Last week saw the penultimate of our ‘roadshow’ conversations, held in Glasgow and attracting participants from both Scotland and elsewhere. As ever we had a very useful exchange of thoughts on a wide range of topics, not least about how to streamline the peer review process, where some very helpful suggestions were made. In line with an interesting recent editorial, one question elicited discussion on the extent to which funding should be concentrated on (the typically more tractable)  model organisms, a question brought into focus by the comparatively little study devoted to Chalara fraxinea (the cause of ash die-back – here is a link on how to spot it) nor to thousands of other organisms. I won’t claim to have any answers here, but clearly folk may wish to give special thought to justifying the choice of organism in proposals.

I have blogged before about 3D printing, and a recent piece gives a nice example of how it can be used to save thousands on certain laboratory supplies.

I also much enjoyed a visit to the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, where, as well as a very useful overview from Director Mike Stratton, and astonishing statistics such as the more than 200 terabases sequenced in 2011 alone, I enjoyed a number of other discussions with a variety of senior staff. I don’t wish to pick out particular highlights, but I am always attracted to novel ‘genome-wide’ techniques being applied to complex biological problems, and four worthy of mention involved an assessment of genomic markers of drug sensitivity, a protein microarray for identifying extracellular protein interactions, an approach to assess the function of every gene in a bacterium simultaneously, and the latest version of a bioinformatics environment for high throughput sequencing data.

I see that the NIH is now to enforce its Open Access policy, and I read an interesting article on how Unilever is using Open Innovation for its sustainability agenda, as well as one on how to make the internet a safer place. An open access paper of ours has been published, discussing the utility of algorithms from evolutionary computing in molecular plant and animal breeding programmes.

I was also very intrigued by the increasing evidence for supercomplex formation in the mitochondrial respiratory chain (no mention yet of ATP synthases). Something to return to as our understanding of organellar proteomics improves.

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