UK (University of Strathclyde) Thirty-six new studentships in extended PhD programme between Strathclyde and GSK

A total of 36 new studentships are to be created through the extension of a collaborative PhD programme between the University of Strathclyde and pharmaceutical company GSK.

The award-winning programme, which has been running since 2009, has been extended for a further three years of studentship starts, with the overall programme now due to run until 2030. The new investment is worth a total of over £4.0 million from GSK, Strathclyde, and the EPSRC, which is part of UKRI.

Eighteen of the new research studentships will be GSK-based and are supported by direct GSK funding at a total of approximately £2.25M. A further eighteen projects will be conducted at Strathclyde with these arising from a combination of EPSRC ICASE (Industrial Co-operative Awards in Science and Technology) support and direct Strathclyde funding. All thirty-six studentships will have collaborative industrial and academic supervision, and secondment opportunities will be available in both directions.

The extension is further evidence of the success of the programme, which has delivered significant results in research output and professional development. Initially established as a framework for GSK employees to work towards an MPhil/PhD degree through their work-based projects, the collaboration was expanded to introduce large numbers of non-employee PhD cohorts, within either of the GSK or Strathclyde laboratories.

The overall programme has so far seen over 200 participating research students in the fields of Chemistry, DMPK (Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics), Biology, and Biopharmaceuticals. Of these, 58 have been GSK employees, 85 GSK-based Strathclyde PhD students, and 60 Strathclyde-based PhD students. To date, 124 PhD and 8 MPhil degrees have been awarded. From the programmes to date, more than 120 collaborative research papers have been published.

The programme was also the winner of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Industry-Academia Collaboration Award in 2021.

Professor William Kerr, Deputy Associate Principal of Strathclyde and Director of the collaborative programme, said: “We are delighted to have this sustained commitment from GSK to a programme which has had vast mutual benefits for both GSK and for Strathclyde, with appreciable educational, industrial, and economic value.

“The establishment of our rich array of pharma-aligned studentships has resulted from a series of sustained and reciprocally beneficial relationships over a large number of years, and has specifically enhanced the translation of new science to and from the pharma industry, allowing distinctive and ambitious initiatives to be more readily adopted and delivered. It has also led to exceptional levels of productivity, rigour, and creativity from the participating research students. We now look forward to achieving further success with GSK in the years ahead.”

Dr Harry Kelly, GSK Director of the collaborative programme and Visiting Professor at Strathclyde, said: “The significance and reach of the collaboration has gone well beyond the initial aims.  GSK are fully committed to support the continuation of our increasingly successful collaborative partnership with Strathclyde whereby talented research supervisors and students vigorously employ bi-directional knowledge exchange to maximise innovation and impact within GSK, and to the wider healthcare sector.”

The extension of the programme relates specifically to both GSK- and Strathclyde-based PhDs in the areas of Synthetic and Medicinal Chemistry, Process Chemistry, and Chemical Biology, in which all candidates are registered as Strathclyde postgraduate students and engaged in collaborative research challenges.