhD student, most people haven’t heard of the Wellcome Trust but they do a lot of great work both researching and promoting science. Although they don’t fund cancer research directly much of their work impacts on cancer research, for example they sequenced one-third of the humane genome at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge. They are currently involved in the Cancer Genome project, to find the most common genetic mutations in the most common types of cancer. To find out more have a read of their Achievements and Impact page.