Biological Sciences

Backing the scientists of the future: Innovative PhD programme wins funding

The School of Biological Sciences has been awarded funding for an innovative science PhD programme by a UK research council.

EASTBIO Students

The University of Edinburgh leads one of 12 UK partnerships awarded funds by BBSRC to support doctoral training for the next generation of UK bioscientists.

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC, a part of UK Research and Innovation) has announced £170m in funding to support 1700 PhD researchers over the next 5 years.

BBSRC’s Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) provide vital training to early career scientists working at the cutting edge of biology and biotechnology.

EASTBIO Partnership

The East of Scotland BioScience (EASTBIO) Doctoral Training Partnership, led by the University of Edinburgh, is one of the successful schemes.

The EASTBIO partnership, one of the three largest UKRI-BBSRC DTPs, provides training for PhD students at the Universities of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and St Andrews.  

This partnership, initially funded in 2012, is now expanding to include the University of Stirling, Scotland’s Rural College, the James Hutton Institute, the Moredun Research Institute, the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC), the Scottish Universities Life Sciences Alliance (SULSA) and the Cool Farm Alliance.

New Studentships

Professor Clare Blackburn, Director of the Graduate School of Biological Sciences

The renewed funding from BBSRC will provide 32 PhD studentships per year beginning in autumn 2020.

Additional funding will be drawn from across the partnership and industry to create a cohort of over 60 students per annum.

EASTBIO will fund and train PhD students across the spectrum of BBSRC research, tackling major challenges facing the planet – food security, the need for renewable resources and clean growth and improving health.

UKRI-BBSRC DTPs also provide professional development training opportunities to enhance the skills of PhD students and develop the world-class, highly skilled workforce the UK needs for its future.

Each of the successful DTPs will also receive Flexible Support Funding, to provide additional opportunities for students within and across cohorts. 

This funding will also be used to encourage under-represented groups of undergraduates to experience research through summer placements, an important step on the pathway to a research career.


We are delighted to continue our partnership with BBSRC.  With this new funding we will develop our state-of-the-art training programme even further, equipping our bioscience PhD students to compete with the best in the world in their future careers.

Professor Clare BlackburnDirector of the Graduate School of Biological Sciences, The University of Edinburgh


 We will use this new partnership as a way to drive improvements in how we support our students’ wellbeing and enable students to join our programme from a diverse range of backgrounds.

Professor Bernadette Connolly, Deputy Lead of the EASTBIO-BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership University of Aberdeen


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