Who got that cash?

June 2, 2006

Success in drawing together a multidisciplinary research team has been crucial in securing nearly £5 million to expand pioneering research in nanoscience, says David Birch , head of Strathclyde University's department of physics.

Professor Birch is leading the project in nanometrology, the measurement of molecules, funded by the Science and Innovation Award.

An understanding of the nature of molecules will have a huge range of applications, but the research team is particularly interested in the potential for "labs on a chip", which could be injected into the human body to monitor, diagnose and treat conditions such as diabetes.

The team includes Strathclyde researchers in physics, chemistry and photonics, and biochemists and clinicians from King's College London, led by John Pickup.

Multidisciplinary research had fallen between funding stools in the past, Professor Birch said, but the climate had now changed.

"There's a recognition by the powers that be that it doesn't have to fit into the old A-level syllabus," he said.

The award is made up of £2.8 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, £1.5 million from the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council and £500,000 institutional support.

The project will be based at Strathclyde's Centre for Molecular Nanometrology, set up last year through collaboration between the university's physicists and chemists. Professor Birch said he believed their success in working together had helped give the project its competitive edge.

"If people are going to invest, they want a stable and receptive environment - and that's something academics sometimes don't think of. If academics don't get on, it's a risky investment."

The award will allow the institutions to recruit at least three lecturers, six research fellows and six PhD students.

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