The Babraham Research Campus receives funding for barrier-busting PhD programme

The Babraham Research Campus receives funding for barrier-busting PhD programme

Key points:

  • Babraham Research Campus Ltd and the Babraham Institute have been awarded funding to support fifteen collaborative PhD projects, with the first five PhD students being recruited to the programme in October 2022.
  • Campus CTP projects combine scientific and industry supervision to train PhD students in breakthrough skills and new technologies to meet needs identified by the commercial sector.
  • Students will be immersed in a unique integration of academic research, bioscience innovation and commercial know-how to equip them for successful careers in academia, industry and the wider bioscience sector.
  • This funding continues the Campus aim in being recognised as “one of the best places in the world for discovery bioscience research and innovation.”

Babraham Research Campus Ltd, which develops and manages the Babraham Research Campus, and the Babraham Institute have secured funding for fifteen PhD studentships from UKRI-BBSRC as part of a Collaborative Training Partnership (CTP). Through a tailored programme of skills training and scientific and industry supervision the partnership will produce a cohort of bioscience researchers equipped with excellent research skills and commercial know-how.

Derek Jones, Chief Executive Officer of Babraham Research Campus Ltd, welcomed the announcement: “The Babraham Research Campus offers a dynamic and supportive community for life scientists and entrepreneurs across academic and commercial research. We are excited to partner with the Babraham Institute and welcome a cohort of students who will be able to benefit from our extensive expertise and receive access to unique, world class academic and commercial training opportunities. This partnership will not only provide an outstanding experience for our students but also support early stage companies by providing access to on-site, talented PhD students and their academic labs. This investment means that from the start of their careers, researchers will bridge both academic and commercial spheres, being influenced by the best of both sectors to create cross-disciplinary, commercially-aware researchers with a unique in-depth appreciation of innovation.”

By developing researchers equipped by exposure to the commercial bioscience sector and academic research the programme addresses the UK Government’s strategy to strengthen the bioeconomy by increasing the number of highly skilled researchers in the sector.

Rolling out over a period of three years, eleven different Institute research groups will host students as they undertake their PhDs in partnership with thirteen Campus companies. Each CTP student will conduct their research within one of the Institute’s three research programmes and spend time working with one of the Campus-based companies. The close location of companies to the Institute will allow students to benefit from a high-degree of interaction with their industrial partner throughout the period of their studentship.

The strengths and synergy between the Institute’s research groups and Campus companies are directed toward understanding fundamental biology that underpins health and disease biology, with a particular focus on ageing, immunology, cell signalling processes, genomics, epigenomics, lipidomics, proteomics and imaging. This is coupled with development of new technologies which transform and empower drug discovery and development.

Students will also shadow early-stage life science ventures as they participate in the Campus’ five-month bioentrepreneurial programme, Accelerate@Babraham, which will provide insight to the spin out/start-up process and an awareness of key commercial knowledge areas.

Dr Simon Cook, Interim Director of the Babraham Institute, commented: “This funding recognises the Institute’s long history of successful collaborations with industry partners, our dedication to supporting PhD students during their studies and our commitment to work with Babraham Research Campus Ltd in the support of innovative early stage bioscience companies. I am excited to be a part of training a generation of researchers who will be primed to produce innovative solutions to human health challenges and pioneer world class scientific discoveries.”

Announcing the £22.5m investment for CTPs from 2022-28, BBSRC executive chair, Professor Melanie Welham said: “With the awards we have announced today BBSRC underlines its commitment to work with industry to support the next generation of bioscience researchers.”

Notes

Press contact
The Babraham Institute: Honor Pollard, Communications Officer, Email: honor.pollard@babraham.ac.uk
The Babraham Research Campus: Sarah Brereton, Director, Limewash, Email: sarah@limewash.co.uk

Image description: Person writing in a notebook

Additional/related resources:
BBSRC announcement: Bio-researchers of the future get £22.5 million boost
News, 16 June 2020 New report recognises Institute’s pivotal contribution to Babraham Research Campus success
News, 12 May 2021 Institute welcomes future vision for the Babraham Research Campus

About the Babraham Institute
The Babraham Institute undertakes world-class life sciences research to generate new knowledge of biological mechanisms underpinning ageing, development and the maintenance of health. Our research focuses on cellular signalling, gene regulation and the impact of epigenetic regulation at different stages of life. By determining how the body reacts to dietary and environmental stimuli and manages microbial and viral interactions, we aim to improve wellbeing and support healthier ageing. The Institute is strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, through Institute Strategic Programme Grants and an Institute Core Capability Grant and also receives funding from other UK research councils, charitable foundations, the EU and medical charities.

About Babraham Research Campus
The Babraham Research Campus is distinct in its co‐location of 60 bioscience companies with the Babraham Institute, a world‐renowned research organisation which receives strategic funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).The aim of the Campus is to support UK bioscience through academic research, but also with facilities and capabilities for early-stage and growing commercial organisations. The Campus provides companies laboratory and office space, networking and collaboration opportunities, together with access to outstanding scientific facilities in an ideal geographical location at the core of the Cambridge cluster.

For more information please visit: www.babraham.com

About BBSRC
The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government. 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, BBSRC invested £451 million in world-class bioscience in 2019-20. 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.

CTP Consortium Partners:
PhoreMost (Associate Partner) has developed a unique phenotypic screening platform (SITESEEKER®) that can identify the best new drug targets and, crucially, how to drug them. The Company's proprietary 'Protein Interference' technology unmasks cryptic druggable sites across the entire human genome and links them to specific phenotypes. Using this platform, PhoreMost is building a pipeline of novel drug discovery programmes aimed at addressing a range of unmet diseases.
CRUK Therapeutic Discovery Laboratories (CRUK TDL) (Associate Partner), the Cancer Research UK in house drug discovery unit, is based at the BRC, the Milner Institute, and the Francis Crick Institute in London. CRUK TDL comprises over 100 staff from industrial and academic backgrounds with the range of skillsets required to transform early ideas for targeting cancer through to clinical Candidate drugs.
Adrestia Therapeutics. Challenging medical problems, such as cardiovascular disease, dementia, cancer and many genetic disorders, are caused by faulty molecular pathways that lead to cellular dysfunction or death. Adrestia are searching for novel therapies that suppress or over-ride these harmful pathways and keep cells healthy; a concept known as synthetic viability.
Alchemab Therapeutics identifies naturally occurring protective antibodies by mining the antibody repertoires of individuals who are resistant to or recovered from disease. The company is developing these antibodies into therapeutic products for broader use in patients who lack this protective response and are suffering from hard-to-treat diseases.
Artios Pharma are developing breakthrough treatments that target DNA Damage Response (DDR) pathways to specifically destroy certain devastating cancers that are difficult to treat.
Empyrean Therapeutics is focused on developing next generation ‘off-the-shelf’ cell therapies to enable global and affordable cures for cancer and rare diseases.
Methuselah Health UK Limited is a drug discovery company founded to study the role of proteome instability in a number of human diseases linked to ageing.
Mission Therapeutics are developing first-in-class therapeutic inhibitors of disease-associated deubiquitylating enzymes (DUBs). They are focusing their efforts on a range of serious disease areas including acute kidney injury (AKI), rare mitochondria diseases, neurodegeneration, and fibrosis.
0 Oppilotech are utilising systems biology and machine learning to build computational models of cells. Their models are utilised to find viable first-in-class drug targets. The company initially focusing on modelling bacteria (E. coli) but are now moving into human systems.
Reflection Therapeutics is creating a first in class treatment for motor neurone disease, looking to protect motor neurons from an overactive immune system, prolonging their function and delaying disease progression.
Shift Bioscience is a pre-clinical drug discovery and development company extending healthy lifespan by targeting the root causes of ageing.
Stemnovate provide compliant organs-on-chip platforms that integrate stem cell research and tissue engineering to provide physiological alternative to cancer lines and animal models for precision drug discovery and screening.
Talisman Therapeutics Ltd is a human stem cell drug discovery company, committed to revolutionising the discovery of treatments for Alzheimer's disease (AD). The Talisman novel human stem cell models of AD provide a transformative platform for rapid and relevant compound identification, significantly accelerating drug discovery.