Tag: animal health

  • Big data challenges and animal welfare

    Uncategorized | 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. [...]

  • York for plant science, London for badgers and BBSRC’s birthday

    Uncategorized | Jackie Hunter

    Last week I went to York and had a very interesting time at the UK PlantSci 2014 conference. As well as some excellent talks by students and post-docs (for example the potential of the Bambara groundnut), the discussion on plant science in the late afternoon on Monday was particularly enlightening. The panel discussion followed a brief presentation summarising the recommendations of the report on UK plant science (PDF) published by the UK Plant Sciences Federation. [...]

  • I am going to run a half marathon…

    Uncategorized | Jackie Hunter

    Last week I gave my second regular talk to staff at BBSRC Swindon Office since I started in this role, highlighting some of the exciting science we have funded and our areas of focus this year. As part of our 20th Anniversary year we are supporting two charities through a range of voluntary fundraising activities by staff. The two charities chosen by members of BBSRC staff are Water Aid and the Honeypot Children’s Charity and we invited representatives from each to the meeting. Both of these are very worthwhile causes. The Honeypot Children’s Charity helps young carers and vulnerable children between the ages of 5 and 15. They provide an annual respite break where children can meet others in similar circumstances as well as on-going support. £425 can fund a child for a year and make a real difference to their lives. There must be a link between this charity with its name and logo with some of our funded bee researchers – ideas please! [...]

  • Non-food crops, industrial biotechnology and IAH

    Uncategorized | Douglas Kell

    My first external visit of the week was to York, where I had discussions with the National Non-Food Crops Centre (NNFCC) and the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products. These have both been well ahead of the curve in recognising the need to integrate the plant-based fixation of carbon and its conversion, extraction and processing into high(er) value products besides foodstuffs and feed. Many issues remain in terms of rolling out the Knowledge Based BioEconomy on a large scale, but it is necessary to have things to roll out in the first place!

    We had a very useful meeting of the Industrial Biotechnology Leadership Forum, including Minister for Business and Enterprise Mark Prisk. The number of examples of a move to sustainable, biologically based chemicals production is growing apace. Readers may be interested in the Forum’s autumn newsletter, as well as a paper by NESTA on Financing Industrial Biotechnology in the UK. It would seem that Finance for Industrial Biotechnology is something that is mainly likely to come not from the Venture Capital sector but more from large corporates within the relevant sectors. [...]

  • Animal health, Eisai, institutes and infrastructure

    Uncategorized | Douglas Kell

    A very full week last week (ok, they are all ‘full’) started with the visit of Minister of Universities and Science David Willetts to a topping out ‘milestones’ ceremony celebrating partial completion of the ‘Development Phase 1’ building at the Institute for Animal Health at Pirbright. This is a major project for us, with this part alone costing rather north of £100M. It will allow a major expansion of our abilities to carry out research in this space, and will surely prove a magnet to other talented researchers. For reasons of biosecurity, the building itself includes many technical innovations, as well as high specifications even for more conventional materials like the concrete of which it is constructed. This kind of infrastructure is paralleled by e-infrastructure, another important part of scientific infrastructure for the development of which I attended another meeting. [...]