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Award for Pioneering Project to Train New Breed of Scientists

Originally Published 01 August 2003

The University of Warwick has been awarded £5 Million from EPSRC (Engineering and Physical sciences Research Council) for a new Life-Sciences Doctoral Training Centre set to educate a new breed of scientists. The funds secure 50 student doctoral student projects on a new multidisciplinary programme that will produce a new generation of life science researches armed with an in depth understanding of how mathematics and computer technology can advance their research.

The demand for mathematical, computational and biophysical expertise for life sciences research is outstripping existing training programmes in the UK. Highly specific skills in biology, physical and mathematical sciences will enable these scientists to make sense of complex computer data sets tied to gene mapping. These data sets comprise a scientific bible of life, revealing how proteins and nucleic acids work to make healthy cells and cause diseases.

To researchers on an endless quest for cures and preventative treatments for diseases, such data is worth more than their weight in gold, as are the scientists who can interpret them. The growth of data about molecules and cells means that biology an increasingly complex science. Scientists who can use the latest technology to mine the data and answer difficult answers about biological function are scarce. The new Doctoral Training Centre in Molecular Organisation and Assembly in Cells (MOAC) will fund the 50 PhD projects over 5 years, with 8 positions available in 2003.

The training centre is led by a collaboration of the Chemistry, Mathematics and Biological Sciences departments. The interface between mathematics and biology is rapidly growing as new mathematical and statistical approaches to model and interpret complex biological problems and data sets develop.

Dr Alison Rodger, from the Department of Chemistry, at the University of Warwick, said: “Research in Life Sciences is an area of scientific research that has changed radically in recent years following the sequencing of the human and other important genomes. This multi-disciplinary project is set to break new ground in the analysis of biological or molecular data. UK industry needs a strong research and technical base. Students who complete this new PhD, with their developed computer literacy, numeric and technical skills, will be extremely attractive employees. ”

The programme will interest graduates in mathematics, computing and physical sciences who are looking to develop multidisciplinary research programmes. Each PhD student will receive a year’s training in key areas of Mathematics, Scientific Computing, Chemistry and Biology, which leads to an MSc, and will then complete a doctorate, applying their knowledge to cellular or molecular biology problems.

The programme starts October 2003 and interested candidates should visit the MOAC website for more information.

For more information contact: Dr Alison Rodger, Department of Chemistry, University of Warwick, Tel: 02476 765 23234 Email: or Jenny Murray, Assistant Press Officer, University of Warwick Tel: 02476 574 255 Email: