UCL Research Domains


FMS Domain joins NRI-led consortium to create Centre for Doctoral Training

19 October 2020

Food market

A consortium of seven UK universities and research institutes, led by the Natural Resources Institute of the University of Greenwich, with UCL as a major partner arising from the Food, Metabolism and Society Research Domain, has been awarded a prestigious grant from UKRI to develop a Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) focused on developing the next generation of interdisciplinary food systems thinkers.

Food systems are complex networks of people and activities that are responsible for ensuring that we all have safe, healthy, sustainable and affordable food every day. Supported through the Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF) of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the £5 million programme focuses on the urgent need to transform the UK food system for health and sustainability, recognising the importance of food systems to economic growth and social wellbeing. The call, administered by BBSRC, in partnership with ESRC, MRC, NERC, Defra, DHSC, PHE, Innovate UK and FSA, is part of a wider £47.5 million interdisciplinary research programme seeking to transform the UK food system and is led by the Global Food Security Programme (GFS) and supported by UKRI’s Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF).

Called the ‘Partnership for Sustainable Food Future – Centre for Doctoral Training (PSFF)’, the consortium combines the world-leading interdisciplinary and innovative research and experience of: the Natural Resources Institute of the University of Greenwich, University College London, Royal Veterinary College, Institute of Biological, Environmental & Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth University, Centre for Food Policy at City University, University of Sussex, and Brunel University London; and two leading Agricultural Research Institutes, NIAB EMR and Rothamsted Research, plus over 50 partners from business, government and civil society.

“We are very happy to be working with influential partners in research and training, together with food systems stakeholders from all sectors, to develop the next generation of food systems leaders in the UK,” says Professor Andrew Westby, Director of NRI and leader of the PSFF consortium.

“As a partnership, we are also excited to look beyond this CDT, to have the opportunity to help shape a truly resilient, healthy and inclusive food system in the UK, working closely with government and the private and charitable sectors to make this a reality.”

The PSFF will train over 60 researchers to become future food systems leaders and innovators. At the heart of PSFF’s challenge-led approach is an open Food Systems Academy, a dynamic learning network which brings together doctoral researchers, their supervisors, and government, business and civil society organisations to co-design doctoral projects and to co-create and disseminate new knowledge with lasting impact. PSFF prioritises the student journey and adopts best practice and innovation in doctoral training by collaborating closely with the UCL-led flagship BBSRC LIDo DTP (www.lido-dtp.ac.uk).

Quote from Professor Frances Brodsky, Founder and Co-Director of UCL’s Food, Metabolism and Society Research Domain:

“We are thrilled that our research domain’s efforts to promote interdisciplinary approaches to addressing metabolic disease and global nutrition, and to further communication between academics, policy-makers, the food industry, and the public will join those of our colleagues at other UK institutions to train doctoral students through this CDT.  We are also very excited that this CDT establishes a virtual Food Academy to bring together academia, policy-makers, charities and industry to encourage communication between ourselves as well as to train future leaders in innovative and disruptive thinking about the food sector. Our contributions build on our strengths in environmental concerns and how they are impacted by food systems, as well as basic biology, genetics, epidemiology and politics of nutrition, and in social, historical and engineering aspects of nutrition.”

The first cohort of PSFF doctoral studentships will begin in October 2021; the call for applications will be announced soon.