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£18.5m to train future bioscience leaders

£18.5m will be invested in training the next generation of bioscience leaders at Oxford University to tackle global challenges such as food security and animal health.

£12.5m of funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) combined with over £6m from the University, colleges, and partner organisations will support up to 180 doctoral students over the next five years as part of the Oxford Interdisciplinary Bioscience Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP).

The funding has been awarded as part of a national investment of £125m over five years from BBSRC announced by Business Secretary Vince Cable on 3 October 2014 at an event in Edinburgh. Business Secretary Vince Cable said: 'The UK punches far beyond its weight in science and innovation globally, which is a credit to our talented scientists and first-class universities. This new funding will safeguard Britain's status as a world leader in life sciences and agricultural technology.'

The Interdisciplinary Bioscience DTP offers students a 4-year DPhil programme where they will work on fundamental bioscience of relevance to problems spanning the biological sciences such as: improving crop yields, developing new vaccines for animal diseases, and tissue engineering for regenerative medicine.

Dr Gail Preston, Programme Director of the DTP, said: 'We aim to create an environment in which students are exposed to a wide variety of different disciplines, technologies and approaches across bioscience. Through our DTP partners, students will have access to cutting-edge facilities at Pirbright, Oxford and the Harwell campus to investigate bioscience solutions not just at the level of animals and plants but also at the scale of single cells and molecules. Students will be able to draw on expertise across the partnership to tackle important challenges such as the control of viral diseases of farm animals and of viruses that spread from animals to humans.'

The Interdisciplinary Bioscience DTP builds on the University's existing strengths in interdisciplinary doctoral training and represents a significant expansion of the work of an earlier DTP. As part of their training students will complete two 12-week research projects before deciding on the direction of their DPhil research and will also undertake a three month professional internship to gain direct experience of the skills needed to succeed in a bioscience-related career.

Dr Celia Caulcott, BBSRC Executive Director, Innovation and Skills: 'Bioscience is having a massive impact on many aspects of our lives. BBSRC is paving the way for an explosion in new economic sectors and bioscience that will change the way we live our lives in the 21st century. To achieve this we need to maintain our leading position in global bioscience by ensuring that the next generation of scientists have the best training and skills.'

Partners in the Interdisciplinary Bioscience DTP include the Pirbright Institute, Diamond Light Source, STFC Central Laser Facility, ISIS Neutron Source, The Research Complex at Harwell, and Oxford Brookes University.