Chief Executive's blog

News from our Chief Executive, Professor Jackie Hunter

  • Back to blogging! New Bioscience for Health strategic publications

    Jackie Hunter

    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. […]

  • A flurry of reports and announcements

    Jackie Hunter

    This week has seen the launch of some key initiatives from the Research Councils (RCs). The first is the publication of the application and success rates by age and gender for each of the RCs with a commentary to add context. This forms part of the Equality and Diversity Strategy for RCUK and these tables will be updated annually. The second initiative has been the launch of the Research Innovate Grow message to highlight the key role the RCs play in ensuring the UK remains the best place in the world to do research, innovate and grow business. […]

  • Our need for industry in delivering benefits from research

    Jackie Hunter

    The issue of Nature last week contained a special supplement on Innovations in the Microbiome. The microbiome is something I have become increasingly fascinated with, starting from early realisations of its importance whilst at GlaxoSmithKline, through to the work BBSRC sponsors at the Institute of Food Research and in universities. It was interesting to read the article by Nestlé, who sponsored the supplement, charting their interest in probiotic bacteria and the microbiome. Much of this work is done in conjunction with academia and indeed much of it could not have been done by Nestlé alone. But similarly, the academic researchers have needed Nestlé to translate their work into applications with industry and consumer benefit. […]

  • A week in California

    Jackie Hunter

    The past week and a bit was spent on the US West Coast, talking to experts in Big Data, Synthetic Biology (Synbio) and Plant and Animal Health. My colleagues, Melanie Welham and Amanda Collis, and I had some fascinating discussions which really helped put our plans for the next spending review in an international context. For example, in Synbio, it is clear that the approach needs to be truly multidisciplinary with a well-articulated biological problem at the heart of any programme rather than developing the tools and technologies in the abstract. However, investment in platforms is still required. It is also clear from talking to a number of researchers that the USA does not have an integrated Big Data strategy nor an overall Synbio strategy, although there are many well-funded initiatives. I wonder whether there is a need for some global solution for integrating and maintaining databases when funding terminates for a particular area. In the biomedical/health space, this might be something for Gates Foundation or another global funder to address in partnership with more regional funders. Who funds, and what to store permanently and how, is definitely something that needs more debate. […]