Well it’s good to be back blogging after purdah and holidays – I can definitely recommend the beaches of Brittany although perhaps not in May if you want to be guaranteed perfect weather! Just before purdah started BBSRC published two important documents in Bioscience for Health. The first was a strategic research framework in Bioscience for Health, 2015-2020 (PDF). This framework will be a living document, responsive to emerging opportunities for excellent research and innovation but does provide a set of long term goals for our research portfolio in this area. It links with our ambitions for the new centre for food and health at Norwich where we plan some very exciting science in many areas including the microbiome and its role in health and disease. Within the Bioscience for Health Strategy there are four challenge areas: lifelong health, nutrition for health, one health and biotechnology for health.
Lifelong health will engage researchers looking at mechanism of ageing across the life course and will rely heavily on model organisms and system based approaches. An understanding of epigenetic modifications and their effects on physiology, including regenerative capacity, will capitalise on previously funded BBSRC research. There are also many opportunities to look at other effects of lifestyle and generate robust biomarkers of ageing and wellness.
The role of nutrition in health and wellness is an area that has been recognised as being of global importance and the UK is well placed to bring together a more integrated approach of nutrition science, agricultural production, basic plant and animal science and food processing. BBSRC can work with the other Research Councils to better understand the role of nutrition in the transition from wellness to illness and an understanding of how the relationship between food and health change over the life course – not just for humans but also for animals. This area is further developed in BBSRC’s Strategic Framework for Food, Nutrition and Health (PDF) developed with MRC and ESRC which was the second of our major publications from the last couple of months.
The one health agenda offers huge opportunities for human and animal health researchers to benefit from each other’s research especially in the area of infectious disease. BBSRC is working actively with a number of partners to see how we can drive pre-competitive research between companies and between companies and academia in this area both in the UK and in Europe. Animal health is vitally important to food security and we need to be able to accelerate the translation of basic research into new interventions and management practices. On a personal note as someone with a beagle with epilepsy, a one health agenda is incredibly important for developing new medicines for companion animals as well as livestock.
Finally biotechnology for health encompasses a range of objectives to develop platform technologies to enable a greater exploration of new science for health. The previous investments by BBSRC and other Research Councils in synthetic biology, regenerative medicine and structural biology need to be leveraged to further enhance our basic understanding of biology at a systematic, cellular and molecular and chemical level. This will not only support our excellence in bioscience but also generate new opportunities for applications in health maintenance and disease treatment.
Finally I would like to mention that we are actively seeking new members from academia, industry and other members of the BBSRC user community for our strategy panels and committees. I would urge you to apply – we really want to get a diverse mix of people on our panels. What’s the worst that can happen? If you aren’t suitable you will at least get feedback on why and what additional skills or experience you might need – but by flagging your interest to us it will enable us to consider you for other panels etc. Here’s the relevant link: www.bbsrc.ac.uk/news/people-skills-training/2015/150529-n-call-for-bbsrc-pool-of-experts-strategy-panels-committees/