Tag: bioinformatics

  • Audit board, molecular epidemiology and Imperial College

    Uncategorized | Douglas Kell

    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. [...]

  • Capturing and using digital information

    Uncategorized | Douglas Kell

    Last week I had a variety of meetings, some as part of a regular series such as those with Bob Watson, Chief Scientific Advisor at Defra, and with the BioIndustry Association (here focussing largely on Industrial Biotechnology). However, a variety of other meetings focussed on the opportunities for scientists and funders offered by digital (or e-) infrastructure.

    One internal meeting involved discussions of how we as funders will be able better to automate the capturing of outputs (such as papers) and linking them over time to the grants that funded them. Another showed me where we are with an internal tool that will help us capture outcomes and impacts. [...]

  • 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. [...]

  • Data visualisation, and the next generation of bioscientists

    Uncategorized | Douglas Kell

    Last week I attended a particularly interesting meeting that we had co-organised with colleagues at AHRC. This was a workshop on the wide-ranging, important and fundamental topic of data visualisation. Biological data visualisation can be defined as “a branch of bioinformatics concerned with the application of computer  graphicsscientific visualization, and information visualization to different areas of the life sciences”.  We recognised, as did the make-up of delegates at the workshop, that this included skills in and understanding of perception, cognition and design. [...]

  • Horticulture, fellowships and informatics

    Uncategorized | Douglas Kell

    The previous blog mentioned crop science and the John Innes Centre (meanwhile another broadsheet obituary for Chris Lamb has appeared), and the role of research in ‘biomedical agriculture’ to produce nutritionally enhanced plants. Continuing this latter theme, I paid a visit last week to Warwick HRI at Wellesbourne, formerly Horticulture Research International and prior to that the National Vegetable Research Station. Warwick HRI was once an institute of BBSRC (it is now part of the University of Warwick), and is a leading centre for research into important horticultural crops. I was introduced to several recent recruits, many from abroad, who described some very impressive work indeed. Horticulture is an important part of BBSRC’s landscape, especially given our interest in Food Security, and it was pleasing to know that this research area has a sound intellectual (and financial) base. The genome sequence of the potato blight pathogen Phytophthora infestans has just been published online. I was pleased to note that several UK and BBSRC-funded institutes and laboratories – including Warwick HRI – have been able to participate in the experiments leading to this important milestone. [...]