The first external meeting of the week was to fulfil, with Director of Science Prof Melanie Welham,  an invitation to discuss areas of mutual scientific interest with the Strategy Board of the Medical Research Council. These included bioinformatics and e-science, systems and synthetic biology, nutrition and health, vaccinology and antimicrobials, all areas where our communities have complementary strengths and where we might well seek to develop some joint initiatives.

We had a meeting of our own Research Advisory Panel (consisting of the chairs of our Research Committees and Strategy Panels) the very next day, where among other topics we discussed the extent to which e-science might need some highlights or special notices, or whether any increase in our activities might continue unimpeded via the Exploiting New Ways of Working funding schemes and through responsive mode. The general feeling was that such proposals would not be disadvantaged by continuing as we are, though given that this is a highly promising area (with significant Government interest via the E-Infrastructure Leadership Council) we shall continue to monitor the volume of (both successful and unsuccessful) applications.

We had a useful “6-monthly” meeting with Director-General of Knowledge and Innovation Sir John O’Reilly and BIS colleagues from the Research Base, and I attended the annual meeting of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industries, where we were addressed by (among others) Lord (‘Freddie’) Howe and Professor Brian Cox.

Finally, we had Partnership meetings with colleagues from the Institute of Food Research and from the Roslin Institute, where we were able to catch up with some excellent scientific and other highlights.

Papers I noted this week included one on hybrid grasses whose root structures effectively increase soil porosity and decrease run-off substantially, with huge potential to mitigate flooding, one on computational techniques for omics data, and a salutary review on statistical powering.

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