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£4.5m boost from BBSRC to help region’s bioscientists meet global economic and social challenges

The University of Warwick, in partnership with the University of Birmingham and the University of Leicester, has been chosen for an investment of approximately £4.5 million in postgraduate training in vital research areas such as food security, bio-energy and quantitative biology.

The Midlands Integrative Biosciences Training Partnership, led by the University of Warwick, will offer up to 90 four-year studentships over the next three academic years as a result of an award by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and match funding from the universities.

BBSRC doctoral training partnerships are part of a £67 million nationwide investment in bioscience training announced by the Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts in order to meet economic and social challenges for the future.

Over the next three years, the University of Warwick and its partners will offer doctoral scholarships in areas such as food security, industrial biotechnology including bio-energy and other technologically innovative biological programmes.

Head of the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick John McCarthy said: “The University of Warwick and its partners are playing an important role in this nationwide drive to improve biosciences skills and training.

“Global challenges such as ensuring food security and developing underpinning biotechnologies will have an impact on the lives of everyone on this planet. Warwick and our partners have prioritised these areas for research.

“Our scientists are already at the cutting edge of innovation in these crucial fields and this investment will ensure our work intensifies and helps provide the very best training to upcoming generations of scientists.”

Chair of Warwick Graduate School Jacqueline Labbe added: “This prestigious award by the BBSRC recognises the calibre of life sciences research in the Midlands and and the University of Warwick’s leading role.

“We look forward to building the Midlands Integrative Biosciences Training Partnership to give critical mass to these vital research areas.”

The investment is one of 14 Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) announced across the UK.

Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts 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 DTPs represent a new, more strategic approach from BBSRC to deliver highly skilled scientists for the UK research base.

Taken as a whole, the DTP programme will deliver scientists 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 innovative and 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.

BBSRC will be working closely with each DTP to support the delivery of excellent training and facilitate the development of a cohort of highly skilled BBSRC early career scientists.

To provide greater support for the research training costs of each student, and to recognise rising research inflation, BBSRC is awarding significantly higher research training grants for each student of £5,000 per student, per year.

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.”

Notes to editors

For further information please contact Anna Blackaby, University of Warwick press officer, on 02476 575910 or 07785 433155 or