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Manchester wins four new national doctoral training centres

22 Nov 2013

The University of Manchester has been chosen to host four new national Centres for Doctoral Training (CDT) in science and engineering, the Government has announced.

Power networks: one of four Centres for Doctoral Training awarded to Manchester

Universities and Science Minister David Willetts revealed details of how the £350m fund will be used to train more than 3,500 postgraduate students today (Friday).

It is the UK's largest investment in postgraduate training in engineering and physical sciences and will fund more than 70 new centres, including the four at Manchester, across 23 other UK universities. 

The funding – allocated by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) – will target areas vital to economic growth. The four CDTs awarded to The University of Manchester are in ‘power networks’, ‘next generation nuclear’, ‘science and applications of graphene and related nanomaterials’ and ‘regenerative medicine’.

Professor Colin Bailey, Vice-President and Dean of the University’s Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, said: “The University’s strength and breadth of research activity – not only in engineering and the physical sciences but in the medical and life sciences too – was a major contributory factor to Manchester being awarded four national doctoral training centres. Coupled to this is our excellent reputation for collaborative working and our outstanding teaching of postgraduate students. This additional funding will mean we can train more of the UK’s scientists and engineers of the future.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all colleagues and partners who were instrumental in winning these successful bids.” 

The Next Generation Nuclear CDT is a partnership between the Universities of Manchester, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool and Sheffield. Its mission is to develop the next generation of research leaders to support the UK’s present and future strategic nuclear programmes – cleaning up the nuclear legacy, building new nuclear power stations, and defence and security. It will work with all the UK’s major industrial and regulatory stakeholders, including Amec, Areva, AWE, EDF, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the National Nuclear Laboratory, Rolls-Royce, and Sellafield Ltd, and with leading overseas institutions.

Professor Francis Livens, Research Director of the University’s Dalton Nuclear Institute, said: “At such an exciting time for the UK nuclear industry, we are really looking forward to working with all our partners to create the next generation of technical leaders for the sector.”

The Power Networks CDT is committed to reducing CO2 emissions, which requires a fundamental transformation in how power networks are designed, operated and financed. The centre will help ensure future networks support the electrification of energy, especially heat and transport, and encourage greater use of low carbon energy sources. To meet these challenges engineers, scientists, mathematicians, social scientists and business experts have been brought together to solve our future problems in: power network design, operation and management; effect of changing energy demands on networks, and the role of planning, governance and cross-cutting technologies. 

Peter Crossley, Professor of Power Systems in the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, said: “All the team at Manchester and our numerous industrial and commercial sponsors are delighted to be involved in the new EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Power Networks at The University of Manchester. This recognises the long-term strengths of Manchester in research and training related to the transformation of ageing transmission and distribution networks into flexible Smart Grids that will reliably, economically and efficiently transport low carbon electrical energy from generators to consumers. The new CDT will develop graduates into highly trained engineers, scientists, economists and regulators with the skills to engage in research, design and development that will drive UK innovation and prosperity.”  

The CDT in the Science and Applications of Graphene and related Nanomaterials is a partnership between the Universities of Manchester and Lancaster. It will train specialists with the knowledge and skills to manipulate and develop the new two-dimensional materials and work effectively across traditional discipline boundaries. A bespoke programme of courses, laboratory projects, directed independent learning and innovation and commercialisation training will provide the grounding for innovative, interdisciplinary research projects in a broad range of areas, from the fundamental physics and chemistry of graphene and other 2D systems to materials science, characterisation, engineering and life sciences applications. Student research in academic laboratories will be complemented by direct engagement with a network of industrial partners.

Dr Irina Grigorieva, from the School of Physics and Astronomy, said: “We are delighted to be able to offer a new doctoral training programme focused on graphene and related nanomaterials. The new CDT will support the highly successful graphene research at Manchester and Lancaster and train young scientists with a broad range of skills who are needed to ensure that the UK economy benefits fully from the potential of the ‘wonder material’.”

Regenerative Medicine tackles the burgeoning need for therapeutic solutions to the severe ageing, degenerative and injury-related pathologies faced by our society. Our CDT will address the acknowledged shortage in skilled non-clinical and clinical scientists equipped to meet these needs for academia and industry, and to ensure the UK’s future international leadership in the field. We will deliver genuinely multidisciplinary training encompassing bioengineering, nanotechnology and biomaterials, through stem cells, extracellular matrix biology and inflammation, to gene and cell therapies and tissue engineering, alongside clinical translational training supported by the Manchester Academic Health Science Centre.

Professor Cay Kielty, from the University’s Faculty of Life Sciences, said: “This CDT award enables us to exploit Manchester’s unique biomedical strengths to train future Regenerative Medicine experts and thus enhance the health and wealth of the UK.”

Professor Ian Jacobs, Vice-President and Dean of the University’s Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences, added: ”I am delighted by this award for regenerative medicine. It reflects our major initiative, led by Professor Kielty, to build strength in this area from basic to translational and clinical science. It will facilitate a step change in our training capacity which will lead to outstanding research and, in due course, major health impact.”

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, the University’s President and Vice-Chancellor, said: “I am delighted that we have been awarded four major doctoral training centres in areas of high strategic importance for the University. The training of excellent PhD students is a core activity and they are also important contributors to our research.”

Science Minister David Willetts added: “Scientists and engineers are vital to our economy and society; it is their talent and imagination, as well as their knowledge and skills, that inspire innovation and drive growth across a range of sectors, from manufacturing to financial services.”