The award will enhance the University's research capacity across the bio-medical sciences

Exeter wins £1m funding for new initiative in bio-medicine

The University of Exeter has been awarded £1 million by the Wellcome Trust to establish an initiative aimed at advancing our understanding of living systems and the causes of disease.

The Wellcome Trust’s Institutional Strategic Support Fund (ISSF) will greatly enhance the University's capability and capacity in bio-medical data modeling and analysis. It builds upon the successful Biomedical Informatics Hub, previously funded through the Wellcome Trust ISSF.

This award will fund a cohort of Independent Research Fellows to work in the areas of advanced mathematical and statistical modelling, high performance computing and data analytics and multi-modal imaging and image analysis. This will be supported by additional equipment, academic posts, PhD studentships, seed corn funding and a programme of public engagement.

Professor Nick Talbot FRS, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Exeter said: “This is a very prestigious award from the Wellcome Trust and a vote of confidence in our strategy for supporting Wellcome-funded research across the University. The Trust’s ISSF award will enhance our research capacity across the bio-medical sciences, from basic, discovery science to translational health sciences research.”

Speaking about how Wellcome was supporting Exeter’s strategic research priorities, Professor Talbot said "We are currently developing a strategy to investigate how living systems operate, from the molecular level right up to the level of whole animals and plants.  We are investing in a £50m Living Systems Institute on our Streatham Campus that will bring together leading mathematicians, physicists, cell and molecular biologists, biomedical scientists and engineers to understand living organisms and the way in which diseases develop.  The Wellcome Trust ISSF investment is pivotal to this exciting, interdisciplinary strategy.   Furthermore, Wellcome has been one of the principal supporters of our Precision Medicine strategy, which is applying modern genetics and genomics to the diagnosis and treatment of human disease."

The project involves the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, the College of Life and Environmental Sciences, Medical Humanities and the University of Exeter Medical School.

Speaking of the ISSF, Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, said: “Having spent the last year listening to universities across the UK I know that the Institutional Strategic Support Fund is one of our most valued schemes. The scheme is distinctive because it allows universities themselves to identify where money can be most usefully spent in pursuit of their and our strategic objectives ranging from supporting the early careers of researchers to focusing on resources needed to develop really excellent public engagement or investment in cutting edge research."

The ISSF awards offer financial support for universities to enhance institutional strategies for the biomedical sciences. They also provide incentives for institutions to support scientific progress, translation and interdisciplinary collaboration and to encourage greater efficiency, effectiveness and accountability in the stewardship of Wellcome Trust funding.

Date: 29 October 2014

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