Inside track...

July 6, 2007

Our occasional column keeps you abreast of developments in the jobs market, from tip-offs and career pointers to news on who's on the move in your field

Lead roles for us trio at new UK institute

Three top education researchers from the US have been lured to the UK to take a leading role in the development of a new Institute for Effective Education, which will eventually employ about 40 academics.

The venture, set up with an £11 million donation to York University, will be led by Robert Slavin, who is leaving his post as director of the Centre for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland to become director of the new institute. He will be joined by two other education professors from Johns Hopkins: Bette Chambers and Nancy Madden, who is also his wife.

Trevor Sheldon, pro vice-chancellor at York, said the three would work with staff drafted in to the institute from a range of disciplines across the university to develop an evidence-based approach to education research. More external recruitment is planned to build a team that will eventually number about 40, he said.

"Our research is going to be very much oriented towards answering questions that teachers, parents and policy-makers want addressed," he said.

"We are not just going to be doing the theoretical stuff. We will be trying to find real answers to questions about what works and what is cost-effective, and how we can reform education in ways that work something that is pretty weak in this country."

Recruiting with world-leading ambitions

A £50 million venture that sees one of the world's biggest pharmaceutical companies working with Scottish medical research is on track to create dozens of new jobs.

The Translational Medicine Research Collaboration (TMRC), which aims to lead the world in developing personalised medicine for a range of serious illnesses, unites Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow universities with Wyeth, Scottish Enterprise and several National Health Service trusts. The collaboration is for an initial five years, expected to be extended for another five.

The TMRC core lab at Dundee University is currently appointing some 40 new staff, from professors to technicians. It is also funding research projects that will enable the partner universities to hire staff in disciplines from proteomics and systems biology to informatics and bioinformatics.

Frank Walsh, executive vice-president of Wyeth Discovery Research said: "Through this first round alone more than 160 scientists across Scotland will be conducting research, the results of which could help drive the development of novel drugs for devastating diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer."

Within a few weeks, the TMRC is expected to seek bids for more funding, likely to be greater than the £8 million first round.

Virtual lab seeks real talent for revolution

Warwick Manufacturing Group is building a team to help create "the mother of all virtual environments" at Warwick University's new digital laboratory.

One of the latest recruits - Alan Chalmers, the Warwick Digital Lab's new professor of visualisation described the £50 million development as "the biggest opportunity and the largest investment in this field in the world for the past five years".

Work at the lab will focus on three main areas: digital manufacturing, which will allow virtual testing of products before they are produced; mass customisation, giving prospective customers the power to stamp their personality on mass-produced products; and digital healthcare, collaborating with Warwick Medical School to develop digital tools to enhance medical diagnosis and create realistic virtual environments for the training of surgeons.

Professor Chalmers came from Bristol University, where he has worked as professor of computer graphics for the past 18 years, after being shown the vision for the digital lab and its research programmes.

"It is incredible, and will revolutionise the way we look at computer visualisation. We have a new building and state-of-the-art equipment, but it is the multidisciplinary approach we will be taking that is so different and exciting," he said.

In addition to Professor Chalmers, the lab has also recruited Darek Ceglarek, an expert in digital simulation from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Sadie Creese, an e'security expert from the global defence firm QinetiQ.

Ten to one chance of good chemistry

The University of Central Lancashire's new School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences believes that it is not only a good work-life balance that creates the best working environment.

Including practising pharmacists among the 17 staff it plans to recruit will keep both academics and students in touch with the "real" world, said Antony D'Emanuele, the school's head. But he believes the main draw for job applicants is the low starting student to staff ratio of ten to one.

£1 million wave hello to marine renewables

A new research centre that aims to harness the power of the waves is hiring four postdoctoral research associates, and announcements of further posts are expected.

Heriot-Watt University and the UHI Millennium Institute have won £1 million from the Scottish Funding Council for a centre in marine renewables. The grant provides for research appointments at Heriot-Watt's Orkney campus and two at UHI's Environmental Research Institute in Thurso.

Jon Side, director of Heriot-Watt's International Centre for Island Technology, said: "We believe that, just as in the 1970s Scotland became a major player in worldwide oil and gas technologies and petroleum industry related research and development, we can similarly lead the way in the emerging marine renewables sector."

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