BBSRC Executive Chair's blog

News from our Chief Executive, Professor Melanie Welham

Professor Melanie Welham
  • ESOF, plastics and feeding fish

    Melanie Welham

    This year’s European Science Open Forum (ESOF) was recently held in Toulouse and attended by scientists, researchers, policy makers and interested members of the general public from across the world. It was heartening to see members of the UK community making a significant contribution to what was a very varied programme*. UK leadership in bioscience was well represented with varied talks and policy discussions including Tim Benton on food security and Richard Thompson (University of Plymouth) on the hot topic of plastic pollution in the ocean, with others discussing the future for plastics.

  • Stakeholder engagement: learning more about how the community views BBSRC

    Melanie Welham

    Earlier in the year I wrote to more than 2,500 of you inviting your views on BBSRC to inform our third stakeholder survey. As a leader and funder of bioscience research, BBSRC needs to understand and respond to its community and wider partners. We invited stakeholders to tell us how well we are supporting their needs and to give their perceptions of BBSRC, particularly timely as we move into a new funding landscape within UK Research and Innovation. I would like to personally thank everyone who took the time to participate and I would also like to thank Pye Tait for undertaking the research and data analyses on BBSRC’s behalf.

  • 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.