Funding windfall links University of Leicester PhD talent with industry

Posted by er134 at Mar 24, 2014 11:03 AM |
Prestigious Industrial CASE Studentships will encourage collaboration between Leicester scientists and industry

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 24 March 2014

The University of Leicester has been awarded four prestigious Industrial CASE Studentships, to support cutting-edge research into some of today’s pressing medical and biological challenges.

The studentships will fund 4-year collaborative PhD projects supervised jointly by a member of academic staff and an industrial partner. Studentships are principally based at the academic partner, with a mandatory placement at the non-academic partner for a minimum of three and up to eighteen months.

For the first time, the University of Leicester has secured four of these studentship with a total value of nearly £400,000, allowing businesses to take advantage of burgeoning medical and biological research talent.

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Medical Research Council (MRC) fund up to 90 and 30 Industrial CASE studentships respectively, with additional support and involvement from an industrial partner.

The studentships will fund four PhD projects at the University of Leicester:

  • The Centre for Genetic Architecture of Complex Traits will work with the SABMiller experimental brewery to perform quantitative genetic analysis of brewing strains of yeast for the first time. The hybrid nature of brewing yeast has prevented such analysis in the past. The project will allow geneticists to identify particular genetic characteristics of yeast and to develop new brewing hybrids of benefit to the brewing industry as well as open the door to the genetic analysis of hybrids in general. The project is led by Professor Ed Louis and funded by the BBSRC.
  • A Medical Research Council CASE Studentship held jointly by Dr Simon Wagner, of the Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine, and Domainex, an innovative drug discovery company based in Cambridge. Building on the discovery of a potential  survival pathway in a common type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, the project will use novel agents developed by Domainex to understand the mechanism of the drugs' action and define patient groups that are most likely to benefit.
  • Dr Richard Bayliss and Professor Mark Carr from the Department of Biochemistry are working with MRC Technology to develop an alternative approach to the development of new drugs that block kinase activity, funded by the BBSRC. Protein kinases are the most frequently dysregulated family of proteins in human cancer. The project will investigate the mechanisms by which the activity of an individual kinase molecule is controlled, and develop chemical compounds that block these processes. These molecules will be developed into drug candidates through the collaboration with MRCT.
  • Dr Primrose Freestone of the Department of Infection, Immunity & Inflammation will supervise a project with Dr Suzanne Jordan at Campden BRI, Ltd on improving the food safety of salads. It will lead to a better understanding of the interaction between food-borne pathogens such as Salmonella and chemicals released from salad produce, and the resident microflora on the plant tissue surface. The student will be able to evaluate their University of Leicester findings using industrial-scale salad processing and washing systems at Campden BRI. The project is funded by the BBSRC.

Dr Ismael Tejero, Business Development Manager in the University's Enterprise and Business Development Office, said: "We're incredibly pleased that we have secured a record number of CASE industrial studentships this year.

"These studentships provide additional vocational skills not otherwise learnt on a regular PhD and are great preparation for both academic and industrial careers.

"They will also help the University of Leicester to build more relationships with industry and potentially encourage more collaborative work. Studentships help to get the latest academic research transferred into industry and are a great opportunity to collect feedback about research and technology from our industrial partners."

Ends

Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Dr Ismael Tejero at: it70@leicester.ac.uk.

About BBSRC

BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Funded by Government, and with an annual budget of around £467M (2012-2013), we support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

For more information about BBSRC, our science and our impact see: www.bbsrc.ac.uk

For more information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes see: www.bbsrc.ac.uk/institutes

The Medical Research Council has been at the forefront of scientific discovery to improve human health. Founded in 1913 to tackle tuberculosis, the MRC now invests taxpayers’ money in some of the best medical research in the world across every area of health. Twenty-nine MRC-funded researchers have won Nobel prizes in a wide range of disciplines, and MRC scientists have been behind such diverse discoveries as vitamins, the structure of DNA and the link between smoking and cancer, as well as achievements such as pioneering the use of randomised controlled trials, the invention of MRI scanning, and the development of a group of antibodies used in the making of some of the most successful drugs ever developed. Today, MRC-funded scientists tackle some of the greatest health problems facing humanity in the 21st century, from the rising tide of chronic diseases associated with ageing to the threats posed by rapidly mutating micro-organisms. www.mrc.ac.uk

About Domainex
Domainex is a drug discovery company that is removing bottle necks in drug discovery.  It uses its proprietary technologies and capabilities in medicinal chemistry to support client projects, as well as enabling Domainex to develop an oncology and autoimmune disease focussed pipeline of novel drug compounds. Domainex has chosen a number of well-validated but challenging targets, that it has successfully unlocked with its Combinatorial Domain Hunting and LeadBuilder technologies.  The pipeline is focussed upon some exciting kinases and on lysine methyltransferases (KMTs) involved in epigenetics.  Domainex intends to take these projects into lead optimization and candidate selection, and would welcome enquiries from potential partners who may be interested in working with us on their further development.

Domainex is based on the Cambridge Science Park, England and has offices in the London Bioscience Innovation Centre.

www.domainex.co.uk

For more information, please contact Joanne.McCudden@domainex.co.uk

About Campden BRI

Campden BRI (www.campdenbri.co.uk) provides technical, legislative and scientific support and research to the food and drinks industry worldwide – with a comprehensive “farm to fork” range of services covering agri-food production, analysis and testing, processing and manufacturing, safety, training and technical information services. Members and clients benefit from industry-leading facilities for analysis, product and process development, and sensory and consumer studies, which include a specialist brewing and wine division.

About MRC Technology
MRC Technology (www.mrctechnology.org) is an independent life science technology transfer charity, offering professional services to organisations within the academic, charity, biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors globally. Services include IP management and research and development for diagnostics, small molecules and therapeutic antibodies. MRC Technology bridges the gap between basic medical research and commercialisation, helping early discoveries progress to clinical application.

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