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Training the next generation of UK bioscientists

New £20m investment in the UKRI-BBSRC London Interdisciplinary Doctoral Training Programme
Staff working with mosquitoes in the lab

The London Interdisciplinary Doctoral Training Partnership (LIDo) will provide training for a new generation of bioscientists after being commissioned for a further five years' by the UKRI Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) as part of the 2019 DTP3 competition.

The award from 2020 onwards will fund 190 PhD studentships overall, of which a minimum of 55 are earmarked as industrial collaboration "CASE" studentships. The funding represents an investment of over £20 million in the development of future bioscience researchers.

The LIDo scheme partners include the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) along with University College London, King's College London, Queen Mary University London, Royal Veterinary College, Birkbeck College, plus two new members: Royal Holloway University London and Greenwich University's Natural Resources Institute.

LIDo also welcomes four new "Associate Partners", Unilever, Royal Botanic Garden at Kew, the Food Standards Agency and the Animal and Plant Health Agency. Each Associate partner will be contributing at least three additional studentships as well as providing projects and collaborative opportunities for LIDo students.

LSHTM has been an active member of the prestigious programme since its inception, supported by two consecutive large awards from the BBSRC over the past eight years. The new award will develop the programme further from 2020 through five more annual rounds of PhD student intake.

Along with colleagues from UCL and the other partner institutions, LSHTM’s Professor David Conway and Dr Sam Alsford sit on the Management Group that co-ordinates the programme and helped shape the successful bid for the new award.

Prof Conway said: “This is an outstanding multidisciplinary programme and we’re delighted that it has secured new funding. Here at LSHTM we contribute to LIDo with a focus on biological processes of infectious disease and its causes, as these affect human and animal health directly. This includes molecular and cellular bacteriology, virology, parasitology, and vector biology, as well as genomics and more mathematical and quantitative studies of disease in populations.

“Our researchers look forward to being part of this innovative PhD training in the areas of science prioritised by the BBSRC.”

Around half of the studentships in the next phase of the London Interdisciplinary Doctoral Training Partnership will be for projects jointly supervised in two different LIDo institutions, reflecting the highly collaborative and interdisciplinary training mission of the programme.

LIDo has a particular emphasis on combining biology with computational, materials and physical sciences and provides intensive training in coding for biologists and biology for students with a physical/computational sciences background. The programme emphasises equality and diversity through outreach activities and coaching for minority applicants as well as summer undergraduate placements for students studying at less research-intensive institutions across London and the South East region.

The new award was announced as part of a wider £170 million investment in Doctoral Training Partnerships from BBSRC.

Professor Melanie Welham, BBSRC’s Executive Chair, said: “The success of the UK’s science sector and the consequent benefits to society and the economy relies on great researchers doing great work.

“Our Doctoral Training Partnerships have already supported the training of hundreds of early career scientists working at the cutting edge of biology and biotechnology.

“By continuing to fund, through this significant £170 million investment, vital training of the next generation of researchers we will help ensure that the UK consolidates its position as world-leader in this crucial sector.”