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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S024093/1
Title: EPSRC CDT in Sustainable Approaches to Biomedical Science: Responsible and Reproducible Research - SABS:R^3
Principal Investigator: Gavaghan, Professor D
Other Investigators:
Deane, Professor C Pitt-Francis, Dr J M Morris, Professor G M
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
AstraZeneca BenevolentAI Bio Ltd Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre
Cancer Research UK Diamond Light Source e-Therapeutics Plc
Elsevier UK Exscientia Limited F. Hoffmann-La Roche (International)
GE Healthcare Lhasa Limited LifeArc
Lurtis Microsoft Mirada Medical UK
Moffitt Cancer Centre Novo Nordisk Research Centre Oxford Drug Design
Oxford University Press Perspectum Diagnostics SimOmics
UCB Unilever Zegami
Department: SABS CDT
Organisation: University of Oxford
Scheme: Centre for Doctoral Training
Starts: 01 October 2019 Ends: 31 March 2028 Value (£): 5,395,559
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Chemical Biology Medical Imaging
Statistics & Appl. Probability
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
07 Nov 2018 EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training Interview Panel F – November 2018 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Building upon our existing flagship industry-linked EPSRC & MRC CDT in Systems Approaches to Biomedical Science (SABS), the new EPSRC CDT in Sustainable Approaches to Biomedical Science: Responsible and Reproducible Research - SABS:R^3 - will train a further five cohorts, each of 15 students, in cutting-edge systems approaches to biomedical research and, uniquely within the UK, in advanced practices in software engineering. Our renewed goal is to bring about a transformation of the research culture in computational biomedical science.

Computational methods are now at the heart of biomedical research. From the simulation of the behaviour of complex systems, through the design and automation of laboratory experiments, to the analysis of both small and large-scale data, well-engineered software has proved capable of transforming biomedical science. Biomedical science is therefore dependent as never before on research software.

Industries reliant on this continued innovation in biomedical science play a critical role in the UK economy. The biopharmaceutical and medical technology industrial sectors alone generate an annual turnover of over £63 billion and employ 233,000 scientists and staff. In his foreword to the 2017 Life Sciences Industrial Strategy, Sir John Bell noted that, "The global life sciences industry is expected to reach >$2 trillion in gross value by 2023... there are few, if any, sectors more important to support as part of the industrial strategy." The report identifies the need to provide training in skills in "informatics, computational, mathematical and statistics areas" as being of major concern for the life sciences industry.

Over the last 9 years, the existing SABS CDT has been working with its consortium of now 22 industrial and institutional partners to meet these training needs. Over this same period, continued advances in information technology have accelerated the shift in the biomedical research landscape in an increasingly quantitative and predictive direction. As a result, computational and hence software-driven approaches now underpin all aspects of the research pipeline. In spite of this central importance, the development of research software is typically a by-product of the research process, with the research publication being the primary output. Research software is typically not made available to the research community, or even to peer reviewers, and therefore cannot be verified. Vast amounts of research time is lost (usually by PhD students with no formal training in software development) in re-implementing already-existing solutions from the literature. Even if successful, the re-implemented software is again not released to the community, and the cycle repeats. No consideration is made of the huge benefits of model verification, re-use, extension, and maintainability, nor of the implications for the reproducibility of the published research. Progress in biomedical science is thus impeded, with knock-on effects into clinical translation and knowledge transfer into industry.

There is therefore an urgent need for a radically different approach. The SABS:R^3 CDT will build on the existing SABS Programme to equip a new generation of biomedical research scientists with not only the knowledge and methods necessary to take a quantitative and interdisciplinary approach, but also with advanced software engineering skills. By embedding this strong focus on sustainable and open computational methods, together with responsible and reproducible approaches, into all aspects of the new programme, our computationally-literate scientists will be equipped to act as ambassadors to bring about a transformation of biomedical research.

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Organisation Website: http://www.ox.ac.uk