Reporter 455, 25 September 2000

Cross-disciplinary teams win vote of confidence

Interdisciplinary collaboration in the life sciences and the humanities has attracted two substantial research council funding packages to Leeds.

Scientists in several departments working on crucial questions in the life sciences have won almost £1.5m from the Medical Research Council, in a co-operative group grant supported by the EPSRC.

Leading the field: Dr John Colyer and Professor Griselda Pollock celebrate landmark funding wins

Biochemists, molecular biologists, physicists and mathematicians are working on an array of projects made possible by the recent completion of the sequence of the human genome, which heralds a new era for biological and medical sciences.

In a separate funding coup, an interdisciplinary group in the fields of fine art, art history, cultural studies, Jewish studies, feminist studies, and architecture and material culture has won £500,000 from the Arts and Humanities Research Board to establish a Centre for Cultural Analysis, Theory and History. It will be directed by Professor Griselda Pollock, and will draw on the ideas about cultural memory and the role of images pioneered by the early 20th-century German-Jewish art historian and cultural philosopher, Aby Warburg.

Dr John Colyer, who headed the successful life sciences grant bid, said: "Exploiting our new knowledge of the genome will lead to effective treatments for deadly diseases and viral infections. It even holds out the possibility of slowing the process of ageing.

"Although we might now have the instruction manual for the human ‘kit’, making sense of these instructions will require us to understand how the parts of the model fit together. We have little more than an inventory of parts. The chapters which define how these parts fit together, are missing."

The award in the humanities was one of only ten granted among 145 bids considered by the funding body.

"The centre’s work will address Jewish civilisation, women’s role in art and culture, postcolonial identities and questions of class and sexuality," said Professor Pollock.

More More information is available:
Document from Dr Colyer
Arts and Humanities Research Board
Medical Research Council

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