Studentship programme receives £12.5M investment for next generation of scientists

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Research institutions on Norwich Research Park, receive an additional £12.5M from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) for its doctoral training programme, confirming Norwich Research Park’s status as a world-class centre of excellence for bioscience

The quality of research across Norwich Research Park has been given a £12.5M endorsement from the government today with the announcement that it will fund 125 PhD students through the JIC-led Doctoral Training Partnership over the next five years. This investment further cements Norwich Research Park’s growing reputation as a leading, internationally recognised centre of excellence in bioscience.

The new funding significantly builds on a £4M BBSRC investment made in 2012, which supported 39 studentships over three years.

The application was made by five partners across Norwich Research Park: The John Innes Centre (JIC) who led the bid, The Sainsbury Laboratory, The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC), the Institute of Food Research and the University of East Anglia (UEA). Associate partners are Plant Bioscience Limited, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and The SAW Trust.

Aerial view of the Norwich Research Park. Image courtesy of HexCam.

In addition to the £12.5M announced, the partners have themselves contributed £3M to the five year programme, increasing the total number of PhD students being trained from 125 up to 156.

Professor Cyril Zipfel, Head of The Sainsbury Laboratory, said: “I am delighted by this announcement. The increased support from BBSRC will enable us to train the next generation of scientists to continue making major fundamental and applied discoveries to tackle the ever-growing challenge of health and food security.”

Professor David Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of the University of East Anglia, commented: “The award, three times the amount we received in 2012, will allow more than 150 PhD students to benefit from the truly integrated nature of the collaborations across the John Innes Centre, The Sainsbury Laboratory, The Genome Analysis Centre, the Institute of Food Research and UEA.”

Today’s announcement is part of a £125M investment allocated by BBSRC, which funds scientific research to help boost the economy and build on UK strengths in areas such as agriculture, food, industrial biotechnology, bioenergy and health.

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 Doctoral Training Partnership operates as an inter-institutional, inter-disciplinary collaboration ensuring that institutions and the wider community on Norwich Research Park are combining their strengths to improve the training experience - ultimately delivering better equipped next generation scientists into both research and industry. An essential component of the programme is the requirement for each student to complete a three month professional internship outside of the lab. This ensures there is a close connection between research and industry and that PhD skills and training can be applied.

Professor Dale Sanders, Director of the John Innes Centre, said: “I am thrilled that the exceptional quality of PhD training on Norwich Research Park has been recognised by an award of this magnitude. JIC has a long track record of training outstanding graduate students in the life sciences, and this award from BBSRC will continue to enhance the graduate environment through synergistic interactions with UEA and our sister research institutes on Norwich Research Park.”