Dorothy Hawkins – Dance Your Ph.D.

Dorothy Hawkins

This is something a bit different!

Dorothy Hawkins was short-listed for the 2019 “Dance Your Ph.D.” contest, sponsored by AAAS and Science.

Dorothy explains:

“The idea is to explain your PhD through the medium of dance to a general audience. It was a lot of fun and really made me think about the basic concepts I was researching and how to communicate them visually. I would definitely recommend it both as an outreach programme and a creative project- especially if you enjoy dancing. For my soundtrack I asked everyone I knew/met how they would define a virus which was a really interesting experience and felt like a good way of engaging with the public.”

Here is a link to Dorothy’s amazingly creative and visually stunning dance,

“Modelling a Viral Motor”

Interested in Dance Your Ph.D?

Unfortunately, the deadline for the 2020 competition has gone (in January) but keep your eyes peeled for the next call on the Dance Your Ph.D. website:



White Rose universities receive renewed funding from BBSRC

  • BBSRC funding of £10 million has been awarded to the White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership in Mechanistic Biology and its Strategic Applications
  • Investment part of government announcement on bioscience and Artificial Intelligence
  • Funding will support 150 PhD students over five years

Students look into microscopes

The White Rose universities of Sheffield, Leeds and York have received renewed funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC, a part of UK Research and Innovation).

As a partnership across the three universities, we have received around £10 million from the BBSRC for the Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) in Mechanistic Biology and its Strategic Applications.

The White Rose University Consortium DTP in Mechanistic Biology supports world-class molecular bioscience, as well as strategic research in the areas of food security, bioenergy and industrial biotechnology.

The investment was unveiled by Prime Minister Boris Johnson as part of an announcement focusing on skills in bioscience and Artificial Intelligence.

This significant investment will contribute to supporting around 150 four-year PhD studentships over five years of intakes across Sheffield, Leeds and York, starting in October 2020. During these PhD studentships, each student will also undertake a three-month Professional Internship for PhD Students placement to develop their skills further and to explore possible future career directions.

This White Rose BBSRC DTP programme will offer an exceptional range of research experiences to students, allowing them to contribute to a wide variety of world-class bioscience aligned with BBSRC’s strategic priorities. It will draw on the combined resources of the three universities and our other partners, including the Research Complex at Harwell, the Rosalind Franklin Institute, and FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies, to offer a rich and varied training environment that will equip students for successful and productive careers.

Professor Alan Berry, Director of the White Rose BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership at the University of Leeds, said: “We are looking forward to training the next generation of biological scientists to produce fundamental advances that will underpin future health and prosperity.

“The combined universities have exceptionally strong and well-balanced research across the breadth of BBSRC-relevant research. This provides a superb environment for students to achieve their full potential.”

Aligned with BBSRC strategy, the White Rose DTP will train researchers undertaking projects in bioscience for sustainable agriculture and food, bioscience for renewable resources and clean growth, and advancing frontiers of bioscience discovery.

The UKRI-BBSRC DTP scheme is just one element of UKRI’s commitment to support future talent in research and innovation. UKRI as a whole supports around 15,000 doctoral students in UK universities, research institutes and businesses. As part of the National Productivity Investment Fund, a further 1,300 students were supported in industrially-relevant research topics, and in projects utilising artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data.

Additional information

BBSRC is part of UK Research and Innovation, a new body which works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish. They aim to maximise the contribution of each of our component parts, working individually and collectively. They work with their many partners to benefit everyone through knowledge, talent and ideas.


For further information please contact:

Catherine Liddle


White Rose BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership in Mechanistic Biology

Student Education Service | Doctoral College
Faculty of Biological Sciences

7.82 Irene Manton Building | University of Leeds | Leeds LS2 9JT
Tel +44 (0)113 343 6463 | Ext 36463


Twitter: @BBSRCWhiteRose

LinkedIn: White Rose BBSRC DTP

Dr Patricija van Oosten-Hawle – Staff Showcase


I always wanted to become a scientist, from observing microorganisms under the microscope to understanding molecular structures and how the cell works. This is why I studied Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Vienna, Austria before finishing my MSc degree work at the University of Bonn, Germany. This was followed by PhD studies at the VU University in Amsterdam in the laboratory of Prof. Saskia van der Vies and Dr. Marco Siderius, where I focussed on the interplay of the Hsp90 chaperone machinery in stress-responsive MAP kinase signalling pathways in yeast.

In the lab
Dr Patricija van Oosten-Hawle and her DTP student, Sarah Good


In 2008, I joined the lab of Prof. Rick Morimoto at Northwestern University, USA, who is famous for his work on molecular chaperones and who coined the term “Proteostasis”.

There, I gained more expertise in cellular stress response mechanisms and chaperones and how they can be used to protect cells from aggregation-prone and proteotoxic disease proteins. But this time I used a multicellular model organism, the nematode C. elegans: a wiggling worm that can be used to model human diseases and understand molecular processes from a whole-animal perspective!

Using C. elegans, I discovered transcellular chaperone signalling (TCS) – a novel concept in biology that allows tissues to communicate stress with each other and upregulate protective chaperone expression via inter-cellular signalling. These studies resulted in a 2013 publication in Cell.

With my own lab and team at the University of Leeds, Faculty of Biological Sciences, I continue to investigate how intercellular signalling mechanisms coordinate chaperone expression across tissues to protect against protein aggregation and proteotoxicity associated with amyloid diseases. We are still taking advantage of the genetic powerhouse system C. elegans to model these diseases, but now we combine it with the strengths of the Astbury Centre in biochemistry, structural biology and Cryo-EM.


Together with Sarah Good, a DTP student in the van Oosten-Hawle and Radford labs, we use C. elegans to investigate in vivo properties of different human amyloid disease proteins in a multicellular setting.

Prizes and Awards

In 2019, I was awarded the Ferrucio Ritossa Early Career Award by the Cell Stress & Chaperones Society International (CSSI) for my work on transcellular chaperone signalling (van Oosten-Hawle et al., Cell 2013; O’Brien et al., Cell Reports 2018).

Useful Links

DTP student, Sarah Good’s research: Understanding and Controlling Protein Aggregation and Disease: Molecular Mechanisms in vitro and in vivo

Shauni McGregor – International Poster Prize

Shauni McGregor is a plant biologist based at the University of Sheffield. Her PhD, which she began as part of the 2017 cohort, is entitled The Mechanics of Stomatal Function and focuses on plant gas exchange and water use, specifically in grasses and cereals.

Recently, Shauni has gained recognition at an international level. At the Society of Experimental Biology’s Annual Meeting in Seville, Spain, Shauni received an award for the best poster in the Stomatal and Photosynthetic Regulation of Water Use Efficiency session. Generously sponsored by ADC Scientific, the award was judged not only on the poster itself but also on a two-minute ‘flash talk’ delivered during the session to a sizeable audience.

Alongside her PhD, Shauni is a keen science communicator, delivering events to a wide range and audiences throughout Sheffield. This includes a recent event focusing on plant science and food security, which Shauni organised in conjunction with the British Science Association and Sheffield Food Festival.

You can learn more about Shauni’s work or get in touch via her twitter page @shauni_mcgregor



Lewis White – Student Rep

Being a DTP Student Rep can provide much fun and valuable skills development.  Read Lewis White’s journey here:

Lewis began his PhD in 2016.  Supported by his supervisor, Dr Kanchon Dasmahapatra of The University of York, Lewis is researching: Life in extreme environments: adaptation and evolution of African soda lake fishes. 

He volunteered to take on the role of a Student Representative for the White Rose BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) in his first year and enjoyed the role so much that he plans to continue the role into his fourth and final year, from October 2019.  His contribution to the work of the DTP has proved invaluable.  In particular, planning and running an annual Symposium for just under 300 PhD students across the partnership is a huge responsibility that has been capably handled by Lewis, leading the current team of Student Reps (five reps in total).  This has had the advantage of ensuring the Symposium is student-friendly, whilst retaining the highest academic standards.  The detailed project planning has been exemplary, with the added benefit of allowing the DTP Co-ordinator to have an oversight and freeing up her time for other DTP tasks.  The student feedback on DTP training courses presented to the Management Board has positively influenced the development of the training programme for the new academic year.  Lewis’s leadership skills, teamwork, communication skills, commitment and his enthusiastic approach are much appreciated by the DTP Management Board.

Lewis describes his experience as a Student Rep and the skills he has gained in his own words:

“I started my PhD at the University of York in 2016 and chose to study here for three main reasons; the university, the programme and the project. The research excellence and the scientific community at the university and the diverse training the DTP offered very much appealed to me. Most important was the project; I study life in extreme environments, tying together molecular, genetic and developmental biology techniques to answer questions in evolution and the limits of adaptation, whilst attempting to produce an animal model for life in extreme environmental conditions. 

“Having moved to York to start my PhD, the position of Student Rep was very attractive. I believed it would help me to meet people from across my cohort, as well as allowing me to be involved in the organisation of my programme throughout my time here. Leading meetings with my fellow DTP students in York and relaying their feedback to the management board was a great way for me to actively engage in the running of the DTP whilst hopefully promoting positive changes for current and future students. Through this process I have become a much better communicator to different audiences and have expanded my network, which has already been useful for my current research and potentially for my future career.

Lewis (left) and fellow Student Reps working hard on the 2019 Symposium

“One of my first acts as Student Rep was the suggestion that the annual Symposia be student led. In 2017 I led a group of student volunteers from across the DTP in organising the Symposium. Myself and my team selected speakers, designed the programme for the day and did everything required to make the day a success. Due to the positive feedback received, the annual symposium has remained student led and I have been lucky enough to aid others in organising in subsequent years.

“Now entering my 4th year as Student Rep, I think that I have made some positive changes to the DTP as well as gaining much experience outside of my research during my PhD. I believe that during my time as Student Rep there has been continuing involvement from the student cohort and increased amount of feedback on training and events. This has been very useful in streamlining training and improving it for future years. I have been active in my role as Student Rep and hope that my continued presence in the position has encouraged other students to talk to me freely of their concerns.

“I have really enjoyed learning about how the DTP is managed and know that I have picked up many skills in group management, facilitating discussions amongst groups of people and event organisation. Being a Student Rep has been a very good parallel to my academic studies and taught me many skills that would be useful in both academic and non-academic career paths.”

Lewis and the other Student Reps do an excellent job in representing student views and in supporting the work of the DTP.

We will have a couple of vacancies for Student Reps in January 2019. 

If you think you would be interested, please contact the DTP Co-ordinator for a no-obligation chat:

Email:  Or, if you know the Student Reps yourself, feel free to contact them directly.

Enterprising Year 2s!

Check out the pics of our Year 2s putting enterprise learning into action – creating translational pathways from product idea to market – and presenting innovative solutions!

Planning the transitional route to market

The course was delivered by Nessa Carey of Carey International Impact Training on 3rd and 4th October 2019.


We had great feedback.  Here’s what one of our students had to say:

“I just wanted to say how impressed I was with the enterprise event over the last couple days. I really really enjoyed it and it exceeded my expectations.”

Spaceship solutions

More student comments:

“Highly interactive and engaging.”

“It left me excited about business and science and the translatability between the two.”

“I learnt a lot of things I didn’t know before.”

And finally:

“I feel everything I have learnt, despite being directed at industry/business will be relatable to my academic work.”

“I can see how I can use these skills in the future.”

i-CASE 2020 entry competition

The competition for entry for i-CASE projects within the White Rose BBSRC DTP is now open.

Academic staff can apply for a CASE project to fit into the recruitment cycle for student entry in October 2020.

The deadline for applications is Monday 30th September 2019 (12 noon).

What are i-CASE studentships?

i-CASE studentships (formerly known as ‘Collaborative Awards in Science and Engineering’) are collaborative training grants (from the BBSRC) that provide students with a first-rate, challenging research training experience, allowing top quality bioscience graduates to undertake research, leading to a PhD, within the context of a mutually beneficial research collaboration between academic and partner organisations. In addition to experience of an industrial research environment, the student should receive business-related training, for example, in project-management, business strategy, and/or finance.

CASE studentships are awarded as part of the BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs).

NOTE: As part of the DTP3 funding round, the White Rose BBSRC DTP has applied for further CASE studentships to start in October 2020, as we value these high-quality industrial collaborations.  At the time of writing, we do not yet know how many CASE studentships we will have available.  (The BBSRC DTP3 funding decision, including CASE studentships, is expected early to mid-October 2019).  We are calling for project proposals in anticipation so that CASE studentships will fit into the normal student recruitment and selection process, as in previous years.

How to apply

This stage of the competition is for CASE project proposals from academic staff.  Successful projects will then be advertised for student applications as part of the normal recruitement cycle.

Please read the Guidance Notes carefully before completing the forms.

Download CASE Guidance Notes HERE

Download CASE Form A HERE

Download CASE Form B HERE

Submit completed Forms A and B to Catherine Liddle, DTP via email:

The deadline for applications is Monday 30th September 2019 (12 noon).

in vivo skills funding call 2019

Deadline: applications must be received by midnight Friday 28th June 2019.

Who can apply?

This call for applications is to the primary supervisors of 2018 entry White Rose BBSRC DTP students, as well as those who have students starting in 2019.

These awards can only be used for projects in whole, living protected animals.  Other species, such as insects, are not eligible for use of these funds.

Projects should train the student in the use of advanced integrative in vivo skills.

You may only apply once.

In scope:

Research skills training where a major component of the work involves developing and applying sophisticated physiological, immunological, pharmacological, behavioural observation or experimentation in whole, living protected animals (as defined in the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986) in order to understand normal and abnormal biological / psychological mechanisms. Research projects must provide significant hands-on in vivo skills training, including (but not limited to): surgical and pre-clinical skills, complex experiments, novel imaging technologies and/or other innovative techniques.

Out of scope:

Research training which is predominantly focused on the generation of transgenic lines; model systems lacking clear novelty; or the use of animals primarily as sources of DNA, cells, tissues or biological fluids, are not included in the priority area.

Further details from the BBSRC are available HERE

How much? 

This is the final round for DTP2 and our remaining budget is only £20k in total.  We are therefore only accepting bids for £5k each.  We will make 4 awards @ £5k each.

How to apply? 

Deadline: applications must be received by midnight Friday 28th June 2019.

Send completed applications via email to Catherine Liddle, DTP Co-ordinator:




Student Showcase: Rebecca Hall

Rebecca Hall began her PhD as part of the DTP 2015/16 cohort at the University of York. Her project title is: The microbiome of the tsetse.

She has presented her work at numerous local and national events to universal acclaim. Within the department at York she has won KM Stott Prizes for both her 1st year poster presentation and her final year talk as well as a Science Faculty Prize for PhD Spotlight competition at YorkTalks. She also won a White Rose BBSRC DTP prize for the best final year talk.

At a national level, she was placed third in the Sir Howard Dalton Young Microbiologist of the Year awards in 2017 and is the Communications Representative for the Microbiology Society’s Early Career Microbiologists’ Forum. She has successfully reached the final of the York three-minute thesis competition, the final of which takes place as part of the 2019 York Festival of Ideas.

A link to Rebecca’s paper, A Tale of Three Species: Adaptation of Sodalis glossinidius to Tsetse Biology, Wigglesworthia Metabolism, and Host Diet, Rebecca J. Hall, Lindsey A. Flanagan, Michael J. Bottery, Vicki Springthorpe, Stephen Thorpe, Alistair C. Darby, A. Jamie Wood, Gavin H. Thomas, DOI: 10.1128/mBio.02106-18, is here.

Rebecca Hall – Prize Winner

Rebecca Hall began her PhD as part of the DTP 2015/16 cohort at the University of York. Her project title is: The microbiome of the tsetse.

She has presented her work at numerous local and national events to universal acclaim. Within the department at York she has won KM Stott Prizes for both her 1st year poster presentation and her final year talk as well as a Science Faculty Prize for PhD Spotlight competition at YorkTalks. She also won a White Rose BBSRC DTP prize for the best final year talk- see photo with Professor Alan Berry, White Rose BBSRC DTP Chair.

At a national level, she was placed third in the Sir Howard Dalton Young Microbiologist of the Year awards in 2017 and is the Communications Representative for the Microbiology Society’s Early Career Microbiologists’ Forum. She has successfully reached the final of the York three-minute thesis competition, the final of which takes place as part of the 2019 York Festival of Ideas.

A link to Rebecca’s paper, A Tale of Three Species: Adaptation of Sodalis glossinidius to Tsetse Biology, Wigglesworthia Metabolism, and Host DietRebecca J. HallLindsey A. FlanaganMichael J. BotteryVicki SpringthorpeStephen ThorpeAlistair C. DarbyA. Jamie WoodGavin H. Thomas, DOI: 10.1128/mBio.02106-18

2018 Symposium Successes!

Our latest White Rose BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) Symposium was held in December 2018, hosted by The University of Sheffield.


Congratulations to our student reps for leading the organisation of our successful 2018 Symposium.


Our wonderful student reps from across the partnership who did a brilliant job organising the 2018 Symposium.  From L to R: Milena von und zur Muhlen (Sheffield), Nathaniel Holman (York), Lewis White (York) Alice Thomas (York), Ben Stevenson (Sheffield), Michaela Agapiou (Leeds), Amber Shun-Shion (Sheffield), Stella Christou (Sheffield), Sarah Good (Leeds), Lukas Jasaitis (Sheffield), Julia Morris (Sheffield).

Rebecca Hall (York) receiving the prize for Best Final Year Talk from Prof Alan Berry (Chair of the White Rose BBSRC DTP)

Harriet Knafler (Sheffield) receiving her Poster Prize from Prof Alan Berry (Chair, White Rose BBSRC DTP)

Alexandra Males (York) being presented with the Best Poster Teaser prize by Prof Alan Berry (Chair, White Rose BBSRC DTP)











Andrew Stone, University of York – Prize for Best Third Year Poster – with Prof Alan Berry, Chair of the BBSRC DTP in Mechanistic Biology







Women of Achievement 2018: Dr Katie Field

Highlighting the accomplishments of Dr Katie Field

Dr Katie Field is a supervisor at the University of Leeds – an example of the high calibre staff supporting our PhD students within the White Rose BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership. 

Dr Field, an Associate Professor in the School of Biology, is a superb scientist with extraordinary capacity for interdisciplinary innovation and has internationally-recognised expertise in symbioses between plants and fungi.

Katie was awarded the Philip Leverhulme Prize in Biological Sciences in 2017 for her research on the diversity and evolution of plant-fungal symbioses. These prestigious prizes recognise the achievement of outstanding researchers, whose work has already attracted international recognition and whose future career is exceptionally promising.

Katie’s BBSRC Translational (David Phillips) Fellowship (2016-2021) for research into the interactions between crops, fungi and CO2 is, to date, the only one to have been awarded.

Katie actively contributes to the work of learned societies and journals, sitting on the editorial board for Functional Ecology and as chair for the Plant Environmental Physiology Special Interest Group, which spans both the British Ecological Society and the Society for Experimental Biology.

The Women of Achievement Awards recognise the significant contribution and impact women at the University are making across our institution and beyond.

Held for the fifth time last year, the Awards are a key part of the University’s Leeds Gender Framework. They are integral to our commitment to further promote and accelerate gender equality, support the career development of talented women in all areas of the organisation, and provide high-visible role models that will inspire others to develop and thrive.

The outstanding achievements of 15 female colleagues and students were recognised at the 2018 Women of Achievement Awards.

They celebrate the significant contributions and impact the winners have made across Leeds University and beyond. The women receiving awards were all nominated by their peers, and represent academic and professional staff, as well as students, and are drawn from across the University.

They all share a common commitment to excellence and have performed outstandingly in their fields, whether this be in research, student education or student experience, scholarship, leadership of key University initiatives, or supporting administrative and technical activities.


New website launched

We are delighted to announce that we have a new-look website for our White Rose DTP in Mechanistic Biology. Please can our students take the time to review their project pages and send updated bios/project info to Catherine Liddle at We would welcome feedback and your suggestions, please also send this to Catherine Liddle.

Advice on how to transition from PhD to Senior Lecturer

See the following link for advice from Helen Coleman, who is a senior lecturer in cancer epidemiology at the Centre for Public Health at Queen’s University Belfast.

Career advice for students considering a career in academia

While you are on the Times Higher Education website, it is worth browsing as you will find plenty of advice, blogs etc of relevance.  You will need to register before you can read any articles.

Dragon’s Den Winning Teams

Our second year students worked together in cross-institutional teams to develop business ideas, which they presented to a panel of expert innovation and industry ‘Dragons’ at the Fera Training Day. There were moments of sheer brilliance, fun and a little bit of terror when faced with the Dragon’s questions. The Dragons were impressed with the students’ research into the commercial aspects of their business idea and it was difficult to choose a winner but after much discussion the Dragons were able to select the winning and runner-up teams.

Here are the teams receiving their prize from our External Advisory Board member Rose Maciewicz, VP Strategy Respiratory and Inflammation iMed at AstraZeneca:

2017 Dragons Den winning team:
Philip Kirk, Leeds
Sarah Flannery, Sheffield
Paul Bond, York
Oliver Prosser, Leeds
Matt Chadwick, Leeds

2017 Dragons Den runner up team:
Marcus Holt, Leeds
Jenny Hayes, York
Tom Burns, Sheffield
Oliver Herd, York
Sarah Good, Leeds

Prizes galore at our DTP Research Symposium in York

The White Rose BBSRC DTP Research Symposium was held at the University of York on 15th Dec 2017 and showcased the work of our third year and final year students. This was organised by a committee of our DTP students, led by York student Lewis White, and was a great success.

Rose thanking the excellent Student Organising Committee with chocolates . . .

We would like to congratulate all the students for their high quality presentations and posters, which were very well received by the symposium delegates. The winners of the presentation and poster competitions were very well deserved and had to fight off stiff competition from their fellow students.

Here are all the winners receiving their prize from our External Advisory Board member Rose Maciewicz, VP Strategy Respiratory and Inflammation iMed at AstraZeneca:

Best research talk:
Giovanna Pesante, York

Best PIPS talk:
Jordan Talbot, Sheffield

Best Poster teaser talk:
Joseph Ward, Leeds

Best 4th year Poster:
Caitlin McQueen, York

Best 3rd year Poster:
Emma Stewart, York

Job advice from Sarah Blackford

See Sarah’s post on the importance of your personal network when looking for a job:

More info

She regularly adds new posts here:

More info

All our third year DTP students have the opportunity to attend a career planning session with Sarah Blackford at the Fera Training Day on 20th Nov 2017.  Sarah is an academic career consultant with a background in bioscience research and scientific publishing. Qualified with a master’s degree in career education and guidance, Sarah has over 15 years’ experience of delivering  specialised career support to PhD students and early career researchers in the form of career development workshops and one-to-one coaching. Her workshops, which are based on her book, “Career planning for research bioscientists”, include career issues such as self-awareness, how to make informed career choices, the job market and finding opportunities outside of academia, networking and communication, CV writing and successful interview technique.  Sarah believes that effective personal career development lies at the heart of a successful and fulfilling career. 

DTP Newsletter – run by students for our students

Our DTP students have formed an editorial team to produce a DTP Newsletter as a way of improving the communication and networking between our three universities.  The Editor in Chief Caitlin McQueen says:

‘We hope that this newsletter will help build friendships throughout the three universities to achieve a real sense of support and involvement outside of the arranged sessions we attend during the year.

The really exciting part about this newsletter is that it is completely student run- this means that if you have something that you want to talk about, or a suggestion for a future section/recurring article, you have the ability to do so! I really think this newsletter has the potential to get us all helping each other in labs, sharing techniques and woes, but also to get everyone involved in our “other lives” not quite so freely shared with each other- so if you’re fundraising for charity, wanting some support for your band, or your sports team, please use this opportunity to get us all supporting you!

In our first issue we will be talking to some PIPs survivors to get some advice and inspiration for potential placements, we will have some scientific features articles from the cohort and a feature on the recent second year visit to the Research Complex at Harwell in Oxford. We will also be saying goodbye to our first round of PhD students and will be catching up with a few to see what they have lined up post thesis submission’

You can read the first issue of the Newsletter here:

DTP Newsletter issue 1

The second issue of the Newsletter is currently in production.  Please look out for requests from the Editorial Team – all help gratefully received!

Research Symposium 2016

The second White Rose BBSRC DTP Research Symposium was held at the University of Leeds on 16th Dec 2016.  This research-focused event gave our final year students the opportunity to present their findings to over 160 DTP students and supervisors.  There was a great variety of research on display, with excellent talks and posters from students from Leeds, Sheffield and York.  


There was a prize for best oral presentation and best poster, many congratulations to our prize-winning students:

Best presentation:  Alex Evans, Leeds (supervised by Graham Askew and Ning Qin)

Best poster:  Bryony Cotterell, Sheffield (supervised by Simon Foster and Simon Foster)

Here are the winners receiving their prizes from the DTP Academic Lead, Prof Alan Berry:






New DTP Newsletter – Run by students for students

A new student-led DTP Newsletter will be launched shortly.  Please look out for invitations from the editorial team to submit your own news items. The Newsletter will contain useful information directly relevant to yourselves including scientific features, interviews, information about PIPS and future careers as well as news items from your fellow DTP students.

Prize winning DTP Students

The White Rose BBSRC DTP Research Symposium was held at the University of Leeds on 15th Dec 2015 and showcased the work of our final year students.

We would like to congratulate all the students for their high quality 3 min thesis presentations and posters.  The winners of the 3MT and poster competitions were very well deserved and had to fight off stiff competition from their fellow students.  Here are all the winners receiving their prize from Robert Hardwick, BBSRC:

Bob Schiffrin, University of Leeds. Symposium 3MT competition winning student.

Keir Bailey, University of York. Double Symposium 3MT and Poster competition winning student.

Nathan Garnham, University of Sheffield. Symposium Poster competition winning student.

Prize winning DTP students

The White Rose BBSRC DTP Research Symposium was held at the University of Leeds on 15th Dec 2015 and showcased the work of our final year students.

We would like to congratulate all the students for their high quality 3 min thesis presentations and posters.  The winners of the 3MT and poster competitions were very well deserved and had to fight off stiff competition from their fellow students.

Here are all the winners receiving their prize from Dr Robert Hardwick, Senior Innovation and Skills Manager at BBSRC:

Bob Schiffrin, University of Leeds. Symposium 3MT competition.








Keir Bailey, University of York. Symposium 3MT and Poster competition.

Nathan Garnham, University of York. Symposium Poster competition.


White Rose Brussels Office launched

The White Rose University Consortium is delighted to announce the launch of the White Rose Brussels Office. The office will work with key stakeholders on areas of research excellence supported by EU funding and which align with current EU research priorities. The office will also spot areas of strategic importance as well as strengthening name recognition of the three universities.

The launch events, attended by key members of the European Commission as well as international business and research agencies, have focussed on key areas of global research that Leeds, Sheffield and York excel in – sustainability, food security and health and wellbeing.

Speaking about the launch, Professor Koen Lamberts, the University of York’s Vice Chancellor and President, said:

“The Brussels Office will do a great job for the University of York – and its partners in Leeds and Sheffield – in positioning us for research funding and opportunities for our students in Europe. The office will work hard to promote the tremendous knowledge economy of Yorkshire.”

Professor Sir Keith Burnett CBE FRA, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, commented:

“The University of Sheffield’s world-class research has pioneered new approaches in areas such as advanced manufacturing, food sustainability and security, and integrated health and social care. Much of this is being achieved with our international partners, particularly in Europe.

“The White Rose University Consortium’s new Brussels office will support our long-term strategic goals to undertake internationally-leading scholarship which delivers genuine benefits to society, including improved health, economic growth and a deeper understanding of our world.”

Sir Alan Langlands, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds, said:

“Ensuring we align our world-leading research with current EU priorities is vital. This office will not only raise the profile of the White Rose university consortium, but also enable us to demonstrate the exceptional breadth of our research, its real-world impact, and how we are investing in cutting-edge facilities to help tackle some of the world’s greatest challenges.”

New Programme Director for White Rose DTP

We are delighted to welcome Prof Alan Berry as the new Programme Director for the White Rose DTP.  Prof Berry brings a wealth of experience to the DTP in his roles as Director of the Graduate School and Programme Director of the Wellcome Trust PhD Programme  – ‘The Molecular Basis of Biological Mechanisms’.

Alan is looking forward to working with the DTP students and their supervisors across the universities of Leeds, York and Sheffield.

Alan’s research spans a wide range of interests in synthetic biology and its applications in generating novel proteins and enzymes using rational design and directed evolution.  Further details can be found here.

University of Leeds announces £17m Astbury BioStructure Laboratory

The new facility will provide the University’s internationally renowned Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology with instruments for Electron Microscopy and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance that are competitive with the very best in the world.

Professor Sheena Radford FRS, Director of the Astbury Centre, said: “The biomedical challenges we face today include complex disorders associated with ageing, cancer, lifestyle and drug resistance. To develop new therapies for these diseases, we need to understand biological structures at a molecular level and this investment will keep Leeds at the forefront of this science.”

The funding, approved by the Council of the University of Leeds, will pay for two powerful 300 kilovolt (kV) electron microscopes (EM) that will give researchers new insights into the structure of healthy and diseased cells, and how pathogens like viruses and bacteria attack them. The new microscopes will also allow researchers to solve the structures of individual molecules and the complexes they make in unprecedented detail.

The University will also fund a new, ultra-sensitive 950 megahertz (MHz) nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometer which can reveal how biological structures move and interact in real time. This is essential to understand healthy cells and how they malfunction in disease. The new instrumentation will also provide researchers with insights into how to design new drug molecules to target complex health challenges such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and antimicrobial resistance.

The new equipment will be housed in fully refurbished facilities alongside existing 120kV and 200kV EMs, and 500, 600 and 750 MHz NMR machines.  The existing machines have been purchased and systematically upgraded over the years through a combination of Leeds and Wellcome Trust funding. Work to develop the new BioStructure Laboratory will start immediately.

Professor Radford said: “Structural methods have revolutionised our understanding of biology and our ability to modify it to treat disease, and will continue to do so. Such methods are at the very heart of our centre’s vision of understanding life in molecular detail. The true power of structural biology comes from the integration of electron microscopy and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy with X-ray crystallography and other biochemical and cell biological approaches.”

“Major investments have been made in X-ray crystallography across Europe, such as the UK’s Diamond Light Source, but greater investment in electron microscopy and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy is also required. Applied in combination, these structural methods provide unique insights into the structure and dynamics of even the most complex biological and biomedical systems. This latest investment in Leeds will ensure that we become one of the best resourced centres for instrumentation in structural biology in the world. We are immensely grateful to the University Council for backing the Astbury Centre in this way.”

Professor John Ladbury, Dean of the Faculty of Biological Sciences at the University of Leeds and a recent recruit from the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, said: “I am impressed by the University’s vision and commitment to growth. The new investments mean that we will be able to build on the existing scientific excellence in the Astbury Centre by making a number of new senior appointments to the BioStructure Laboratory, in addition to our biggest ever academic fellowship recruitment drive and schemes to increase PhD Student recruitment.”

The Centre has been well supported by funding agencies, other universities and industrial partners over the 16 years since it was formally constituted, and has a grant portfolio of £50 million. Current funders include the Wellcome Trust, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the European Research Council (ERC), British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Yorkshire Cancer Research, and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Professor Ladbury added: “This investment by the University acknowledges the longstanding support from our funders for the great science in the Astbury Centre and underlines our commitment to working closely with our funders and partners into the future”.


We are delighted to welcome Dr Clare Green, who has taken up the post of White Rose BBSRC DTP Manager.  The role involves development and management of the DTP to ensure the establishment of an intellectually-rigorous and world-leading collaborative research and training environment.  Clare is looking forward to working with the DTP students and their supervisors across the universities of Leeds, York and Sheffield.

Previously Clare worked as an Innovation Manager at the University of Leeds in the Stratified Medicine Hub and Medical Technologies Knowledge and Innovation Centre (IKC).  The roles involved bringing businesses together with world-class experts and healthcare professionals to accelerate the commercial development of new healthcare products as well as supporting students and researchers to achieve greater impact and excellence in their research.

Clare previously gained over 14 years experience in both a global healthcare company and medical device SME, providing research and product development services in medical devices, biomaterials, tissue engineering and related health technologies.


£11 million training scheme for biological scientists

The universities of Leeds, York and Sheffield, working together under the auspices of the White Rose University Consortium, will host an £11 million Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) that will fund 164 PhD research projects over the next five years.

Research will span three main areas of strength for Yorkshire’s research community: agriculture and food security; world class underpinning bioscience; and industrial biotechnology and bioenergy.

The investment is part of £125 million funding for doctoral training announced by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) today (October 3).

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “The UK punches far beyond its weight in science and innovation globally, which is a credit to our talented scientists and first-class universities. This new funding will safeguard Britain’s status as a world leader in life sciences and agricultural technology.”

Our CEO Dr Julian White,  said: “We need a new generation of bioscientists to tackle major challenges such as food security, reducing dependence on fossil fuels and improving healthcare. The research this partnership is making possible is likely to have a significant impact on all of our lives and will mean Yorkshire’s universities continue to be global leaders in biological science.”

Professor Michelle Peckham, who led the bid at the University of Leeds, said: “This funding builds on the strategic partnership between the universities of Leeds, York and Sheffield in the biological sciences and confirms the region’s key role in training scientists in this vital area.”

The universities will immediately begin recruiting PhD students for the first year of the new DTP, which is an extension of an already successful doctoral training program at the White Rose Universities.

Students will start their projects in October 2015. In addition to 110 BBSRC-funded studentships across the key themes, the three universities and the White Rose Consortium will provide 54 studentships.

Professor Peckham said: “Our students will be joining a really exciting collaboration. We really focus on building a community of researchers, with training days across the three universities, social events and opportunities to exchange ideas and expertise.”

The Government’s Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) and the Research Complex at Harwell (RCAH) are also partners in the program and will be involved in some of the research projects.

A distinctive feature of the White Rose Mechanistic Biology DTP will be a focus on giving students skills training beyond academic research. For instance, all students will take part in the Professional Internships for PhD Students (PIPS) scheme, which requires them to do at least three months’ work in an organisation not directly related to their research. Past PIPS partners include the British Antarctic Survey, the Alzheimer’s Society and Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Professor Ian Graham, Head of Biology at York, said “This award recognises the world class postgraduate research and training that we carry out in partnership with our colleagues in Leeds and Sheffield.”
Professor Simon Foster, of the University of Sheffield’s Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, said: “The renewed funding of the White Rose DTP is excellent news as it provides the training for the next generation of life scientists. Young researchers underpin advances across all aspects of our science portfolio.”
Further information

Contact Chris Bunting, Senior Press Officer, University of Leeds; phone: +44 113 343 2049 or email

Fera Sandpit Leads to Co-funded Studentships

At the beginning of the summer academics from the White Rose Universities met with Fera scientists for a Sandpit in the area of Detection and Diagnostics for applications in Agrifood and the Environment. The ultimate objective of this event was to identify 2 to 3 project ideas which could be subsequently developed into joint studentships for 2014.
Fera scientists overviewed some of the science challenges facing them in diagnostics and detection across the agrifood chain which was followed by open discussions as to how new links with White Rose academics could lead to solutions. A number of potential projects were identified including,
1. Endocrine disruption – Chemotoxicity of mixture
2. Endocrine disruption – Biosensors
3. Glyphosate binding proteins/Biosensors
4. Rapid field sensors
5. Conjugation free binding libraries for small molecules
6. Plant responses to the rhizosphere
7. Chemical communication
8. Microbial responses to plants and agricultural practice
9. Bioinformatics

We are pleased to announce that a call for studentships addressing these areas and within the remit of the White Rose BBSRC DTP has now been launched. Call guidance and an application form can be found at