Drug campaign injects £10m into chemistry PhDs

December 23, 2005

Key universities have won funding for a raft of chemistry PhD studentships in an effort to cultivate a new regiment of cancer-drug designers, writes Anna Fazackerley.

In the wake of chemistry department closures across the country, Cancer Research UK has given five universities a grant to set up training programmes in medicinal chemistry.

CRUK has put £10 million into the project, which will support 60 PhD studentships in the next five years.

The awards have been won by the universities of Cambridge, Newcastle, Edinburgh and St Andrews (jointly), Oxford and Imperial College London.

Alex Markham, chief executive of CRUK, said: "We expect these five new medicinal chemistry training programmes to re-energise the subject of chemistry and highlight how important the medicinal chemists of tomorrow will be in the fight against cancer."

He added: "These programmes will not only result in an expert group of anti-cancer drug designers, they will also encourage collaboration with biologists, pharmacologists and clinicians."

Shankar Balasubramanian, who will lead the project at Cambridge, said:

"These scientists will be working at the hub of a dynamic research enterprise. They will have the opportunity to learn from researchers at the top of fields as diverse as molecular biology through to pharmacology and medical imaging."

Simon Campbell, president of the Royal Society of Chemistry, said: "This programme recognises that chemists are at the heart of multidisciplinary drug discovery teams and that significant investment is required to train the next generation of world-class drug designers."

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