EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Chemical Biology - Innovation for the Life Sciences

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Dept of Chemistry

Abstract

Chemical biology research spearheads the development of novel molecular tools and technologies to study molecular interactions and address life sciences challenges. The impact of these technologies and understanding they unlock is transformative, supporting innovation across the UK economy, in sectors such as healthcare & med-tech, personal care, agri-science, and bio-tech; with a combined annual turnover > £100bn. It further supports the UK knowledge economy by kick-starting a new wave of disruptive SMEs.
With the world population predicted to increase in both number and age, pressing demands are being made upon UK plc. This is leading to the industrialisation of the life sciences with Chemical Biology led molecular tools and technologies being dovetailed with "Industry 4.0" advances in additive manufacturing, machine learning and automation. Chemical Biology will therefore play a pivotal role in innovation R&D pipelines, enabling biological and biomedical research to advance more rapidly towards product development and end-user application, e.g. novel diagnostics and drugs to tackle disease; sensors and agro-chemicals/technologies for crop protection; improved formulations in the personal care sector; and increased understanding of nutrient impact on long-term health through advances in molecular measurement technologies. In parallel these advances will benefit the UK instrumentation science sector.
There is a therefore a pressing need for a new type of PhD graduate able to embrace this industrial revolution of the life sciences, combining the creation of the next generation of molecular tools and technologies with industry 4.0 technologies. The Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Chemical Biology: Innovation for the Life Sciences will directly address this skills shortage, by training ~80 PhD students, providing them with the skills to operate seamlessly across the physical/mathematical sciences and life sciences and capitalize upon and drive breakthroughs at the human-machine interface. Graduates will emerge armed with an in-depth understanding of product development pipelines acquired through first-hand experience of multi-disciplinary translational research and early stage commercialisation. This will enable them to become leaders of technology innovation in academia, industry and healthcare.
To achieve this the CDT is working closely with industry and SMEs to develop new frameworks for training, collaboration and translation within a cohort-based programme, where no student is an island and diversity and equality are promoted at all levels. The PhD students will be supported by one of the largest Chemical Biology communities in the world, the Institute of Chemical Biology at Imperial College London, which brings together over >135 research groups and industry partners. They will also benefit from new innovation habitats designed to unlock student creativity, promote new lean and open innovation models, stimulating knowledge transfer and industry partner engagement, and kick-start their own companies.
This training and research ecosystem will be a catalyst for new state of the art technology development, with each research project at the physical/mathematical and life sciences interface driving the development of new molecular technologies, addressing life science bottlenecks and transforming the path of the life sciences towards industry 4.0. The new bespoke innovative training programme will fuse exciting professional/transferable skills courses with world-class translational research, e.g. including a micro-MBA, science communication training at the BBC, industry placements, ideation and commercialisation competitions, hands-on prototyping, and will also provide a framework for responsible research with students being trained on ethical, societal, ecological and economical aspects of their projects. This will take place through a 1-year master course that seamlessly connects with a 3-year PhD research project.

Planned Impact

Addressing UK skills demand: The most important impact of the CDT will be to train a new generation of Chemical Biology PhD graduates (~80) to be future leaders of enterprise, molecular technology innovation and translation for academia and industry. They will be able to embrace the life science's industrialisation thereby filling a vital skills gap in UK industry. These students will be able to bridge the divide between academia/industry and development/application across the physical/mathematical sciences and life sciences, as well as the human-machine interfaces. The technology programme of the CDT will empower our students as serial inventors, not reliant on commercial solutions.
CDT Network-Communication & Engagement: The CDT will shape the landscape by bringing together >160 research groups with leading players from industry, government, tech accelerators, SMEs and CDT affiliates. The CDT is pioneering new collaboration models, from co-located prototyping warehouses through to hackathons-these will redefine industry-academic collaborations and drive technology transfer.
UK plc: The technologies generated by the CDT will produce IP with potential for direct commercial exploitation and will also provide valuable information for healthcare and industry. They will redefine the state of the art with respect to the ability to make, measure, model and manipulate molecular interactions in biological systems across multiple length scales. Coupled with industry 4.0 approaches this will reduce the massive, spiralling cost of product development pipelines. These advances will help establish the molecular engineering rules underlying challenging scientific problems in the life sciences that are currently intractable. The technology advances and the corresponding insight in biology generated will be exploitable in industrial and medical applications, resulting in enhanced capabilities for end-users in biological research, biomarker discovery, diagnostics and drug discovery.
These advances will make a significant contribution to innovation in UK industry, with a 5-10 year timeframe for commercial realisation. e.g. These tools will facilitate the identification of illness in its early stages, minimising permanent damage (10 yrs) and reducing associated healthcare costs. In the context of drug discovery, the ability to fuse the power of AI with molecular technologies that provide insight into the molecular mechanisms of disease, target and biomarker validation and testing for side effects of candidates will radically transform productivity (5-10 yrs). Developments in automation and rapid prototyping will reduce the barrier to entry for new start-ups and turn biology into an information technology driven by data, computation and high-throughput robotics. Technologies such as integrated single cell analysis and label free molecular tracking will be exploitable for clinical diagnostics and drug discovery on shorter time scales (ca.3-5 yrs).
Entrepreneurship & Exploitation: Embedded within the CDT, the DISRUPT tech-accelerator programme will drive and support the creation of a new wave of student-led spin-out vehicles based on student-owned IP.
Wider Community: The outreach, responsible research and communication skill-set of our graduates will strengthen end-user engagement outside their PhD research fields and with the general public. Many technologies developed in the CDT will address societal challenges, and thus will generate significant public interest. Through new initiatives such as the Makerspace the CDT will spearhead new citizen science approaches where the public engage directly in CDT led research by taking part in e.g hackathons. Students will also engage with a wide spectrum of stakeholders, including policy makers, regulatory bodies and end-users. e.g. the Molecular Quarter will ensure the CDT can promote new regulatory frameworks that will promote quick customer and patient access to CDT led breakthroughs.

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S023518/1 01/10/2019 31/03/2028
2285029 Studentship EP/S023518/1 09/07/2019 08/07/2022 Aleksandra Fedosyuk
2272112 Studentship EP/S023518/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 William Michael Browne
2229871 Studentship EP/S023518/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Caroline Koch
2281983 Studentship EP/S023518/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2022 Colin Pilkington
2277959 Studentship EP/S023518/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Jenna Robinson
2277405 Studentship EP/S023518/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Thomas Benjamin Jackson
2282303 Studentship EP/S023518/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2022 Souroprobho Chowdhury
2279895 Studentship EP/S023518/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2022 Alexander Ford
2276796 Studentship EP/S023518/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Anthony Monteza Cabrejos
2277609 Studentship EP/S023518/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Annpreet Sahota
2278928 Studentship EP/S023518/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Michael Gruet
2281778 Studentship EP/S023518/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2022 Giulia Mignini Urdaneta
2284175 Studentship EP/S023518/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2022 Qisi Zhang
2268913 Studentship EP/S023518/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Matthew Allen
2279913 Studentship EP/S023518/1 01/10/2019 31/12/2022 Andreas Hadjimitsis
2284249 Studentship EP/S023518/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2022 Xiaoyi Wang
2278820 Studentship EP/S023518/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Thomas Wells
2279868 Studentship EP/S023518/1 01/10/2019 31/12/2022 Alicia Climent Catala
2282978 Studentship EP/S023518/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2022 Sarah Hassan
2284229 Studentship EP/S023518/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2022 Ammar Ahmed
2281771 Studentship EP/S023518/1 01/10/2019 31/01/2023 Ioannis Ioannou
2278913 Studentship EP/S023518/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Owen Tudor Griffith
2278792 Studentship EP/S023518/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Emily Wright
2277910 Studentship EP/S023518/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Sara Cioccolo
2271938 Studentship EP/S023518/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Shreyas Bhatt
2453527 Studentship EP/S023518/1 03/10/2020 30/09/2023 Yilin Li
2448925 Studentship EP/S023518/1 03/10/2020 30/09/2024 Jake Oliver SAMUEL
2449142 Studentship EP/S023518/1 03/10/2020 30/09/2024 Hannan Maimoun Seyal
2450375 Studentship EP/S023518/1 03/10/2020 30/09/2024 Karen Keyue Zhu
2452468 Studentship EP/S023518/1 03/10/2020 30/09/2023 Gabriela Sachet-Fernandez
2448928 Studentship EP/S023518/1 03/10/2020 30/09/2024 Vincent Saverat
2449938 Studentship EP/S023518/1 03/10/2020 30/09/2024 Oliver Peter Burman
2450387 Studentship EP/S023518/1 03/10/2020 30/09/2024 Charlotte HUDLEROVA
2450247 Studentship EP/S023518/1 03/10/2020 30/09/2024 Thomas Philip Kitto
2450218 Studentship EP/S023518/1 03/10/2020 30/09/2024 Hannah Sophie Cooke
2452491 Studentship EP/S023518/1 03/10/2020 30/09/2023 Aileen Mary Cooney
2452578 Studentship EP/S023518/1 03/10/2020 30/09/2024 Zhili Chen
2451637 Studentship EP/S023518/1 03/10/2020 30/09/2023 Federica Raguseo
2451224 Studentship EP/S023518/1 03/10/2020 30/09/2024 Rachel Ellen HEALY
2452732 Studentship EP/S023518/1 03/10/2020 30/09/2023 Sachi Prem Sharma
2453583 Studentship EP/S023518/1 03/10/2020 30/09/2024 James Zhang
2452692 Studentship EP/S023518/1 03/10/2020 30/09/2024 Diana-Alexandra Tanase
2452500 Studentship EP/S023518/1 03/10/2020 30/09/2023 Lino Prados Martin
2452683 Studentship EP/S023518/1 03/10/2020 30/09/2024 Katherine Anne McPhie
2452588 Studentship EP/S023518/1 03/10/2020 30/09/2024 Beatriz Calle
2453426 Studentship EP/S023518/1 03/10/2020 30/09/2023 Rebecca Jade Thrush
2453516 Studentship EP/S023518/1 20/10/2020 19/10/2023 Fang Fang