EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Molecular Sciences for Medicine

Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: Sch of Natural Sciences & Env Sciences

Abstract

Molecular sciences, such as chemistry, biophysics, molecular biology and protein science, are vital to innovations in medicine and the discovery of new medicines and diagnostics. As well as making a crucial contribution to health and society, industries in this field provide an essential component to the economy and contribute hugely to employment figures, currently generating nearly 500,000 jobs nationally.
To enable and facilitate future economic growth in this area, the CDT will provide a cohort of researchers who have training in both aspects of this interface who will be equipped to become the future innovators and leaders in their field.
All projects will be based in both molecular and medical sciences and will focus on unmet medical needs, such as understanding of disease biology, identification of new therapeutic targets, and new approaches to discovery and development of novel therapies. Specific problems will be identified by researchers within the CDT, industrial partners, stakeholders and the CDT students. The research will be structured around three theme areas: Biology of Disease, Molecule and Assay Design and Structural Biology and Computation. The CDT brings together leading researchers with a proven track record across these areas and who have pioneered recent advances in the field, such as multiple approved cancer treatments. Their combined expertise will provide supervision and mentorship to the student cohort who will work on projects that span these research themes and bring their contributions to bear on the medical problems in question. The student cohort approach will allow teams of researchers to work together on joint projects with common goals. Projects will be proposed between academics, industrial partners and students with priority given to those with industrial relevance.
The programme of research and training across the disciplines will equip graduates of the CDT with an unprecedented background of knowledge and skills across the disciplines. The programme of research and training across the disciplines will be supplemented by training and hands-on experiences of entrepreneurship, responsible innovation and project management. Taken together this will make graduates of the CDT highly desirable to employers, equip them with the skills they need to envisage and implement future innovations in the area and allow them to become the leaders of tomorrow.
A structured and highly experienced management group, consisting of a director, co-directors, theme leads and training coordinators will oversee the execution of the CDT with the full involvement of industry partners and students. This will ensure delivery of the cohort training programme and joint events as well as being accountable for the process of selection of projects and student recruitment. The management team has an established track record of delivery of research and training in the field across industry and academia as well as scientific leadership and network training coordination.
The CDT will be delivered as a single, fully integrated programme between Newcastle and Durham Universities, bringing together highly complementary skills and backgrounds from the two institutions. The seamless delivery of the programme across the two institutions is enabled by their unique connectivity with efficient transport links and established regional networks.
The concept and structure of the CDT has been developed in conjunction with the industrial partners across the pharmaceutical, biotech and contract research industries, who have given vital steer on the desirability and training need for a CDT in this area as well as to the nature of the theme areas and focus of research. EPSRC funding for the CDT will be supplemented by substantial contributions from both Universities with resources and studentship funding and from industry partners who will provide training, in kind contribution and placements as well as additional studentships.

Planned Impact

The CDT has five primary beneficiaries:
The CDT cohort
Our students will receive an innovative training experience making them highly employable and equipping them with the necessary knowledge and skillset in science and enterprise to become future innovators and leaders. The potential for careers in the field is substantial and students graduating from the CDT will be sought after by employers. The Life Sciences Industrial strategy states that nearly half of businesses cite a shortage of graduates as an issue in their ability to recruit talent. Collectively, the industrial partners directly involved in the co-creation of the proposal have identified recruitment needs over the next decade that already significantly exceed the output of the CDT cohort.
Life science industries
The cohort will make a vital contribution to the UK life sciences industry, filling the skills gap in this vital part of the economy and providing a talented workforce, able to instantly focus on industry relevant challenges. Through co-creation, industrial partners have shaped the training of future employees. Additional experience in management and entrepreneurship, as well as peer-to-peer activities and the beginning of a professional network provided by the cohort programme will enable graduates to become future leaders. Through direct involvement in the CDT and an ongoing programme of dissemination, stakeholders will benefit from the research and continue to contribute to its evolution. Instrument manufacturers will gain new applications for their technologies, pharmaceutical and biotech companies will gain new opportunities for drug discovery projects through new insight into disease and new methods and techniques.
Health and Society
Research outputs will ultimately benefit healthcare providers and patients in relevant areas, such as cancer, ageing and infection. Pathways to such impact are provided by involvement of industrial partners specialising in translational research and enabling networks such as the Northern Health Science Alliance, the First for Pharma group and the NHS, who will all be partners. Moreover, graduates of the CDT will provide future healthcare solutions throughout their careers in pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, contract research industries and academia.
UK economy
The cohort will contribute to growth in the life sciences industry, providing innovations that will be the vehicle for economic growth. Nationally, the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy Health Advanced Research Programme seeks to create two entirely new industries in the field over the next ten years. Regionally, medicines research is a central tenet of the Northern Powerhouse Strategy. The CDT will create new opportunities for the local life sciences sector, Inspiration for these new industries will come from researchers with an insight into both molecular and life sciences as evidenced by notable successes in the recent past. For example, the advent of Antibody Drug Conjugates and Proteolysis Targeting Chimeras arose from interdisciplinary research in this area, predominantly in the USA and have led to significant wealth and job creation. Providing a cohort of insightful, innovative and entrepreneurial scientists will help to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of future developments, in line with the aim of the Industrial Strategy of building a country confident, outward looking and fit for the future.
Institutions
Both host institutions will benefit hugely from hosting the CDT. The enhancement to the research culture provided by the presence of a diverse and international cohort of talented students will be beneficial to all researchers allied to the theme areas of the programme, who will also benefit from attending many of the scientific and networking events. The programme will further strengthen the existing scientific and cultural links between Newcastle and Durham and will provide a vehicle for new collaborative research.

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S022791/1 01/05/2019 31/10/2027
2211233 Studentship EP/S022791/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Isabelle Grace Zawadzki
2281869 Studentship EP/S022791/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Alex James Hallatt
2214221 Studentship EP/S022791/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Matthew Stephen Smith
2222507 Studentship EP/S022791/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Matthew Boutflower
2304113 Studentship EP/S022791/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Laura Nunes Filipe
2281881 Studentship EP/S022791/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Olivia Veronica Gittins
2281957 Studentship EP/S022791/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Jessica Sian Graham
2281861 Studentship EP/S022791/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Chong Yun Pang
2304116 Studentship EP/S022791/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Samuel Christopher Went
2281884 Studentship EP/S022791/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Ruth Heather Walker
2442270 Studentship EP/S022791/1 28/09/2020 27/09/2024 Sam Hogan
2440402 Studentship EP/S022791/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2024 Siddique Amin
2444176 Studentship EP/S022791/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2024 Arron Nathan Bale
2449021 Studentship EP/S022791/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2024 Robyn Emma Poulton
2440409 Studentship EP/S022791/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2024 Ben Cree
2448836 Studentship EP/S022791/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2024 Abbey Margaret Butler
2449008 Studentship EP/S022791/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2024 Dorota Gasparikova
2440404 Studentship EP/S022791/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2024 Matt Anderson
2440410 Studentship EP/S022791/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2024 Katie Gristwood
2440414 Studentship EP/S022791/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2024 Dominic Michael Harrison
2448995 Studentship EP/S022791/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2024 Allen Matt Drews
2440416 Studentship EP/S022791/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2024 Leonie Muller