White Rose universities launch new bioscience PhDs

A successful collaboration between the White Rose universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York has attracted £6 million to create a joint Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) in mechanistic biology.

The White Rose University Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) in Mechanistic Biology will support world-class molecular bioscience, as well as strategic research in the areas of food security, bioenergy and industrial biotechnology.

The investment from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) will fund a total of 60 studentships, with each studentship receiving around £100,000 over four years.  The program will run for three years, with the first intake of students starting in October 2012.

In recognition of the importance of biosciences research and student education, the White Rose University Consortium will also fund three additional PhD studentships a year, and individual universities will also provide one further studentship a year from their own budgets.  The combined additional support to this programme from the universities will be 18 studentships - bringing the total to 78 new studentships.

Academic leadership is joint across all three institutions, with the University of Leeds taking the administrative lead.  Students can apply to any of the White Rose universities to take part in the program.  An innovative and integral element of the programme, built in to enhance the employability of the DTP students, is the requirement for them to undertake a three-month professional internship outside of the lab to widen their experience of the areas of work in which they can apply their PhD skills and training.  Destinations for these internships will include policymaking, media, teaching and industry.

There will be an opportunity to put forward projects for October 2013 at the beginning of the next academic year.  With the exception of the White Rose network studentships, projects do not have to be co-supervised with colleagues in York or Sheffield.  Studentships can be part-funded from the DTP and part-funded from other sources, such as other studentships or industry.

Professor David Westhead from the Faculty of Biological Sciences at the University of Leeds, who led the successful joint bid, said: "Having a shared postgraduate training programme in biological sciences across three universities has enormous benefits that haven't previously been available to students, such as accessing other universities' equipment and expertise.  This significant award recognises our commitment to broad-based scientific and professional development for our PhD students."

The White Rose programme will be partnered by DEFRA research organisation the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), and the Research Complex at Harwell.

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