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9 May, 2007 - 10:44 By News Desk

BBSRC gives boost to researchers to get work off the ground

A funding scheme set up by the BBSRC to help new scientists get their research off the ground has given rise to a study, published in the journal ‘Molecular Microbiology,’ which has identified a new example of cell communication.The research, conducted at the UEA, focused on the Streptomyces coelicolor bacterium due to the complicated developmental cycle of its comparitively large genome, and the bioactive secondary metabolites created during it, which have potent antibiotic and anticancer properties.

The project was funded via a ‘New Investigator Scheme’ grant from the BBSRC, which offers newly qualified scientists investment to get their research off the ground and begin collecting the enormous amount of data required to attract large-scale funding.

Dr Gabriella Kelemen, who lectures at the UEA, where the study was conducted, said: “The scheme was essential to help me start doing research and kick-start my career.

“Funding schemes for research are very compet-itive and require a lot of data.”

The NI scheme, which gave Dr Kelemen the leg up she needed for recruiting other scientists and buying equipment and consumables, has made 230 similar awards worth £52m, including 27 in the East of England, since its inception in 2001.

The scheme was a huge help to Dr Kelemen, who said: “It was great that, because of our successful publishing, we got the front cover and now that gives us the chance to present in international meetings.”

Her team identified a new compartment within the cell, which provides a new example of intracellular communication, signalling a programmed cell death.

Dr Kelemen described the finding as “academically exciting” but the team also highlighted the ability of the species to act as a vehicle for the production of the anti-cancer agents adriamycin and doxorubicin, as well as compounds with strong antibiotic properties, such as vancomycin, which is used as a last line of defence against MRSA.

The BBSRC conducted a survey among the 239 scientists who had been awarded grants through the programme to assess its efficacy.

It found that 97 per cent of participating respondents felt the scheme helped them establish their own lab, while a further 74 per cent thought that the scheme had furthered their careers.


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