As part of a truncated post-Easter week I had a very interesting meeting with Ketan Patel, author of a very interesting book and who I had met at the STS Forum last autumn. A particular focus was on sustainability and how to estimate the full environmental and economic costs of various strategies, especially in agriculture, bioenergy and industrial biotechnology.

Continuing that theme, I attended part of the very interesting BSBEC grantholders workshop, where excellent progress is being made in this large and wide-ranging programme in sustainable bioenergy.

I had a very interesting visit to Newcastle University, where I visited a number of centres including the Centre for Bacterial Cell Biology, gave a talk about BBSRC strategy and also gave a scientific talk. I then returned south for a meeting by videoconference of the ‘Members’ (part of the new governance arrangements) of the John Innes Centre.

There is a Government survey currently being carried out into future requirements for large capital items.  However, responses from our community have been slow.  I would urge current grant holders and end-users of our research to respond to our call with projected future capital requirements, using the online survey at RCUK. Few responses will make it difficult for us to make the case for capital for our community, since if we do not know what is required we cannot make the strongest possible argument.

BBSRC also welcomed the election of the new Fellows of the Royal Society, 11 of whom were or had been our grantholders – and see Athene Donald’s blog for an insight into the processes involved. Let me also point out the latest issue of BBSRC Business.

I have noted before that while we can certainly design a car quite well, and a protein’s binding site to a reasonable degree, we really do not know enough about the fundamentals of biocatalysis to design an efficient (high-turnover) enzyme very effectively at all. The possessors of such knowledge can expect to make large advances, both intellectually and economically! To this end, I enjoyed reading a paper suggesting that some progress is indeed possible. I also enjoyed Ewan Birney’s latest blog, on epidemiology including the dangers of statistics.

Finally, I was pleased to see the final and Open Access appearance of a detailed paper on the genetic control of growth rate in yeast, and the acceptance of one on the use of semantic annotation of the biomedical literature.

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