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The Babraham Research Campus receives funding for barrier-busting PhD programme

07/10/2021

Babraham Research Campus Ltd, which develops and manages the Babraham Research Campus, and the Babraham Institute have secured funding for fifteen PhD studentships from UKRI-BBSRC as part of a Collaborative Training Partnership (CTP). Through a tailored programme of skills training and scientific and industry supervision the partnership will produce a cohort of bioscience researchers equipped with excellent research skills and commercial know-how.

Campus CTP projects combine scientific and industry supervision to train PhD students in breakthrough skills and new technologies to meet needs identified by the commercial sector.  Students will be immersed in a unique integration of academic research, bioscience innovation and commercial know-how to equip them for successful careers in academia, industry and the wider bioscience sector. This funding continues the Campus aim in being recognised as “one of the best places in the world for discovery bioscience research and innovation”, with the first five PhD students being recruited to the programme in October 2022.

Derek Jones, Chief Executive Officer of Babraham Research Campus Ltd, welcomed the announcement: “The Babraham Research Campus offers a dynamic and supportive community for life scientists and entrepreneurs across academic and commercial research. We are excited to partner with the Babraham Institute and welcome a cohort of students who will be able to benefit from our extensive expertise and receive access to unique, world class academic and commercial training opportunities. This partnership will not only provide an outstanding experience for our students but also support early-stage companies by providing access to on-site, talented PhD students and their academic labs. This investment means that from the start of their careers, researchers will bridge both academic and commercial spheres, being influenced by the best of both sectors to create cross-disciplinary, commercially-aware researchers with a unique in-depth appreciation of innovation.”

By developing researchers equipped by exposure to the commercial bioscience sector and academic research the programme addresses the UK Government’s strategy to strengthen the bioeconomy by increasing the number of highly skilled researchers in the sector.

Rolling out over a period of three years, eleven different Institute research groups will host students as they undertake their PhDs in partnership with thirteen Campus companies. Each CTP student will conduct their research within one of the Institute’s three research programmes and spend time working with one of the Campus-based companies. The close location of companies to the Institute will allow students to benefit from a high degree of interaction with their industrial partner throughout the period of their studentship.

The strengths and synergy between the Institute’s research groups and Campus companies are directed toward understanding fundamental biology that underpins health and disease biology, with a particular focus on ageing, immunology, cell signalling processes, genomics, epigenomics, lipidomics, proteomics and imaging. This is coupled with development of new technologies which transform and empower drug discovery and development.

Students will also shadow early-stage life science ventures as they participate in the Campus’ five-month bioentrepreneurial programme, Accelerate@Babraham, which will provide insight to the spin out/start-up process and an awareness of key commercial knowledge areas.

Dr Simon Cook, Interim Director of the Babraham Institute, commented: “This funding recognises the Institute’s long history of successful collaborations with industry partners, our dedication to supporting PhD students during their studies and our commitment to work with Babraham Research Campus Ltd in the support of innovative early-stage bioscience companies. I am excited to be a part of training a generation of researchers who will be primed to produce innovative solutions to human health challenges and pioneer world class scientific discoveries.”

Announcing the £22.5m investment for CTPs from 2022-28, BBSRC executive chair, Professor Melanie Welham said: “With the awards we have announced today BBSRC underlines its commitment to work with industry to support the next generation of bioscience researchers.”