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UK invests to strengthen best practice in animal research

13 June 2006

Four UK research centres have been awarded more than £11million to regenerate training in animal research skills for undergraduate, postgraduate and postdoctoral scientists. The integrative mammalian biology Capacity Building Awards were announced today by a unique partnership of public and industry research funders.   

The four awards have been made to two London Universities, Imperial College London and King’s College London, and two jointly led consortiums between the universities of Manchester and Liverpool and the universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde.

Integrative mammalian biology is the study of how genes influence body function and is central to development of new therapeutic approaches to human and animal diseases. A recent survey of UK Higher Education Institutes revealed the emergence of a skills gap in mammalian biology thought to be caused by a decline in animal physiology education. The Capacity Building Awards aim to address this by providing grants that academic centres can use to rebuild their capacity for research training.

The awards were made possible by a unique funding partnership between the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Medical Research Council, the British Pharmacological Society’s Integrative Pharmacology Fund (donors AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer) the Department of Trade and Industry, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), and the Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council (SFC).

The awards' funders believe that UK biomedical research urgently needs scientists who are experts in mammalian biology to translate biological and medical research into treatments for human and animal diseases. The capacity building awards will enable the four centres to offer research and training opportunities in areas including heart disease, cancer, neuroscience, reproduction and metabolism.

Lord Sainsbury of Turville, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Science and Innovation said: "The UK is a world leader in the medical research and it is essential that we train the next generation of researchers in practical animal research skills so that we can maintain our position. I, therefore, welcome this excellent joint partnership of the private and public sectors.

"‘There are huge opportunities in fields such as heart disease and neuroscience for major medical advances, and we need to have a supply of expert researchers to develop treatments for human and animal diseases in the tightly controlled regime for animal experiments which exists in the UK."

ENDS

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 MRC

The Medical Research Council (MRC) is funded by the UK tax-payer. It distributes funding for medical research aimed at improving human health. The research it supports and the scientists it trains meet the needs of the health services, the pharmaceutical and other health-related industries and academia. The MRC has funded work which has led to some of the most significant discoveries and achievements in medicine in the UK. http://www.mrc.ac.uk

About the British Pharmacological Society

The British Pharmacological Society is the UK learned society for the study of drugs and how they affect the body. It has 2,500 members in the UK and overseas, who work in academia, industry, regulatory bodies, health services etc., in pharmacological and clinical pharmacological research and practice. AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer have agree to donate a total of £4 million over four years to the BPS's Integrative Pharmacology Fund, to be used to support in vivo mammalian pharmacology, physiology and toxicology research and education in the UK. http://www.bps.ac.uk

About the Higher Education Funding Council for England

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) distributes public money for teaching and research to universities and colleges. In doing so, it aims to promote high quality education and research, within a financially healthy sector. The Council also plays a key role in ensuring accountability and promoting good practice. In 2004-05, HEFCE will allocate £6 billion in public funds. http://www.hefce.ac.uk

About Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council (SFC)

SFC is a non-departmental public body responsible to – but operating at arm’s length from – the Scottish Executive. It distributes more than £1.5 billion of public funds annually on behalf of the Scottish Executive.  The Council provides financial support for learning and teaching, and research and associated activities in Scotland’s 20 higher education institutions (HEIs). As well as providing financial support for learning and teaching in Scotland’s 43 further education (FE) colleges, the Council also provides resources to enable colleges to offer bursaries to students on non-advanced courses. For further information please visit http://www.sfc.ac.uk

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