Groups move lock, stock and barrel - and sometimes with horses

December 2, 2005

* Manchester University promised an aggressive recruitment campaign this year - and poaching Nigel Scrutton, professor of molecular enzymology, and his large team from Leicester University suggests it was serious.

The university lifted Professor Scrutton along with two other professors, one reader and 36 PhD students and postdoctoral researchers.

Professor Scrutton, who will move into Manchester's Interdisciplinary Biocentre when it is completed next year, was tempted by the opportunity to pursue groundbreaking interdisciplinary science with resources he would not have found elsewhere.

But he would not have moved alone. "It would have been a major stumbling block had it been just me," he said. "We had many grants on which we had joint ownership. More important, we had a personal track record and a common ambition."

But he and his senior colleagues did not expect to lure so many of their younger researchers to Manchester. "Many have gone from one short-term contract to another. We were surprised so many moved," he says. "We lost only one or two staff of 40."

* Moving from Sicily to Bristol has been no small task for Paolo Madeddu, professor of experimental cardiovascular medicine (pictured below with his wife, Constanza Emanueli).

Dr Emanueli, who has her own scientific career to consider, has followed, with three PhD students, three postdoctoral students - and two horses.

"Next week, we are moving part of our equipment from Italy. It was paid for by our grant, so we want it. We haven't finished moving yet.

It takes time. There are moments when you are a bit nervous," Dr Madeddu said.

Bristol University, which has poached a number of entire research teams, has pushed the boat out to attract him, offering to pay stamp duty on a house. "That was very attractive," he said, though he added: "The science is the most important thing."

Buying in his team gives a clear message. "The university really wants to support our research."

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