A first main meeting of last week was our monthly meeting of the Chief Executives of the Research Councils, where we were joined for a discussion by Sir Mark Walport, the Government Chief Scientific Adviser, who outlined his main priorities and stressed the importance of collaborative working between the Research Councils, the Government Office for Science (GO-Science), and others.

A ‘double header’ on Wednesday saw meetings of the e-infrastructure Leadership Council, co-chaired by Minister of Universities and Science David Willetts and Dominc Tildesley, and in the evening a meeting of the Foundation for Science and Technology on Maximising the use of public data – should research and publically acquired data be made more accessible? The speakers there were Prof Geoffrey Boulton (lead author of the Royal Society analysis of Science as an Open Enterprise), Sir Nigel Shadbolt (of the Open Data Institute, among other roles) and Minister Willetts, with formal commentary  from Professor Sheila Bird of the MRC Biostatistics Unit.

I also attended the excellent Walker-Institute Lecture by Lord Krebs on “Is the UK prepared for the risks and opportunities from a changing climate?”. Among other areas, and concentrating on adaptation rather than mitigation, he highlighted the declining increase in agricultural productivity in the UK contingent upon earlier cuts in research and translational funding, and a new report on “Managing the land in a changing climate”.

I note another in a series by John Ioannidis on various kinds of false biomarker discovery (a topic in which I have some interest), a blog on (in part) an enormous microbial sequencing programme for natural products discovery, an interesting piece on the role of sensory deprivation in promoting creativity, and a recorded video (MP4) of my acceptance speech on my election to a Fellowship of Aberystwyth University.

Few can understand why economic systems seem to work so poorly, and why everyone (including most countries) seems to be in debt (the obvious question being ‘to whom?’). The book I am reading on this, Michael Rowbotham’s prescient (1998) and scarily titled The Grip of Death: a study of modern money, debt slavery and destructive economics, provides a lucid if unwelcome explanation (albeit one I rather suspected). Required reading for anyone who wishes to fix the world, and of which more anon.

A couple more of my metabolomics papers have been accepted, one on an analysis of the human metabolic network, and one on the use of metabolomcs in drug discovery, as well as a paper describing a detailed systems  biology model of yeast glycolysis.

Finally, I was shocked to hear of the very untimely death of Brian McCarry, on whose lovely work I had commented just last week.

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