In the early part of last week I participated in a meeting organised by Science Europe on the European Research Area (ERA) which discussed topics in the broad areas of the role of funders in ERA, research impact and its assessment and the reproducibility of research. In the latter session a presentation from Nature journals highlighted some issues of consistency in terms of good experimental practice in one of their journals that I think will bear some further investigation. Ensuring that the researchers we fund adhere to excellent standards of experimentation is something all the research councils in the UK take very seriously.

Science Europe has several priority action areas including access to research data, cross-border collaboration and other gender diversity issues. So it was appropriate that following the meeting I went to the University of Oxford and attended and spoke at OxFEST, an event that aimed to inspire women and show it is possible to have a rewarding career in science and a life. The organisation of the meeting was excellent as was the line-up of other speakers. I missed a couple of presentations as I also took the opportunity to visit some key academics at Oxford but the personal stories I did hear (Professor Dame Sally Davis, Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Roma Agrawal) had some wonderful insights that the audience seemed to appreciate. The talks were all videoed and I am hoping to be able to get hold of the link so I can share it via my Twitter account so these important stories can be broadcast more widely.

At the University I was pleased to meet Professor Ian Walmsley and Professor Mark Sansom and their colleagues, some of whom such as Professor Alex Halliday and Professor Dame Carol Robinson  I had met previously. I was able to strongly reassure everyone that BBSRC remains totally committed to funding excellent basic bioscience research. I also got some good feedback on our DTP programme and perceptions of BBSRC. Several people highlighted some gaps in the options available for career academic researchers. Therefore I am very pleased that BBSRC announced this week the creation of up to 15 new Anniversary Future Leader Fellowships that will allow early-career researchers to carry out independent research and support their training as future research leaders. These awards are for 3 years and provide a great opportunity to ensure we can ensure that the UK maintains a highly qualified bioscience research base at all levels.

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