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Funding boost for postgraduate biomedical sciences research

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10 December 2015

The University of Bristol has received funding from the Wellcome Trust to renew three prestigious PhD studentship programmes in the Faculties of Biomedical Sciences and Health Sciences.

The four-year PhD studentships support promising students to undertake in-depth postgraduate training in a range of important biomedical research areas. The three Bristol programmes cover genetics and population health; molecular and cellular biology; and neuroscience.

The Wellcome Trust PhD in Molecular, Genetic and Lifecourse Epidemiology, led by Professor George Davey Smith, utilises the wealth of molecular and lifecourse data generated by new technologies to transform our understanding of health and disease.

The programme seeks to train a new generation of researchers in the integration of genetic and molecular data in epidemiological studies (which focus on the incidence, distribution and control of disease in populations). Population-based health sciences are making a growing contribution to many areas of biomedical research. As data become more readily available and large cohort studies gather more longitudinal and complex data sets, the need for academics equipped with up-to-date skills to interpret and apply these resources continues to grow.

The Wellcome Trust PhD in Dynamic Molecular Cell Biology, led by Professor Peter Cullen, seeks to train the next generation of cell biologists to examine the dynamics of living cells, tissues and organisms, and their role in human health and disease, using outstanding imaging facilities. These technologies enable scientists to explore more fully the causes and effects of disease, which in turn will help develop new drugs to treat a range of conditions, from cancer to neurodegenerative disorders.

The Wellcome Trust PhD in Neural Dynamics, led by Professor Richard Apps, aims to train a new generation of neuroscientists who are able to combine experimental and mathematical/computational approaches to study the dynamics of neural systems. Better understanding of the way that the nervous system works over time, including interactions between different brain regions underlying learning and behaviour, and the ability of neural cells to develop new connections and strengthen existing ones, will allow scientists to develop new approaches to therapy - a major challenge in a society where the prevalence of neurological disorders will increase significantly in the future.

Professor George Banting, Dean of the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences, said: ‘These programmes will help us to train a cohort of students across a range of biomedical science disciplines. Having one Wellcome Trust funded PhD programme in a university is impressive; having three is truly outstanding. All involved in obtaining funding for these programmes deserve great praise; we are now actively recruiting the very best students to the programmes and look forward to working with them as they develop and seize the opportunities available to them.’

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