The Garfield Weston Foundation has donated £500,000 to the British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) flagship 4-year PhD programme, aimed at supporting the training and research of the next generation of cardiovascular scientists.
The donation will fund six PhD students at King’s College London and the University of Leicester over the next four years. Starting in October, students will form the ‘Weston Class of 2021’.
King’s College London holds the prestigious BHF Research Excellence Award for its internationally recognised research focussing on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart failure, as well as housing talent in artificial intelligence and medical engineering. Students will work in state-of-the-art facilities and will be mentored by world-renowned experts.
The University of Leicester is a proud recipient of the BHF Accelerator Award and is known for its expertise in precision medicine. Students will benefit from the university’s research strengths in genetics, lifestyle factors and biomarker discovery, and the application of these for coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, heart surgery and new interventions for heart and circulatory diseases.
The foundation has also allocated £50,000 of its donation to sponsor a programme of activities to support the training and development of the wider PhD community at the BHF. This will provide opportunities for BHF-funded PhD students across the UK to network, share experiences, learn from each other and provide them with the tools to foster future scientific collaborations.
The Garfield Weston Foundation is a family-founded charitable grant-making foundation that has supported a wide range of causes across the UK every year since it was established in 1958. It has donated well over £1 billion in total and has already donated over £80 million to charities across the UK since April last year.
Philippa Charles, Director of Garfield Weston Foundation, said:
“Our Trustees are delighted to support the BHF’s commitment to develop the brightest and best minds in cardiovascular science and to continue its life-saving work despite the challenges COVID-19 presents.”
COVID-19 has devastated the BHF’s income. As a consequence, the BHF has had to almost halve its normal spend of £100 million on new research, impacting the number of researchers the charity can fund and ultimately slowing down the pace at which researchers can make life-saving discoveries.
This support will help to maintain the pipeline of scientific talent for future advancements in the prevention, detection and treatment of heart and circulatory diseases.
Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said:
“We are extremely grateful to the Garfield Weston Foundation for their generous support during the most challenging time in the BHF’s 60-year history.
“Our PhD students are tomorrow’s research leaders, and this donation will help to ensure we continue to protect, nurture and train young scientists as they embark on the start of their research careers.”