University of Exeter: GW4 BioMed2 MRC Doctoral Training Partnership secures major boost

The Medical Research Council (MRC) has committed £79 million to support doctoral training for the next three years, through their Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) competition.

The GW4 BioMed2 MRC Doctoral Training Partnership is one of 17 successful DTPs to receive the awards across 34 UK Research Organisations and has successfully increased its allocation of PhD studentships by 25%. MRC’s vision for these awards is to support high-quality doctoral training programmes that take a student-centred approach, focusing on scientific excellence, positive research culture and wider training opportunities.

The partnership, led by Cardiff University, will train postgraduate research students in three main areas: neuroscience and mental health; infection, immunity, antimicrobial resistance and repair; and population health sciences.

The doctoral training programme has three cross cutting strands: data science, interdisciplinary skills and translation and innovation and includes opportunities for students to broaden horizons through industry placements, research visits, public engagement internships and a bespoke online core skills training element.

Professor Kate Ellacott, academic co-lead for Exeter alongside Dr Emma Pitchforth within the MRC GW4 Biomed Doctoral Training Programme, sad: “We’re thrilled that the MRC GW4 Biomed Doctoral Training Programme has been renewed. This programme supports PhD students in a diverse range of research areas at Exeter, from the molecular basis of Alzheimer’s disease to anti-microbial resistance and the genetics of obesity. Because each student is supported by a supervisory team containing members from more than one GW4 institution it is also fostering exciting collaborations between the Universities of Exeter, Bath, Bristol and Cardiff.”

GW4 BioMed MRC DTP Director, Professor Colin Dayan MA FRCP PhD, commented: “We are very excited to be successful in securing this MRC funding for GW4 BioMed2 MRC DTP. This confirms the close working relationships that our PGR communities have developed over the last six years and the increasing national reputation of our programme. With a community of over 750 potential supervisors and nine industrial partners, we will be able to offer an outstanding training experience for our students.’

GW4 Director, Dr Jo Jenkinson MBE, said: “Our GW4 institutions host over 30 externally funded Doctoral Training Centres and Partnerships, offering students access to the combined research strengths, training expertise and resources of four world-leading research-intensive universities, Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter.

“It’s fantastic MRC have recognised the quality and importance of our collaborative and interdisciplinary BioMed DTP by increasing the numbers of students supported. By working together across the alliance, we provide exceptional research opportunities for our students, and give them the skills required to tackle some of the most difficult societal challenges.”

MRC has awarded GW4 BioMed2 16 notational studentships across the alliance per year for three years, with each GW4 institution contributing an additional studentship each year. The partnership has also received funding for four iCASE studentships over the three years. These industrial CASE studentships (Collaborative Awards in Science and Engineering) allow postgraduate research students to receive high quality research training in collaboration with commercial or other non-academic partners.

Professor Fiona Watt, Executive Chair, MRC, said: “We are thrilled to announce our funding for the next generation of MRC PhD researchers through 17 new UK-wide Doctoral Training Partnership awards. Outstanding research is only possible when we invest in people to conduct that research. Our new awards are student-centred, setting out to increase the diversity of individuals pursing research careers and providing opportunities for students to widen their horizons during and post-PhD.”

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