The Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Physical sciences innovation in Chemical Biology for bioindustry and healthcare at the Institute of Chemical Biology (ICB).

What is Chemical Biology?

Watch the first part of the ICB CDT film.


The Institute of Chemical Biology was created in 2003, to enable the development of novel tools and technologies that could be applied to tackle biological challenges at a molecular level. It currently consists of approximately 70 research groups who are all interested in tackling challenges that lie at this interface. The ICB CDT is a doctoral training programme, which forms the heart of the ICB. It aims to train students in the art of multidisciplinary Chemical Biology research, through a combination of taught courses and research, and to empower students to become the future world leaders in Chemical Biology research.

ICB CDT Film - Part 1 from on Vimeo.

Networked Science driving Innovation

The development of novel tools and technologies for studying and manipulating molecular interactions has the potential to transform the healthcare, personal care, agri-science and consumer product sectors. Many of the most exciting research challenges facing these industries require an approach that marries expertise from different disciplines. By pooling knowledge that transcends traditional subject-based research it is possible to make rapid progress in challenging areas of science and technology.

All multidisciplinary research has translational elements, expertise from one discipline is brought into the context of another or novel technologies are applied in the domain of new end-users. The ICB CDT, established in 2003, achieves this in two different ways. Firstly, we support the development of a cohort of outstanding PhD researchers for whom a multidisciplinary approach is the norm. Secondly, we run focused research teams that bring together researchers from different disciplines in order to solve strategic bottlenecks of industrial relevance that cannot be tackled using discipline centric approaches.

Multidisciplinary education: Attracting the best and most motivated

We attract exceptionally bright and talented physical sciences graduates and over four years educate them in the skills and arts of multidisciplinary research through a combination of taught courses which introduces them to the biomolecular sciences, and research which provides them with hands on experience of the technical and personal skills they will need to become leaders in chemical biology.
The pervasive presence of our doctoral students has carried the experience of multidisciplinary research into postdoctoral, academic and industrial research communities stimulating new avenues of research

Pushing the training further: Empowering our PhD students

For the ICB CDT there is a training agenda above and beyond the research compass that has to do with developing transferable skills, representing science to the wider world and promoting a professional networking culture.
At the ICB CDT we have been proactive in this agenda and developed a suite of bespoke transferable skills courses that PhD students can integrate into their research programmes. Our residential courses cover teamwork and networking, communication and public awareness plus decision making, leadership and careers guidance.
We have also pioneered entrepreneurship education for our PhD cohort and provide them with the opportunity to exploit the commercial potential of ideas they have developed. This programme, co-developed with the Imperial College Business School enables students to bid for £20k to capitalise upon intellectual property they have developed and has led to numerous student spinout vehicles.

Translation to industry: A two-way exchange of understanding

Successful translational research means transfer of knowledge and understanding in two directions. This is true whether the translation is to industry or to the clinic.
Making translational research happen is less about passing information across a divide than creating an environment in which multiple researchers understand and benefit from each others expertise and experience. It is also critical to develop and support research teams and individuals who combine this knowledge in a multidisciplinary way.
We encourage our industrial partners to take an active role in the supervision and training of our CDT students and in the creation and evolution of our joint research initiatives. The ICB CDT helps to create environments where ICB CDT researchers and our industrial partners can meet, discuss, swap ideas and be supported in developing translational research programmes.