An important meeting last week was the last Council meeting of 2012, where substantive items included a detailed, high-level analysis of our research grant expenditure and portfolio, plus discussion and approval of our plans for rolling out further and exciting programmes in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy.

We also had a very useful meeting of the ‘Members’ of Rothamsted Research, where we were able to have high-level discussions of modern farming and the Agri-Tech strategy.

I enjoyed a visit to several groups at GSK in Stevenage, where I also gave a seminar on drug transporters, and had very useful discussions about various elements of the drug discovery pipeline, including e-science, then heard a very clear (and scary) lecture on Climate Change given by John Holdren, the US Presidential Science Adviser. Investments of less than 1% of GDP in technologies for mitigation and adaptation could still avoid the worst predictions of climate disruption models; it is a small price to pay, and BBSRC will be keen to foster those technologies in its remit (including appropriate negative emissions technologies (pdf)). Equally scary is the potential loss of our soils; maybe the deep roots agenda can contribute to the solution of both kinds of problems.

I much enjoyed a superb paper by Andy Hopkins and colleagues at Dundee on a systems-based approach to polypharmacology, another on mouse pheromones from Jane Hurst and colleagues at Liverpool, and one on the discovery of a novel biosynthetic pathway by Sarah O’Connor and colleagues at the John Innes Centre.

I enjoyed a collection of recent web-based data visualisation gems, and was also pleased to see that the MCC, like BBSRC, now has a Royal Charter.

As next week is a little truncated, this is likely to be the last blog before the Christmas holiday, and I wish all readers the compliments of the season and a rewarding 2013.

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