Archive for 'Uncategorized'

  • Health, wellbeing and veganuary

    Uncategorized | Melanie Welham

    Just as I was starting to notice a slight increase in day length, and daring to think ahead to spring, our weather reminded us that it is still very much winter, with possibly the largest snowfall in rural Wiltshire that I can remember.

    It is during these winter months that colds and flu cases are at their peak – I’m sure we all notice the coughs and sneezes as we go about our daily lives. While there is no cure for the common cold and over-the-counter medications can help alleviate some of the symptoms, controlling the cough reflex is one of toughest problems to solve. Noscapine is a known cough suppressant but due to its limited availability had not found widespread utility. A BBSRC-funded collaboration, between the University of York and GlaxoSmithKline, which builds on earlier fundamental research led by Professor Ian Graham, has helped to change this. Their research has led to the breeding of a new poppy variety (PDF) that produces much higher levels of noscapine, so much so that it is now responsible for 80% of the world’s noscapine supply. Because of the higher quantity of noscapine produced by this new poppy, extraction is much simpler and cheaper, opening up the possibility of noscapine being used more widely in cough medicines – and this could bring welcome relief to many of us. Interestingly, noscapine is also undergoing phase II clinical trials as a low toxicity anti-cancer agent. […]

  • Small surprises and farmers in Oxford

    Uncategorized | Melanie Welham

    The start of a year is often a time for reflection on the previous 12 months and a look forward to the year ahead.

    Shortly before the Christmas break a request came through at short notice inviting me to meet with the Minister for Science and senior colleagues from the Ugandan government. The first surprise was that diaries worked. I was not sure what to expect as while we support some projects with links to Uganda, especially in the areas of animal and plant disease, they have not traditionally been a partner. And here was the second surprise – the 5-strong delegation were keen to learn more about UKRI, more about BBSRC and particularly our interests in the bioeconomy, which, with a different focus, they see as a major opportunity for development in Uganda. They were also very interested to understand how we fund research and innovation, as they are in the early stages of establishing their new Ministry. I very much enjoyed the discussions and at the end of the meeting had a huge sense of fulfilment; if I had in any way helped shape their thinking it was a meeting well worth the time and a satisfying, if surprising, way to round off a busy year. […]

  • India, impact and innovators

    Uncategorized | Melanie Welham

    I was delighted to make my first trip to India recently, representing UKRI at the ‘Together for Impact’ celebrations marking a decade of India-UKRI partnership and to officially launch UKRI India. Some examples of UK-India collaborations can be viewed in this video, with more detail on a decade of cooperation available in this report (PDF).

    BBSRC has been building relationships with our Indian counterparts, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) in particular, for the past two decades. BBSRC first signed an MoU with DBT in 1996 and then in 2006 we launched our India Partnering Award scheme, enabling BBSRC-supported researchers to forge long-term relationships with Indian counterparts (this year’s competition is open until 15 Nov 2018). With DBT we have funded joint research in bioenergy, livestock disease and crop production and with the availability of additional resources, via GCRF and the Newton Fund, have explored novel ways of partnering through sandpits (in aquaculture), joint centres (nitrogen in agriculture) and with other UKRI partners in reducing waste and enhancing use of agricultural data. […]

  • Biology week!

    Uncategorized | Melanie Welham

    I was delighted, once again, to join in the Royal Society of Biology’s Biology week celebrations, including the Parliamentary reception and #IAmABiologist Twitter campaign. In whatever way you identify as a biologist, I hope you joined in with the latter and I wonder what your motivation has been for pursuing biology – mine was a fascination with understanding how living organisms ‘worked’.

    Biology Week offers a fantastic opportunity to recognise the breadth of biology and its impacts, and the reception in Parliament was a great way to ensure that our Politicians have an understanding and awareness of this too. […]

  • Looking forward, looking back

    Uncategorized | Melanie Welham

    I am really delighted that this week has seen the publication of the Forward Look for UK Bioscience, which sets out how pushing back the frontiers of biology can contribute to delivering a healthy, prosperous and sustainable future.

    Development of the Forward Look for UK Bioscience has been led by BBSRC, in consultation with a wide range of key stakeholders and partners, including BBSRC’s legacy and new Councils and advisory panels. I am personally very grateful to all of those who have contributed and excited that we have a new framing upon which BBSRC, within UK Research and Innovation, will build its strategic delivery plan. The latter, under development now, will set out in more detail the actions we will take to support and deliver elements of the Forward Look and contribute to UK Research and Innovation’s strategic prospectus. […]