At present the Department consists of around 350 people, including graduate students, research staff, assistant staff and University Lecturers, Readers and Professors. Within the Department there are 17 Fellows of the Royal Society, 3 of who are also members of Academia Europea. Research students may be supervised by academic staff of the University or by group leaders of research units based at the Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute.
The research of the Department is supported by approximately 80 research grants with a total value in excess of £27m. These grants are principally from British sources, e.g. the Research Councils - BBSRC, NERC and MRC - charities such as the Cancer Research Campaign and Wellcome Trust, and other bodies, including The Royal Society and Leverhulme Trust. They also include awards from prestigious international organisations such as the National Institutes of Health in the United States and from the European Union.
With its large population of post-docs and graduates, many of whom come from overseas, and its wide diversity of teaching and research, the Department provides a good environment for the informal meeting of scientists of varied expertise and background. This informal contact is positively encouraged and there is a Common Room where all members of the Department may meet for tea, coffee and other refreshments. In addition, there is an active social programme run by the graduate students, including informal talks for presenting their work. Students are expected to give a talk each year to a general audience, and most research groups organise their own seminar series and weekly group meetings. The Department runs various seminar series and lecture programmes throughout the year and students are also encouraged to attend the wide range of courses and talks arranged by other biological departments and institutions in and around Cambridge.
All graduate students have a supervisor to take primary responsibility for overseeing their research. Two academic advisors are also appointed for each student to provide further expertise in the relevant research area and monitor progress by assessing written reports. These assessments are fed back to the Department's Graduate Education Committee. The aim of this monitoring is to ensure that all students have the facilities and support they need, receive the training required to enhance their career prospects and are on course to finish their thesis within the allotted time.
The Graduate School of the Life Sciences (GSLS)provides extensive information for graduate students, including details of courses, a directory of experts, a students' forum and what it means to be a graduate student in Cambridge.
The University and the Colleges
Cambridge is a collegiate university, so graduate students are also members of a college. This provides a social base within the University, a graduate tutor as a further source of wisdom, and may also be able to assist with accommodation and additional funding. In contrast to undergraduate teaching, some of which is arranged by the college, graduate student research programmes are organised entirely by the Department.
The choice of college is a personal one; some graduate students prefer to choose a graduates-only college, such as Darwin, whilst others opt for colleges with a mix of undergraduates and postgraduates. Applicants will find detailed information in the Graduate Admissions website and on the Graduate School website.