Global issues to be tackled in ambitious research programme

  • Date

    Thu 3 Aug 17

Professor Tracy Lawson

Scientists at Essex are involved in a major international research programme looking into tackling some of the globe’s most serious challenges.

In one of the most ambitious international research programmes ever created, £225 million has been invested across 37 interdisciplinary projects to address challenges in fields such as health, humanitarian crises, conflict, the environment, the economy, domestic violence, society, and technology. 

The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Research Councils UK Collective Fund is supporting projects in the range of £2-8 million over four years.

It aims to build upon research knowledge in the UK, and strengthen capacity overseas, to help address challenges, informed by expressed need in the developing countries.

Professor Tracy Lawson, from the School of Biological Sciences, is collaborating with colleagues at Cambridge University and Tamil Nadu Agricultural University on one of the programme’s six flagship projects: ‘Crop Sciences: Improving Water Use and Yield Stability in Rice’

One of the aims of the project is to develop rice varieties that lose less water without a trade-off in photosynthesis and growth. Professor Lawson’s team will use a range of innovative plant physiology screening technologies to test rice varieties bred in Cambridge and India.

Jo Johnson, Minister for Universities and Science, said: “From healthcare to green energy, the successful projects receiving funding highlight the strength of the UK’s research base and our leadership in helping developing countries tackle some of the greatest global issues of our time.

“At a time when the pace of scientific discovery and innovation is quickening, we are placing science and research at the heart of our Industrial Strategy to build on our strengths and maintain our status as science powerhouse.”  

Andrew Thompson, RCUK GCRF Champion, said: “The 37 projects announced today build research capacity both here in the UK and in developing countries to address systemic development challenges,  from African agriculture to sustainable cities, clean oceans, and green energy, to improved healthcare, food security, and gender equality.”

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