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
E-Mail: WRDTP@leeds.ac.uk

Website: https://www.whiterose-mechanisticbiology-dtp.ac.uk/

Twitter: @BBSRCWhiteRose

LinkedIn: White Rose BBSRC DTP

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: c.m.liddle@leeds.ac.uk

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: c.m.liddle@leeds.ac.uk




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.

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 c.m.liddle@leeds.ac.uk. 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.