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The Universities of Birmingham, Leicester and Nottingham have joined forces to launch a partnership that will train the next generation of leading researchers the skills required to transform our understanding and treatment of disease.

Funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC), the Advanced Inter-disciplinary Models Doctoral Training Partnership (AIM DTP) will train post-graduate students in areas that span cutting-edge research disciplines and connect them with clinical and industrial partners to help translate their research.

Through industry-led training, the students will utilise interdisciplinary methods to develop and interpret novel models to better understand conditions such as metabolic and infectious diseases, cancer, chronic inflammation, respiratory disease, and psychological disorders.

Three other leading UK research organisations - The Mary Lyon Centre, Rosalind Franklin Institute, and the Research Complex at Harwell - will also act as Associate Partners.

AIM DTP’s co-lead Professor Daniel Tennant, of the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research, said: “The timely and effective translation of fundamental research to benefit all patients - regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity or co-morbidities - remains a core goal of medical research.

“This drive depends on the successful discovery and application of new knowledge, and also the development of a new generation of diverse and highly trained researchers with a broad skills toolkit and the ability to work with samples and data derived from multiple disciplines.

“Through multi-institutional supervision and facilities, students in the AIM DTP will develop inter-disciplinary skills and apply cutting edge techniques to probe and model molecular structures and interactions; combine tissue and cell culture with advanced imaging; work with patients and whole organisms; and use advanced data analysis approaches to better understand disease.

“We will promote a positive, supportive and responsible research culture that will nurture students’ enthusiasm and fire their ambition for a variety of career paths in academia, industry, NHS, policy and elsewhere.”

Dr Karen Robinson, Postgraduate Senior Tutor at the University of Nottingham’s School of Medicine, and AIM DTP co-lead, said: “Our three universities will bring together interdisciplinary research excellence across the medical, biological, mathematical, and physical sciences to address some of the most important clinical issues affecting people in the Midlands. Our Associate Partners will provide exceptional training opportunities, allowing the AIM DTP to foster the next generation of leading researchers, and make important discoveries to benefit patients.”

Professor Louise Wain, of the University of Leicester, and AIM DTP co-lead, said: “Universities and industry, from large pharmaceutical companies to small medical technology firms, now work more closely together than ever before to deliver world-leading science from the UK. The AIM DTP will forge new opportunities for students to gain valuable experience of working collaboratively with and within the industrial sector to deliver transformative medical research.”

Professor Fiona Watt, Executive Chair at MRC, said: “We are thrilled to announce our funding for the next generation of MRC PhD researchers. Outstanding research is only possible when we invest in people to conduct that research. Our new awards are student-centred, setting out to increase the diversity of individuals pursuing research careers and providing opportunities for students to widen their horizons during and post-PhD.”

AIM DTP will build on the already successful MRC IMPACT DTP and the partnership will bring together technological approaches at the cutting edge of biological, physical and data science research, supported by outstanding research facilities and evidenced by impactful and transformative research output.

Notes to Editors

  • For interviews with Professor Daniel Tennant please contact Emma McKinney, Media Relations Manager (Health Sciences), University of Birmingham
  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions, and its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 6,500 international students from nearly 150 countries.
  • The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience, and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. Ranked 103rd out of more than 1,000 institutions globally and 18th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings 2022, the University’s state-of-the-art facilities and inclusive and disability sport provision is reflected in its crowning as The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide Sports University of the Year twice in three years, most recently in 2021. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally. Alongside Nottingham Trent University, we lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, a pioneering collaboration which brings together the combined strength and civic missions of Nottingham’s two world-class universities and is working with local communities and partners to aid recovery and renewal following the COVID-19 pandemic
  • The University of Leicester is a leading UK university committed to international excellence through the creation of world changing research and high quality, inspirational teaching. Leicester is consistently one of the most socially inclusive of the UK’s leading universities with a long-standing commitment to providing fairer and equal access to higher education.
  • Our mission is to create a culture of equality and diversity and change lives for the better through transformative research and education. Our core objective is to provide a vibrant, robust, and inclusive research environment that enables high-quality research, delivering health, social, and economic benefits locally and globally. Our exceptional people and their teams are committed to tackling significant global issues and improving the lives of the world’s most disadvantaged people and societies. Together we are delivering knowledge and insights that are helping to change our world. By showcasing this we are hoping to inspire and excite our future students and the experts of tomorrow. We are in the Top 10 UK universities to receive funding to research COVID-19. Our researchers are establishing best practice in managing the care of COVID-19 patients and investigating how to curb the spread of the disease. The long-term effects of COVID-19 are still being discovered. Our academics are investigating how the disease progresses and researching the needs of patients after the initial phase has passed. With the UK’s biggest respiratory health department and world-leading research on ethnic health, we are leading one of the world’s largest studies into the long-term health impacts of COVID-19. Nationally, our health-related research is embedded in the NHS through our partnerships with the NHS trusts in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.