Exploiting the power of modern genetics; developing vaccines without needles; computing inspired by biology; and safeguarding future human security are some of the new challenges to be tackled by the University's Oxford Martin School.
The School today announced that it is awarding £6.4 million to six new projects to start in October. The projects will involve more than 70 Oxford academics from 17 different departments across the University.
The new research projects will cover:
Global health: Two separate projects will tackle global health issues. One team of researchers aims to transform vaccine effectiveness and develop innovative needle-free vaccines. Meanwhile, in a separate project, academics will examine how to harness the power of modern genetics to improve treatments for viral infections like HIV and Hepatitis C.
Human rights: Experts in law, politics and ethics will work on designing a framework to protect human rights in a global context – where armed conflict, poverty and environmental change are pressing challenges.
Stewardship of resources: A research programme aims to explore more effective ways of preserving natural resources, specifically freshwater resources and land‐use, for future generations.
Quantum computing: Researchers will look at the potential of quantum technology, a relatively new field of physics and engineering, to try to replicate biological systems to create more advanced computer modelling systems for complex questions such as predicting climate.
Systemic risk: Researchers will look at how to improve the resilience of critical global systems – such as the internet or the global financial system – in the face of growing risk and uncertainty.
More than 330 academics from different disciplines applied for the awards as part of a competition launched by the Oxford Martin School. The winning teams were judged on their academic excellence. The research programme needed to address 'issues of global scale' and have the potential to provide real impact on the world beyond academia.
Director of the Oxford Martin School, Professor Ian Goldin, said: 'We need fresh approaches that break out of academic silos if we are to address mounting global problems. By bringing in these new teams of physicists, mathematicians, social scientists, philosophers, biologists, zoologists, medics and others, I am confident that we can build on the extraordinary existing research being undertaken by the Oxford Martin School.
'Our research community now encompasses over 300 scholars working to identify novel approaches to tackling the challenges of the 21st century.'
The awards are drawn from an endowment of $100 million, which was donated by the School’s founder Dr James Martin. The Oxford Martin School issues a competitive funding call to University of Oxford academics every three years.
The six new projects will join 32 other research programmes currently funded by the School.