Professor Jackie Hunter's blog

News from our Chief Executive

  • New technologies, farming challenges and the rise of antimicrobial resistance

    Jackie Hunter

    In the 1990s I became very interested in the potential of novel technologies to alter gene expression and co-edited a book on antisense and its potential to manipulate novel gene expression in the central nervous system. Technology has moved on enormously since then and we now have many different ways of manipulating gene expression in animals and plants. BBSRC funds some of this work though the institutes and in universities. Recently a paper was published from workers at the Bristol University on how the CRISPR system functions which was co-funded by ourselves and the Wellcome Trust. [...]

  • Women in science

    Jackie Hunter

    Last week I attended an “exploring quotas” workshop in Berlin sponsored by EMBO and The Bosch Foundation. The aim was to explore the options for the use of quotas or other interventions to increase the representation of women at all levels in academia. The invited attendees represented a broad range of groups and the workshop will inform a report which will be published later this year. I learnt a lot and heard about interventions that had worked and some that had not. A particularly shocking fact was that women only got the vote in Switzerland in 1971! [...]

  • Scotland, schools and dialogue

    Jackie Hunter

    I had a very enjoyable visit North of the Border last week. This was primarily to visit The Roslin Institute but I also met with scientists from Scotland’s Rural Collage (SRUC) and the Moredun Research Institute. The Easter Bush campus, home to these institutions and others is clearly an exciting place to be and the quality of the science I saw was excellent – too much to single out examples! The design of the Roslin building was particularly interesting and a good example of how architecture can make a big difference, in a positive way, to the research environment. [...]

  • The importance of panels and committees

    Jackie Hunter

    I was very pleased to welcome our new council members to Swindon two weeks ago as part of the BBSRC induction process. I and the Executive team met with them to discuss our expectations of Council members and to answer any questions that they had – they also had some good suggestions for us in terms how Council itself could work. We are very grateful to people from the BBSRC community who carry out important work for BBSRC – not only as Council members but also as members of panels and Boards and our peer reviewers. I realise that for many people this can seem like a potential distraction from the day job but this is far from the truth. In interacting with others on panels and Boards, for example, you can become much better connected within the community and gain a greater understanding of the broader issues that we face as well as the more detailed specific scientific challenges. So I would urge you to contribute in this way whether it is for BBSRC or one of the other Research Councils. I am certain that had I not sat on Strategy Board and Council as well as many panels and committees, my eligibility for my current role would have been severely curtailed! [...]

  • Open innovation and bioscience

    Jackie Hunter

    Before the Easter weekend, I felt very privileged to be asked to lay the foundation stone for the new Open Innovation Hub at Rothamsted Research last week – a significant milestone in the development at Rothamsted of a UK Research and Innovation Campus. It gave me an opportunity to talk about open innovation and the benefits an open innovation approach can bring to both industry and academia. Open innovation is an approach that I strongly believe can accelerate the translation of research into application and unlock solutions to otherwise seemingly unsolvable problems. I championed the approach in my previous roles in the pharmaceutical sector and ran my own business that sought to harness the power of open innovation before joining BBSRC. [...]