Postgraduate: Physical science; Chartered Teacher grade; Online epidemiology journal

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The Independent Online

A new generation of physical scientists, trained to work with biologists, is to be bred by a big injection of cash from the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council. Up to 200 PhD places are to be offered over the next five years by five new Doctoral Training Centres at a cost of £25m (some of which is coming from the Medical Research Council and the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine).

The first students are beginning their studies this autumn. The multi-disciplinary training will produce engineers and physical scientists skilled to address the challenges emerging in modern life sciences, according to the council. Students will come from a range of backgrounds including chemistry, physics, computer science, mathematics and engineering. "They will look at how the brain works, how genes work at the molecular level; how proteins move, fold and interact in biological systems, and the development of new therapeutic devices," says the council. It hopes that the centres will become models for science PhD training. The centres are based at UCL, Imperial College, Strathclyde and Warwick univerisites and within a consortium made up of the universities of Leeds and Sheffield.

* Scotland will soon be introducing its own super teachers, many of whom will have picked up a masters degree while working towards their new status. Politicians, local education authorities and teachers in Scotland agreed earlier this year that a new Chartered Teacher grade was needed to allow teachers without management ambitions to stay in the classroom and yet be rewarded for their professional development. The status may be obtained by suitably qualified teachers via a masters (the programme route) or by putting together a portfolio and commentary (the accreditation route). There are pay rises for teachers as they work their way through the scheme. The masters programmes are being offered by Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Paisley and Strathclyde universities.

* An online epidemiology journal is being launched by a group of postgraduate students from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), the Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre and St George's Hospital Medical School. Emerging Themes in Epidemiology has won the students a contract with the online publisher BioMed Central. It will contain peer-reviewed articles on epidemiology - the science of how diseases are distributed in society - and related fields. The students have got Professor Peter Smith, professor of tropical epidemiology at LSHTM, on board as their editor-in-chief.

They are hoping that the journal will be of particular use to people working in epidemiology in the Third World. "We became interested in the open access model because there is debate about whether academic discussion should be closed to researchers who can't afford to pay for journal subscriptions," says Clarence Tam, one of the journal's editors. Postgraduate students wishing to submit or review articles should contact ben.lopman@hpa.org.uk.

g.mccann@independent.co.uk

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