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Millions to train scientists of the future

Press release issued: 25 October 2007

A multi-million pound award has been received by the University of Bristol to train future scientists to better understand the causes, consequences and treatment of human disease.

A multi-million pound award has been received by the University of Bristol to train future scientists to better understand the causes, consequences and treatment of human disease.

The funding is part of a £137 million initiative to boost postgraduate research. Only twenty such programmes have been awarded to centres of excellence at UK universities. The awards are aimed at supporting the most promising students to undertake in-depth research training.

The University of Bristol has been awarded two of the programmes – one in the School of Medical Sciences, the other in the Department of Social Medicine – that will be linked in a dynamic, multidisciplinary and collaborative research environment. Specialised training will be provided at the cutting-edge of a wide range of important biomedical research areas.

Professor Jenny Donovan, Head of Social Medicine, said: “We are delighted to be the recipients of these extremely prestigious awards which will make Bristol a hub of training excellence in social medicine and cell biology. They are testament both to the distinction of the research groups involved and to the training quality they are able to offer scientists of the future.

“The programme in Molecular, Genetic and Life-course Epidemiology aims to provide a new generation of world-class scientists who will apply rapid developments in technology and biological knowledge to crucial questions of public health, such as obesity and diabetes.”

Professor George Banting, Head of Biochemistry, added: “While human genomics is rapidly identifying those gene mutations that lie at the heart of complex diseases, simply identifying these genes is, by itself, insufficient to understand the disease process. We need to understand gene function in individual cells, tissues and whole organisms.

“The award affords us the unique opportunity to train the very brightest young scientists to understand exactly what is happening inside cells. It establishes Bristol’s reputation as one of the world’s leading research centres in which to study cell biology.”

The funding has been awarded by the Wellcome Trust, the UK’s largest medical research charity. Its four-year PhD programmes were introduced in 1994 and are noted for the high-quality postgraduate training they provide.

“The Wellcome Trust has been at the forefront of innovative PhD research training programmes”, says Dr Candace Hassall of the Wellcome Trust. “The success of the PhD Programmes funded to date shows that they attract the best students. Collaborative, often interdisciplinary, research can flourish and the students can build productive and enjoyable networks.”

Students will spend the first year of their study working in a range of laboratories and with a variety of supervisors. This will enable them to develop a broad experience and build a support network of their peers before going on to choose the specific research project to be undertaken in the subsequent three years.

Funding is for a six-year period and comprises a four-year grant, university fees at home student rates, a contribution towards laboratory expenses in the first year, research expenses for years two to four, contributions towards travel and transferable skills training.

Further information

Calls for applications for the first student intake in October 2008 will be advertised in due course. For informal enquiries please contact Dr Richard Martin, (Molecular, Genetic and Lifecourse Epidemiology), or Professor Peter Cullen, (Dynamic Cell Biology).
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