University academics lead on research grants worth £7.8 million

Experts in biosciences and politics at the University are leading projects in one of the most ambitious global research programmes ever created.

Worth a total of £225 million, the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) is supporting projects in developing countries over the next four years.

Professor Colin Robinson, Head of the School of Biosciences and Elena Korosteleva, Professor of International Politics in the School of Politics and International Relations are among academics from other UK universities who are joining forces with researchers in developing countries across the world to tackle some of the world’s most serious challenges.

Professor Robinson, working with colleague Professor Mark Smales, will lead a £4.8 million research grant into the establishment of biopharmaceutical and animal vaccine production in Thailand and neighbouring South East Asian countries. It aims to apply world-leading UK expertise to enable these countries to produce their own animal vaccines and biopharmaceutical (protein) drugs.

At the moment, new generation protein medicines – especially anti-cancer drugs – are typically available to only 1-5 per cent of SE Asian patients, purely because of the high cost of imports.  The UK team also includes groups from UCL, Imperial College and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Professor Elena Korosteleva, who is Director (Professional Studies) of the Global Europe Centre was awarded nearly £3 million for The COMPASS project which aims to open up communication with academics in former Soviet states of Azerbaijan, Belarus, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan by setting up hubs of excellence in research in these countries.

She and her research partner, Professor Siddharth Saxena from Cambridge, say this is a research initiative to empower the target countries in research, impact governance and public policy outreach. COMPASS will enable a sea change in the UK’s strategic relationship with the region.

The University of Kent and their Co-Investigators, Cambridge Central Asia Forum (Jesus College) and the Centre for Development Studies, University of Cambridge, have years of experience in collaborating with the region in supporting their research.

It is hoped that building these links will also foster other types of cooperation – economic, political and diplomatic.

Jo Johnson, Minister for Universities and Science, said: ‘The successful projects receiving funding highlight the strength of the UK’s research base and our leadership in helping developing countries tackle some of the greatest global issues of our time.’