Tag: ageing

  • Infrastructures, open access and CSaP

    Uncategorized | Douglas Kell

    The week started with the latest meeting of the e-infrastructure leadership Council, co-chaired by Minister of Universities and Science David Willetts, where the main items centred around developing the details of our strategies for e-science. A second and very interesting meeting on infrastructures, organised by the Foundation for Science and Technology, was addressed by Sir John Armitt, Professor Brian Collins, and Tim Yeo MP, each giving some very insightful perspectives on UK large infrastructure needs, how they might better be joined up, and how we need to increase their recognition as a public good that transcends typical parliamentary timescales, and needs a clearer recognition of the extent to which the private sector can provide that.

    I appeared with others before the Business, Innovation and Skills Commons Select Committee to discuss Open Access (and note the new RCUK guidelines, also as pdf). These meetings are streamed live, and then made available via the internet; our session starts at about 10-49 into the video that may be viewed here. [...]

  • The 2011 STS forum, global problems and Council

    Uncategorized | Douglas Kell

    As presaged last week, I attended the 2011 Science and Technology for Society Forum in Kyoto, Japan. This was a truly wide-ranging and high-level meeting of politicians (including many present and previous Presidents, Prime Ministers and Ministers), funders, academic leaders and CEOs of major companies. The focus was on ensuring sustainability, not least in energy. I cannot possibly do it full justice, so I present a few examples, arguments and highlights.

    The terrible Japanese earthquake and tsunami of March 11th, 2011, with its devastation of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, had served to concentrate minds firmly on the wisdom or otherwise of including nuclear power (especially conventional fission) in energy supply plans, with countries such as Germany and Japan likely abandoning it while others (the US, France and UK among them) are seemingly taking a different view. This looks like having the makings of a classical example (and study) of how and on which bases policies are made in different places. According to Matthias Kleiner of the DFG, “no production engineer would develop a process where after 50 years we do not know where to put the waste”. [...]

  • ATPs, Roslin and Pharma

    Uncategorized | Douglas Kell

    As a one-time bioenergeticist, ATP usually means adenosine triphosphate, a so-called high-energy phosphate compound used as a means of storing chemical potential (i.e. free energy) in cells. In the present case, however, it means our Advanced Training Partnerships, that were recently announced, and last week I formally signed off some of the grant announcement letters themselves. The ATPs have been cleverly designed, with extensive stakeholder engagement, to ensure that they really will deliver training shaped to the needs of users, and are an exciting new part of our delivery.

    I also led the latest quarterly talk to all BBSRC (and BBSRC-hosted) staff based in Polaris House. These talks always include a pot-pourri of topics, and this one included a presentation by BBSRC’s Louisa Jenkin of activities in our third core theme of Basic Bioscience Underpinning Health, not least our programme in the biology of healthy ageing – a topic that is probably of universal interest. [...]

  • Ageing, roots and farming

    Uncategorized | Douglas Kell

    This week contained many short meetings, on which I do not usually blog, but one interesting event I attended was held in the gardens of Westminster Abbey and sponsored by the National Farmers Union and Morrison’s. This allowed the speakers – including Defra Secretary of State Caroline Spelman and Agriculture Minister Jim Paice – to reflect on the importance of vertical integration of the entire food chain, and the sponsors to show off some outstanding British produce (including some wonderful blackberries sourced from Kent). Berries are an excellent source of antioxidants. (In support for the UK’s 2018 World Cup soccer bid, there was also a truly awesome demonstration of ‘keepy-uppy’ by the current world record holder, Dan Magness. Nice to see the UK holding at least one soccer record!) There were many useful networking opportunities with MPs and other delegates, including some very useful discussions of the Red Tractor scheme. [...]

  • Health, exercise, brain regeneration and economics

    Uncategorized | Douglas Kell

    This week was slightly truncated because of the Bank Holiday, and allowed some catching up in Swindon. I went to listen to the first speech by Dr Vince Cable (who has a PhD in economics and used to teach the subject at Glasgow) on the priorities for economic growth. Notwithstanding the present rather gloomy economic position, statements such as “BIS is the Ministry for science, and science is a vital public good” give one grounds for optimism.

    I have blogged before about the fact that many things we learned when young (in science and elsewhere) are not in fact true (or may subsequently have been shown not to be). One such myth is that after adolescence one has a fixed number of brain cells and they are not regenerated in adulthood (indeed, alcohol was said to kill them by the thousand). While the very existence of brain tumours shows that adult CNS cells can divide, it does not tell us whether they normally do so. Happily, using methods such as bromodeoxyuridine (ChEBI) labelling and immunocytochemistry, it is now recognized that there is in fact considerable turnover (neurogenesis) in adults – see e.g. reviews by Gould, by Zhao et al., and by Imayoshi et al. This has many beneficial implications for healthy ageing. [...]