UWE Bristol postgraduate research receives boost as part of £170m funding for biosciences

Media Relations Team, 28 October 2019

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A human hand wearing a medical glove taking out a sample in a laboratory.

The next generation of UK bioscientists graduating from the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) has received a boost as part of a £18.5 million fund awarded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC - part of UK Research and Innovation) to the South West Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (SWBio DTP). This is part of a £170 million investment in training the next generation of UK bioscientists, announced this week.

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

At UWE Bristol, the grant will enable the creation of 20 match-funded PhD student positions and at least five fully funded studentships involving time spent on placement (called CASE studentships).

UWE Bristol recently became one of six new regional associate partners in the South West and Wales alongside the Marine Biological Association (MBA), Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML), Swansea University, SetSquared Bristol, and UCB Pharma.

The partnership is led by the University of Bristol together with the Universities of Bath, Cardiff and Exeter (the GW4 Alliance), and Rothamsted Research.

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."
Professor Martin Boddy, who is Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at UWE Bristol said: "This funding will enable us to build on UWE Bristol's world-leading applied biosciences research including biosensing and its applications to bio-diagnostics. This has important applications in agri-food, meat quality and combatting plant diseases. Working with our University Enterprise Zone (UEZ) will also ensure that graduates from the programme are business-aware, enterprising and able to secure exciting roles with a wide range of employers."

The University's application was led by Professor Aniko Varadi, Director of the Centre for Research in Biosciences in the Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences (HAS). Professor Varadi said: "We are very happy to receive this funding. The aim of this DTP is to provide a world-class postgraduate training programme, providing biosciences doctoral graduates with a broad range of skills and experience in interdisciplinary research. These will include, among other areas, synthetic biology, microbial resistance, sustainable agriculture, as well as bioscience for health, covering neuroscience and studies related to nutrition and healthy ageing."

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."

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