Dundee and Angus is a world leader in the field of life sciences – from drug discovery to agricultural biotechnology, the region consistently produces research which affects the life sciences industry across the globe. Karen Tocher, business tourism manager at Dundee & Angus Convention Bureau, sheds light on some of the region’s recent advances in the sector…
Dundee is known the world over for its contributions to the world of life sciences. The city’s three academic institutions – the University of Dundee, James Hutton Institute and Abertay University – have all produced research that has gone on to majorly impact the international life sciences community.
Dundee and Angus’ strengths lie in the sheer diversity of research being undertaken in life sciences.
The University of Dundee’s pioneering Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research and its Drug Discovery Unit, for example, are leading the way in bringing together the field’s greatest minds to develop drugs to combat neglected tropical diseases – those which perhaps don’t reap the same financial rewards as more common diseases but affect the lives of tens of thousands of people every year.
At the James Hutton Institute, research is being carried out in a variety of fields – the Institute’s expertise from Dundee is assisting the adoption of new root, tuber and banana varieties by breeders in Africa, while the International Barley Hub has developed an innovative system that allows the genetic characterisation of individual barley varieties.
One of the Institute’s most interesting developments, however, has been the development of a synthetic, transparent soil which can be used to examine the roots of plants. Useful for examining both the effects of pests and pathogens, and the natural growth processes of plants, the soil is combined with innovative imaging techniques to address global agricultural issues.
Most recently the technology has been used in a project funded by the BBSRC to investigate the effects of biofumigant plants could be used to protect crops from the likes of nematodes, which damage their roots.
Alongside the James Hutton Institute, Abertay University is amongst the academic institutes working with the Innovate UK project which aims to improve food safety standards in potato, cereal, bread and other food products.
And this investigation of food continues throughout other life sciences research in Abertay – PhD researcher Kateryna Tkachencko, for instance, is taking advantage of the university’s extensive microbiology expertise in examining suspected life-extending properties in homemade cheese and yoghurt from the Carpathian Mountains.
The strength of the region’s academic talent is backed up by a thriving life sciences industry. BioDundee is a partnership between academia and the private and public sectors, ensuring that the region stays ahead of the curve in new developments and technologies. Bringing together like-minded researchers and businesses, the partnership fosters a creative and dynamic work environment for improving Dundee & Angus’ life sciences offering.
The wealth of expertise and knowledge on display in Dundee and Angus has led to a number of high profile life sciences events being held in the region, including the World BioDiscovery Congress in late July which provided an opportunity for collaboration between scientists, policy makers, investors and industry representatives.
Events like these – and the world leading research taking place across Dundee and Angus – are once again proof that the region is truly where ideas become legend.