Aberdeen shares in multi-million pound investment in bioscience skills and training

The University of Aberdeen will share in £67million of new funding for postgraduate training and development in biosciences announced by the UK government today (24 Jan).

The University will receive approximately £1.5M from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to fund 15 studentships as part of a Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) with three other Scottish universities.

The DTP, which is led by the University of Edinburgh also includes the universities of St Andrews and Dundee, The Scottish Universities Life Sciences Alliance (SULSA) and the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance (SUPA), will be known as EASTBIO.

The total award for the partnership is around £7.2million which will fund 72 studentships with additional funding from the partner institutions taking the total number of studentships available to 102.

It will equip students to undertake world-class research projects covering the three main priority areas identified in the BBSRC's Strategic Plan - Food Security, Bioenergy and Industrial Biotechnology, and Basic Bioscience Underpinning Health.

Eastbio is one of 14 successful bioscience projects in line for funding announced by the Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts.

The Minister said: “This £67 million investment in postgraduate training is excellent news for students, research organisations, industry and the UK as a whole. The brightest and best students will be finding solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing us all, from food security through to renewable energy.

“The partnership approach means that many institutions are combining their strengths to provide students with improved training and relevant work experience. This will better equip them for future careers, be it in research, industry, or elsewhere.”

The aim of the DTPs is to deliver highly skilled scientists for the UK research base with the training to meet major social and economic challenges in food security, sustainable bioenergy and renewable materials and improving lifelong health and wellbeing, as well as supporting those undertaking research in core underpinning bioscience.

An integral element of the programme, built in to enhance the employability of the DTP students, is the requirement for them to undertake a three- month professional internship outside of the lab to widen their experience of the areas of work in which they can apply their PhD skills and training. Destinations for these internships will include policymaking, media, teaching and industry.

Dr Celia Caulcott, BBSRC Director of Innovation and Skills said: “We believe that this approach is a great way of doing things, enabling us to support the very best students working in the most important areas from food security through to crucial underpinning bioscience.

“DTPs are all about training researchers to be the best they can be. By doing this we can make real inroads into answering global conundrums which will ultimately have a massive impact on the UK economy and further afield.”

Professor Ian Diamond, principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen, said: “The award recognises the excellence of the PhD training already provided here at Aberdeen and by each of the institutions in the partnership.

“By combining the strengths and expertise of the partner institutions, we have developed a PhD programme that offers world-class training in the Biosciences and access to cutting edge technologies and expertise.

“The programme is designed to produce enterprising PhD graduates with the knowledge and skills required to compete on an international stage, whether in research or other career paths.”