Institutional Strategic Support Fund at St Andrews

The ISSF grant is flexible funding from the Wellcome Trust. It is competitive. We have been funded to strengthen research at the interface of chemistry, biology, physics and medicine. St Andrews is too small to support the whole breadth of Biomedical Science. Our overarching goal is to drive our research quality and impact by investing in our distinctive strengths of pathogen biology, cellular and behavioural neuroscience, the interaction with the host immune system and cell biology (rather than creating new areas of activity). We will achieve this by a mixture of directed pre-planned investment and by responding to new ideas.

St Andrews is, perhaps uniquely because of its smaller size, able to identify directed investments in core multi-user facilities that will have impact across a broad range of activities. We have found our inter-disciplinarity has served us very well in building two strong coherent centres of research excellence. Both the BSRC and IBANS are explicitly multidisciplinary and by design they cross departmental boundaries

Objectives

We set four objectives for this two year period:

 
a) Seedcorn

Our rationale will be to direct resources where, based on individual cases, we can see the most impact. We will be flexible in what can be requested; we will consider funding for personnel with support for consumables or multiuser small equipment. Our priorities will be new investigators, projects with a clear demonstration that the funding will lead to grant application, projects where critical data is required to translate an important discovery or where we can see significant leverage by securing external funding for strategic priority areas.

b) Enhancing and developing core multi-user facilities

We have identified two such key core facilities in this period, bioinformatics and biophysics. Bioinformatics builds upon our success from the last round (vide supra) and biophysics will be a core facility for entire BSRC. Bioinformatics (http://bioinformatics.st-andrews.ac.uk/) is a joint Biology and Medicine initiative. The  biophysics facility coupled to investment in protein production facilities and crystallization ensure we remain competitive.

ci) People: bridging

We have an excellent track record of bridging researchers into their own independent careers or between positions This flexible pot of money allows us to fund people not projects

cii) People: Key technologists

For the biophysics centre we will fund a person for two years to set up and establish the facility and continue support for Dr Miguel Pinheiro. Other key core technologists are currently self-sustaining we have reserved some funding in case we need to invest over the two year period.

d) Public engagement

We will use ISSF funds to create a coordinated effort for public engagement across life sciences. We will recruit a person and provide dedicated administrative support.