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£11M for the next step in bioscience

12 May 2005

Scientists at three universities have today been awarded over £11M for collaborative research in proteomics, the science often described as the next step after the sequencing of the human genome. The funding will be used to develop technological advances in proteomics that could bring practical applications in biology and medicine closer to reality.

Proteomics is the study of the structure and function of the proteins that are coded for by the genome. It is now thought that there are many more proteins than there are human genes and identifying the make up, function and interactions of the proteome is one of the next great challenges for science. A greater understanding of human proteins offers the potential to understand fundamental biological processes to underpin our knowledge of a wide range of illnesses and diseases, such as diabetes, arthritis and cancer and may help to develop possible new drugs.

The funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has been awarded to RASOR-Radical Solutions for Researching the Proteome, a collaboration of the Universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee under the Research Councils’ Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration in Proteomics Technologies initiative. To accompany the grant, funding has also been awarded by BBSRC, EPSRC and the Medical Research Council for a Doctoral Training Centre to train PhD students in proteomics technology research.

RASOR Scientific Director, Professor Walter Kolch of the University of Glasgow, said, “Understanding the human proteome has the potential to help tackle major medical challenges. The research being funded by this grant will help to develop technologies that could bring us closer to understanding how some diseases work and the best way to tackle them.”

BBSRC Chief Executive, Professor Julia Goodfellow, said, “The deciphering of the human genome has highlighted the urgent need to analyse the proteins it expresses and the way they interact. It is estimated that the approximately thirty thousand human genes could give rise to as many as one million different protein functions. Unravelling this complexity is an immense challenge and this research into new technologies will be a major step in furthering our understanding.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

The Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration in Proteomic Technologies was launched in Autumn 2003. It aimed to develop radical solutions to analysing the proteome and drew upon the funding each council received as part of the post genomic and proteomic allocation from the 2002 Spending Review.

RASOR will focus of the following areas:Instrumentation

  • New fractional methodologies
  • Functional analysis of the proteome
  • The clinical interface
  • Integration of genome and proteome data

The funding has been awarded to the following research leaders at the respective institutions:

  • Professor Walter Kolch, University of Glasgow, £5.3M
  • Dr Pat Langridge-Smith, University of Edinburgh, £3.9M
  • Dr Nick Morrice, University of Dundee, £1.5M

The funding provided is divided evenly between BBSRC and EPSRC.

The Doctoral Training Centre (DTC) has been awarded a total of £2.32M, £1.08M from EPSRC, £887,000 from BBSRC and £350,000 from the Medical Research Council.

The DTC will support a total of 20 students, each with a four year studentship, with intakes split over three years (2005, 2006 and 2007). DTCs offer a new style of training, providing a different type of postdoctoral researcher with skill sets appropriate to the needs of modern multidisciplinary research. Each DTC is focused around a coherent multidisciplinary research theme and aims to help develop a critical training mass in a key research area. Students within a centre undertake a four year training programme involving both a significant, challenging and original research project within one relevant research discipline, and a formal, assessable programme of taught coursework, to develop and enhance technical knowledge of other appropriate disciplines as well as broadening skills. The taught training is fully integrated with the research project and typically forms 25% of the overall training package. There is normally a high degree of synergy between the individual student research projects and the training emphasises team working and joint problem solving.

About BBSRC

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £380 million in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life for UK citizens and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors. http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk

About EPSRC

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK's main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. The EPSRC invests more than £500 million a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone's health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC also actively promotes public awareness of science and engineering. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK. http://www.epsrc.ac.uk

About MRC

The Medical Research Council (MRC) is a national organisation funded by the UK tax-payer. Its business is medical research aimed at improving human health; everyone stands to benefit from the outputs. The research it supports and the scientists it trains meet the needs of the health services, the pharmaceutical and other health-related industries and the academic world. MRC has funded work which has led to some of the most significant discoveries and achievements in medicine in the UK. About half of the MRC's expenditure of £500 million is invested in its 40 Institutes, Units and Centres. The remaining half goes in the form of grant support and training awards to individuals and teams in universities and medical schools. http://www.mrc.ac.uk

External contact

Jane Reck, EPSRC Press Officer

tel: 01793 444312

Professor Walter Kolch, IRC-RASOR Scientific Director, University of Glasgow

tel: 0141 330 2500

Dr Andrew Pitt, IRC-RASOR Managing Director, University of Glasgow

tel: 0141 330 2500

Contact

Matt Goode, Head of External Relations

tel: 01793 413299
fax: 01793 413382

Tracey Jewitt, Media Officer

tel: 01793 414694
fax: 01793 413382