Professor Jackie Hunter's blog

News from our Chief Executive

  • The power of collaboration and diversity

    Jackie Hunter

    Rare diseases by definition are infrequent but they are frequently devastating for patients and their families and can affect people from birth to old age. The Pfizer Rare Disease Consortium inaugural symposium which I was able to attend in part last week was a good opportunity to reconnect with some of my previous colleagues in pharmaceutical R&D as well as academia. [...]

  • Roots to photosynthesis – the importance of plant science

    Jackie Hunter

    One of the major challenges faced globally is the need to feed an ever increasing population, which is set to rise from 7 billion to 9 billion by 2050, and to do this in a sustainable way that does not adversely restrict the options of future generations. An important avenue of research, amongst the range of multidisciplinary approaches this will require, is to increase the yield of crops such as wheat. [...]

  • Big data challenges and animal welfare

    Jackie Hunter

    Despite the unseasonably warm weather, it’s clearly the end of the holiday season. Having had some time off recently allowed me some time for reading. This not only involved the usual cheap thriller but also an opportunity to catch up on other books that have been sitting on the shelf.

    One book that I think is particularly relevant in this age of big data was ‘The Signal and the Noise: the art and science of prediction’ by Nate Silver. He is a statistician and political forecaster and the book addresses some of the issues we face when the growth of data exceeds our capacity to process it. He warns of the dangers of becoming ‘too starry-eyed’ about what science and technology might accomplish and of inferring causality from mere correlation. [...]

  • Stakeholders and partners

    Jackie Hunter

    I am taking advantage of the relative quiet of August to get out and meet some of our key stakeholders and academic partners. This is one of the best bits of the job as I get to see a range of science and technology – from 10,000 of seedlings being phenotyped to single cell genomics. These visits reinforce the breadth and depth of science we have in the UK and how important this excellence is for companies making investment decisions here. I saw the new collaborative space within the EMBL-EBI ELIXIR building at Hinxton where GlaxoSmithKline scientists are working alongside EBI scientists on target validation. I also got a sneak preview of the 100,000 genomes building the day before it was announced! ELIXIR is a good example of how upfront investment in facilities and capabilities can attract industrial partners to invest in the UK. [...]