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Cambridge Biosciences DTP PhD Programme



The Cambridge Biosciences BBSRC DTP is a PhD programme involving the University of Cambridge, the Babraham Institute, the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) and the Wellcome Sanger Institute. We offer PhD training across the full remit of BBSRC research themes, including frontier bioscience as well as the strategic priority areas: bioscience for sustainable agriculture and food, bioscience for renewable resources and clean growth, & bioscience for an integrated understanding of health.


Key features of our programme are the focus on:

  • interdisciplinary training
  • collaborative training with external partners
  • widening participation to ensure that we recruit talented students from groups who are currently underrepresented in postgraduate Life Sciences research generally and in Cambridge specifically.


All of our students undertake an element of training with an external collaborator, either via an iCASE studentship (Industrial Collaborative Award in Science and Engineering) – a joint project involving academic and external partners – or via a Professional Internship for PhD Students (PIPS). ICASE and PIPS collaborations are popular with both students and external collaborators alike. PIPS placements, which last 3 months and are typically undertaken by students in their 3rd year, allow students to experience a professional working environment that is unrelated to their PhD. Host organizations in turn can benefit from the advanced skills (e.g. in statistics or bioinformatics) that the student has already acquired during their PhD training. Indeed, PIPS placements sometimes lead to an offer of employment post graduation. ICASE projects provide a more direct connection with our researchers, and involve the student carrying out a 4-year research project with both academic and industrial supervisors. The student spends a minimum of 3 months of their project in the external organisation. For SMEs who have not previously engaged in an academic collaboration, an iCASE project can provide an attractive low-cost entry point to initiate longer-term collaborations with our researchers.


We are keen to continually expand our network of collaborations to support our programme. Collaboration can involve commitment to the level of Associate Partnership if the contribution is substantial (e.g. fully funded studentships or access to unique research facilities), but there are also many other forms of collaboration including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Fully funded 4-year studentships (ca £150k per studentship); these could fund a collaborative project with the external organisation and/or be linked to strategic objectives such as capacity building in areas of skills shortage, interdisciplinary research, or widening participation;
  • iCASE collaborative projects: the majority of funding is provided from the UKRI grant with the external collaborator making a contribution towards fees, consumables and/or stipend;
  • Offers of PIPS placements;
  • Sponsorship of events, such as our Annual Symposium, or our PIPS symposium;
  • Offering speakers or Career Panel members at our Annual symposium or PIPS symposium


We have an extensive portfolio of collaborators who have hosted PIPS interns or iCASE students, but we are open to discussion with potential collaborators at any time. Please contact us at if you are interested in being an external collaborator in either of these schemes.