Among last week’s meetings, two concerned strategy. The first was one of the biannual meetings of our Strategy Advisory Board, where among other items we looked at a more proactive approach to International engagement. Science is a global enterprise, and international activities are an important part of our portfolio. Historically we have been perhaps slightly more reactive to opportunities than we might have been. However, since these activities can leverage considerable external resources, both intellectual and financial, it was time to recognize that we ought to become more strategic. A related item concerned our role in cohering strategic partnerships with and between our many stakeholders.

A second Strategic meeting was one of the quarterly Joint Strategy Group meetings between all the RCUK Chief Executives and Sir Adrian Smith, Director General of Knowledge and Innovation, and his team, where we were brought up to date with a variety of recent and upcoming happenings.

One of the outcomes of the response (pdf) to the Industrial Biotechnology – Innovation and Growth Team report was the establishment of the Industrial Biotechnology Leadership Forum, of which I am a member. To assist with its prosecution and the engagement of all stakeholders in this space, it has spawned a (quite separate) Industrial Biotechnology Stakeholder Council, of which I am also a member. This is chaired by Jonathon Porritt, of Forum for the Future, and we had our first and excellent meeting. The wide-ranging membership, consisting of a series of stakeholder with interests (and a background) in sustainability issues made for a thoroughly interesting discussion.

A pleasant and interesting engagement was the opportunity to hear Harold Varmus, Nobel Laureate, one time head of the US National Institutes of Health and present Head of the US National Cancer Institute, give this year’s Rede lecture in Cambridge. Possibly the most famous of these was that on ‘The Two Cultures’ given by CP Snow in 1959 (see a previous blog), and as someone with a first degree in English Dr Varmus was perfectly placed to follow this! The high-level nature of this talk allowed Dr Varmus to speak most thoughtfully about the purposes, means and meanings of science.

On an academic note, no fewer than three of my papers were published within the last week: two papers on, respectively, the chemical genomics of and complex oscillations in the NF-kappaB signalling pathway, and one on text mining for determining the yeast metabolome ‘in silico’ via the literature.

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