Last week encompassed a wide spectrum of activities, starting with one of the triannual meetings of our Audit Board. This very important Board reports to Council, and is responsible for monitoring our standards of risk management, corporate governance, internal control and financial propriety.
I then managed to attend the second half of a meeting organised in collaboration with the Food Standards Agency and the Health Protection Agency, looking at the potential impact of ‘next generation sequencing’ and related methods on the ability to detect and type potentially pathogenic strains of microbe that might be isolated from food or other matrices. Not least since the recent German E. coli outbreak, it has become pretty obvious that the most sensible – and nowadays most economic – approach to typing an organism is indeed to sequence its genome, since as well as providing a definitive typing, such data provide important information of use in epidemiology (and, by the detection of antibiotic-resistance genes, potentially in treatment). Significant investment, especially in the skills and the necessary informatics, will be necessary to realise this properly, however. [...]