BBSRC Executive Chair's blog

News from our Chief Executive, Professor Melanie Welham

Professor Melanie Welham
  • What a week that was for showcasing bioscience!

    Melanie Welham

    The week commencing 14 May 2018 was certainly one to remember for all of the opportunities it brought to showcase UK bioscience across the nation.

    As part of the formal launch of UK Research and Innovation, we were delighted that on Monday the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, Sam Gymiah, visited the soon to be completed Quadram Institute on the Norwich Research Park. The Minister was accompanied by UK Research and Innovation CEO Sir Mark Walport and I, along with other partners including Quadram’s Director, Ian Charles, University of East Anglia Vice-Chancellor David Richardson and Mark Davis, CE of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals. Minister Gymiah met early career researchers and heard about their work on understanding antimicrobial resistance, food-bourne pathogens and the importance the gut microbiome plays in shaping our health. Both the Minister and Sir Mark talked about the important place that multidisciplinary institutes have in the UK’s research and innovation ecosystem and recognised the unique aspects of the Quadram Institute, bringing together fundamental bioscience research on food and health with clinical endoscopy services. A personal moment for me during the visit was being interviewed for BBC Look East – a programme I grew up with and one that I had never imagined I would appear on!

  • My vision for BBSRC within UK Research and Innovation

    Melanie Welham

    It is an absolute pleasure to sit down to write this, my first blog since being appointed as Executive Chair of BBSRC within UK Research and Innovation.

    We are now just over one month into UK Research and Innovation and in conversations I have with members of the community I know there is an appetite to understand what this means for them. There are plans to publish UK Research and Innovation’s strategy soon, and this will be important for setting out the organisation’s approach, but here I would like to take the opportunity to set out my vision for BBSRC.

  • Impacts from bioscience research more surprises

    Melanie Welham

    Along with other research councils, BBSRC has recently published its annual impact report ‘Harnessing the power of biology’ (PDF).

    When I review drafts of our impact report I am always surprised by the unexpected discoveries, developments and impacts that feature – many of these would have been hard to predict at the outset of a particular programme of research and history tells us this is so often the case for frontier bioscience.

  • A look ahead for 2018

    Melanie Welham

    It is customary, close to the beginning of each New Year, to consider what the year ahead might hold, so my first blog of the year sets out some of my thoughts and predictions.

    For 2018, I anticipate we will see an increasing emphasis on discovery research. The importance of researcher-led discovery science is something which I have often heard members of our research community speak passionately about – and is something which I am a fervent supporter of too. Through BBSRC’s ‘Frontier Bioscience’ theme we have highlighted our commitment and support for discovery research – and I hope this will become increasingly apparent throughout the coming year.

  • Inspiration or imposter: coming to terms with how you are viewed by others

    Melanie Welham

    Throughout my career as a research scientist, wife and mother, and now as CE of BBSRC, I have always tried to be a positive role model. In doing so I did not set out with the intent of being seen as an inspiration to others, and I have to admit that the thought that I might be viewed in this way makes me feel slightly uncomfortable. Yet recently, a series of seemingly unrelated events and conversations have led me to reflect on this.