Last week was a truncated post-Bank Holiday week, mainly with internal meetings. One of these involved a very useful visit to JBOS, the (BBSRC-hosted) Joint Building and Office Services looks after both the physical structure of Polaris House in Swindon as well as many common services such as the switchboard, the Post Room (> 7000 items per day…), catering and the like. It is often easy to forget such infrastructures (except when things don’t work), and so it was nice to meet the folk who look after us in this way.

We had another meeting of the ‘Pharmaceutical Forum’, a group that brings the Chief Executives of BBSRC, EPSRC and MRC together with senior representatives of the Pharmaceutical Industry.

I had an on-the-record interview with Paul Jump of the THE, a summary of elements of which will presumably appear in that organ in due time. I was pleased to be able to report, inter alia, that for practical purposes we had cleared the backlog of grant announcements that had built up.

Following on from the Report of the e-infrastructure Advisory Committee, we had a couple of different meetings on e-infrastructure and ELIXIR. E-infrastructure is seen as key to both scientific and economic competitiveness. In this vein, I also enjoyed a thoroughly interesting visit to the famed HP Labs near Bristol, where as well as having some wide-ranging discussions around the IT-biology interface(s) we were shown some exciting technologies and activities in display technologies and in cloud computing. From time to time it is worth asking what one might do if computing, storage, bandwidth or display were 1000 times ‘better’ (per £), and what problems might become soluble when they are. As one can anticipate that sometime soon they will be, we shall be giving thought as to ways in which we might best ask and answer those questions.

Computational benefits to be realised do of course require that the necessary facts and information are available (in a sensible format) in the first place, and a useful new paper sets down the ‘minimum information’ that one should seek to provide for bioactive substances. In some kinds of circumstance it might be desirable to exhibit bioactivity only in response to a particular trigger; an interesting paper describes one such molecule that responds to hydrogen peroxide stresses.

Readers will be interested in our announcements on funding for the Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases and for Follow-on funding, and in the cheering news that “levels of chocolate consumption seem to be associated with a substantial reduction in the risk of cardiometabolic disorders”. Any relationship to the substantial differences in gender-related metabolism is not recorded.

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