18.5 million boost for South West biosciences

PhD training across the biosciences has received a massive boost thanks to a £18.5 million funding award from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC, part of UK Research and Innovation) to the University of Bristol-led South West Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (SWBio DTP).

The funding, part of a 170 million investment into training the next generation of bioscientists, was revealed today [24 Oct] by Prime Minister Boris Johnson who was speaking at an event on enhancing skills in bioscience and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to develop a world-class, highly skilled UK workforce.

Professor Melanie Welham, BBSRC’s Executive Chair, announcing the DTP award , said: “The success of the UK’s science sector and the consequent benefits to society and the economy relies on great researchers doing great work.”

The SWBio DTP will offer four-year PhD studentships over five cohorts starting in October 2020, during which students will undertake interdisciplinary training in statistics, bioinformatics, coding, experimental design, innovation and understanding the impact of research. Students will also undertake three-month Professional Internship for PhD Students (PIPS) placement to develop their skills further and to explore possible future career directions.

The partnership, which is led by Bristol together with the Universities of Bath, Cardiff and Exeter (the GW4 Alliance), alongside Rothamsted Research, has recently expanded to include six new regional associate partners that will provide access to expertise and facilities across the South West and Wales. These encompass, the Marine Biological Association (MBA), Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML), Swansea University, SetSquared Bristol, UCB Pharma and the University of the West of England (UWE).

Professor Leo Brady, Director of the SWBio DTP and Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Bristol, said: “This is fantastic news for future students wanting to work at the cutting edge of biology and biotechnology and train in the world-class research environment offered within the South West and Wales.

“It is also a massive vote of confidence in the sector-leading bioscience departments within our institutions.”

Dr Sarah Perkins , GW4 Director said: “The GW4 Alliance is committed to developing researchers of the future. We are delighted the SWBio DTP has been renewed. It adds to the full complement of GW4 UKRI doctoral training programmes and our range of GW4 Talent and Skills resources provide additional benefits to our doctoral students.”

Further details about the BBSRC SWBio DTP can be found at www.swbio.ac.uk.


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