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£4.6M boost for future biomedical research leaders

Press release issued: 2 December 2015

The future of biomedical research in the UK will receive a vital boost thanks to a new collaborative PhD training programme worth £4.6 million. Largely funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC), the new award to the GW4 Alliance – comprising the University of Bristol, University of Bath, Cardiff University and the University of Exeter – will fund more than 50 postgraduate research students over the next three years.

GW4 encourages interdisciplinary research across a wide pool of academics with the aim of tackling some of the biggest problems facing society. 

Known as the GW4 BioMed MRC Doctoral Training Partnership, the new programme will train postgraduate research students in three main areas: neuroscience and mental health; infection, immunity and repair; and population health.

There will also be a strong emphasis on addressing national priorities in areas such quantitative and interdisciplinary skills, and in vivo methodology. The first cohort will begin their training in 2016.

Professor Colin Dayan of Cardiff University, the Academic Director of the new Doctoral Training Partnership, said: ‘The new programme is unique in that it offers students access to the combined research strengths, training expertise and resources of four world-leading research-intensive universities, and places great emphasis on interdisciplinary working.

‘We will provide exceptional research opportunities for our students, and give them the skills required to tackle some of the most difficult challenges facing biomedical research.”

Professor Guy Orpen, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Bristol and Chair of the GW4 Board, said: ‘The launch of the GW4 BioMed MRC Doctoral Training Partnership adds to GW4’s reputation for collaborative doctoral training of both quality and scale.

‘By working together, we can provide the next wave of researchers with opportunities that we could not provide alone, attracting the very best to our universities.

‘The GW4 BioMed MRC Doctoral Training Partnership is a great example of the benefits of co-operation and will develop students who will succeed in both academia and industry.’

The training programme will have three strands in its curriculum: research skills; professional and career development skills; and opportunities to broaden horizons.

Students will be encouraged to undertake placements, research visits, public engagement internships, and will have the opportunity for clinical experience.

The GW4 Alliance already hosts six doctoral training partnerships. With more than 8,000 postgraduate researchers and a combined annual turnover in the excess of £1bn, the alliance offers a research environment that is not only large but also of high quality.

The MRC has contributed £3.3m of funding to the new programme, while institutions within GW4 have committed an additional £1.3m.

Further information

About the GW4 Alliance

The GW4 Alliance combines the intellectual capacity and physical resources of the four leading research-intensive universities in the South West of England and Wales: Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter.

It builds leading cross-institutional research communities, whose cumulative impact is enhanced through collaboration, and develops strategic partnerships with industry, governments, the arts and civil society. All four universities are in the top one per cent of institutions in the world and have a combined turnover well in excess of £1 billion.

For more information about GW4 see

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