As a one-time bioenergeticist, ATP usually means adenosine triphosphate, a so-called high-energy phosphate compound used as a means of storing chemical potential (i.e. free energy) in cells. In the present case, however, it means our Advanced Training Partnerships, that were recently announced, and last week I formally signed off some of the grant announcement letters themselves. The ATPs have been cleverly designed, with extensive stakeholder engagement, to ensure that they really will deliver training shaped to the needs of users, and are an exciting new part of our delivery.

I also led the latest quarterly talk to all BBSRC (and BBSRC-hosted) staff based in Polaris House. These talks always include a pot-pourri of topics, and this one included a presentation by BBSRC’s Louisa Jenkin of activities in our third core theme of Basic Bioscience Underpinning Health, not least our programme in the biology of healthy ageing – a topic that is probably of universal interest.

BBSRC research underpins considerable chunks of the present and future UK economy (as does that of other Research Councils), so conferences in which our community engages with industrial and other stakeholders have significant importance. I thus attended a thoroughly interesting and enjoyable Industry Conference held at the Roslin Institute. This was followed by the formal official opening of its new building on the Easterbush Research Campus (EBRC), to which BBSRC contributed some £37M. The ‘scientific’ speakers were (Roslin Director) David Hume, (Scottish Agricultural College Director) Bill McKelvey, (Edinburgh University Principal) Sir Tim O’Shea, and myself. My own brief speech focussed on the recognition that UK Bioscience is the best in the world, that it remains so by funding excellence, and that my predecessor Julia Goodfellow had presented the vision to our Council ca 2005 when I was a member thereof, and that Council had strongly agreed with the idea that a Centre of Excellence in Animal Biology at the EBRC was both desirable and achievable. And so it has proved.

The above presentations were then followed by a superb (and largely extemporised) presentation from Alex Salmond, the Scottish First Minister, whose support for the EBRC enterprise was naturally welcome and was articulated very clearly and with considerable verve and wit.

I also gave an ‘academic’ talk about work from my laboratory (and the literature more generally) on pharmaceutical drug transporters, of which the latest instalment is now online. While a conference with the title ‘clinically relevant drug transporters’ necessarily attracts those who recognise their significance, I think it is fair to say that there is a substantial increase in the recognition of their importance. On the academic side, an extended article from the Husermet project summarising protocols for serum metabolite measurement has gone online.

One of the pieces of harmless fun (and useful education) that the internet affords surrounds the meaning and/or etymology of unusual words (as in the various Word of the day sites). In this regard, the term ‘Torrefaction’ might be of interest. As the link states, the torrefaction of biomass involves a “mild form of pyrolysis at temperatures typically ranging between 200-320°C. During torrefaction the biomass properties are changed to obtain a much better fuel quality for combustion and gasification applications. Torrefaction combined with densification leads to a very energy dense fuel carrier of 20-25 GJ/ton.” Something we may expect to see a bit more of, I suspect.

I am always on the lookout for new tools to help research, and I was reminded, via the 2011 Web Server issue of NAR, of a very useful portal for online bioinformatics tools. Anything that helps deal with the tsunami of literature is especially welcome, and a tool called Biograph, with an accompanying preprint, is an interesting addition. I also downloaded a nice (and very fast) free tool (‘Publish or Perish’) for citation analyses.

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