First of all, I was and am delighted to welcome my successor as CEO of BBSRC in the form of Dr Jackie Hunter, with whom I once served on Council. I shall very much look forward to working with Jackie prior to the ‘handover’ in October.
We had a number of health- and agriculture-related activities, including an RCUK POST reception on the contribution of research to health, one of our regular bilaterals with Defra Chief Scientist Ian Boyd, and a meeting of the ABPI Innovation group to discuss both open data in clinical trials and patient participation in research projects. We also had meetings of the Joint Strategy Group of RCUK Chief Executives with colleagues from BIS, and of the Chairs and Directors of the Institutes to which we provide strategic support.
We had a detailed meeting with senior colleagues from the Procter and Gamble company. There are many interesting scientific challenges in the space of personal care products; one area of special interest they mentioned was the unexpectedly complex mechanism of action of zinc pyrothione, the main ‘anti-dandruff’ component in shampoos such as “Head and Shoulders”. Another involved the basis for probiotic activity of a particular Bifidobacterium infantis strain.
I noted the important report (pdf) on Innovation Requirements for Primary Food Production in the UK to 2030 called Feeding the future by the Joint Commissioning Group. This was very timely, as I joined a discussion on Farming for the Future (hashtag #Farming4Future) at the Cheltenham Science Festival with Minister of Universities and Science David Willetts, and Tom Macmillan of the Soil Association, on the forthcoming Agri-tech strategy.
Finally, I was pleased to see the appearance in print of a new paper looking at the effects of unliganded iron on fibrin fibril formation, and its reversal by various agents. This is proving to be a very productive line of research (that started with a big review), with an important further paper just submitted, whose findings have some significant medical consequences.
- Kell, D. B. (2009). Iron behaving badly: inappropriate iron chelation as a major contributor to the aetiology of vascular and other progressive inflammatory and degenerative diseases. BMC Medical Genomics 2, 2. Full free text
- Pretorius, E., Vermeulen, N., Bester, J., Lipinski, B. & Kell, D. B. (2013). A novel method for assessing the role of iron and its functional chelation in fibrin fibril formation: the use of scanning electron microscopy. Toxicol Mech Methods 23, 352-359
- Reeder, N. L. et mult al. (2011). Zinc pyrithione inhibits yeast growth through copper influx and inactivation of iron-sulfur proteins. Antimicr Ag Chemother 55, 5753-60. Full free text
- Van Noorden R: Tensions grow as data-mining discussions fall apart. Nature 2013; 498:14-15
- Whorwell PJ, Altringer L, Morel J, Bond Y, Charbonneau D, O’Mahony L, Kiely B, Shanahan F, Quigley EM: Efficacy of an encapsulated probiotic Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 in women with irritable bowel syndrome. Am J Gastroenterol 2006; 101:1581-1590