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£77m for life sciences in Scotland

The University of St Andrews is one of six Scottish universities collaborating with the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) to invest £77.4 million to transform biology and life sciences research in Scotland.

The six universities are to pool their research excellence in the new Scottish Universities Life Sciences Alliance (SULSA). Eighteen new research posts and twenty-four support posts will be created at the Universities of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, St Andrews and Strathclyde. An investment of £27 million from SFC and £57 million from the universities will, over five years, attract new academic staff to strengthen this critical research area key to the health and wealth of Scotland.

The initial areas SULSA will strengthen through its collaboration will be: cell biology – the study of the basic unit of life; systems biology – using computers to model groups of molecules, groups of cells and even whole organisms; and translational biology – the application of biological knowledge to develop medicines and other therapies for eventual clinical use.

Roger McClure, Chief Executive of SFC, commented on the award: “Life Sciences is one the jewels in Scotland’s research crown. By pooling their resources the partners in SULSA will be better equipped to face the challenges of global research competition. They will also contribute to Scotland’s health and economy through discoveries and through the critical mass of excellence they can offer to commercial companies in this dynamic sector of Scotland’s economy. “The outcomes of their work will be beneficial to many people in Scotland through the medical and economic benefits which will arise as a consequence of creating a large, integrated research community in life sciences”.

St Andrews is involved mainly in the area of “translational biology” and will make a key appointment of a research star involved in the discovery of novel drug targets and the development of new medicines.

CMBS Director Professor Garry Taylor will represent St Andrews on the SULSA Executive Committee. He said, “The environment of CBMS with its world-class structural biology laboratories, a group of leading microbiologists working at the cutting edge of infection and immunity, and the integration with excellent synthetic chemists, provides a powerful platform for the development of new drugs.¿

St Andrews will also benefit from a £650,000 injection of funds to provide equipment and three support staff to run key facilities of protein production, high throughput screening and protein crystallography. SULSA will also provide postgraduate training in the three initial major themes, giving research students the opportunity to work on projects in collaboration with other Scottish Universities and allowing access to state-of-art facilities.

The collaborative model of pooled research excellence offers a way to address the challenges of remaining internationally leading in an increasingly expensive field by attracting the best researchers to Scotland and by training the brightest students to follow them into the field.

This is the seventh research pool to date to have been awarded funding by the Council. The research pooling initiative was created to encourage research areas across Scottish higher education to pool their resources to benefit from a critical mass in key areas of research, and respond to increasing international competition.

ENDS

Issued by Press Office, University of St Andrews

Contact Gayle Cook, Press Officer on 01334 467227 / 462529, mobile 07900 050 103, or email gec3@st-andrews.ac.uk

Ref: SULSA 020207.doc

View the latest University press releases at http://www.st- andrews.ac.uk

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