MRes Integrative Biology

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Life Sciences


The one-year Masters of Research in Integrative Biology is an innovative route to starting out a research career that requires in vivo skills. Students taking the MRes are provided with a unique opportunity to experience research projects over a broad range of disciplines and laboratory environments within The Universities of Manchester (UoM) and Liverpool (UoL). The two Universities run slightly different programmes, though both are comprised of laboratory-based research projects, Home Office licencing, a tutorial module, research seminars, training in personal and transferable skills. At present, training for in vivo science in the UK is very limited - due, at least in part, to the limited number of University Departments able to provide training in in vivo physiology and pharmacology. This has been recognised by a wide range of bodies including the BBSRC, other Research Councils, HEFCE, the pharmaceutical industry and professional societies. It is essential that the shortage of scientists with in vivo skills is reversed by the development of new academic initiatives, which fit with the future strategies of the BBSRC, the NHS, Industry and Government. UoM and UoL have addressed the problem by establishing the Centre for Integrative Mammalian Biology (cIMB). The cIMB was set up following a major award (BBSRC/MRC/ABPI/BPS/HEFCE/SFC) for Capacity Building in IMB: one of four awards in the UK. The cIMB works closely with MRC Centre for Drug Safety Science (CDSS), another initiative across the two Universities. The aim of the CDSS is to improve the speed and efficiency of translating basic research into new, safe and effective therapeutic agents. Our MRes is an integral part of the cIMB education programme which includes undergraduate and postgraduate research degrees, outreach to schools and the public, as well as continuing professional development. The aim of the MRes is to develop scientists with the necessary knowledge and in vivo skills to carry out cutting-edge basic and translational medical research. Our students obtain a thorough theoretical foundation in cell and systems physiology, a working knowledge of the techniques available for in vivo research and experience of planning and executing research projects. Our graduates are thus able to work from first principles in planning a study, and have the confidence borne from experience to move into independent research in academia or industry. The essential features of our programmes are 1) excellence in experimental design, 2) the development and best husbandry of animal models directly relevant to man and 3) training in and application of a very wide range of analytical technologies. The MRes also is an integral part of research capacity within the cIMB and CDSS. There are currently 86 principal investigators who are members of one or both Centres. Each principal investigator is a research active member of staff who uses in vivo sciences to some extent in their work. We are further increasing capacity by actively encouraging collaborations between these scientists and others who currently cannot use an integrated approach due to the lack of the necessary skills or licencing. For example, currently the cIMB has a total of 33 PhD students that depend heavily on in vivo sciences (this does not include simply the use of transgenic models or collecting tissue for ex vivo analysis). All of these PhDs have involved co-supervisions, often across Faculties. As part of the competitive vetting process, the potential supervisors provide outlines for one or more MRes projects otherwise their applications for PhD studentships will not be considered. Thus, we can guarantee a varied supply of innovative, cutting-edge projects for our MRes students (see examples in the Case for Support). Indeed, many of our MRes graduates go on to do a PhD as part of a '1+3' or a stand-alone degree.


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