Gastro-intestinal track research has huge importance for health and wellbeing – and is an exciting area of science. My view was reinforced last week when I paid a visit to the Institute for Food Research at Norwich and heard some great talks by its research faculty. Phylogenomics and molecular approaches to food borne pathogens such as Salmonella species, protein polysaccharides interactions and their impacts on immune cell function, kinase ligands as important targets for dietary polyphenols and the characterisation of gut microbiota in early infancy were just some of the topics on the menu. Over recent years, interest has grown in the effects of diet on gut microbiota, the impact of microbiota on brain and behaviour as well as the interplay between the gut microbiota and disease states such as obesity. [...]
Last week saw the splendid and welcome announcement in the Budget (pdf) of a new investment of £100M in science capital infrastructure for growth, with £70M of that earmarked for the Norwich Research Park (£26M) and the Babraham Research Campus (£44M). This is a magnificent recognition of the importance of BBSRC science to our potential economic prosperity as part of the Knowledge-Based BioEconomy. We shall now be working hard to develop the details of these investments so that the benefits may be realised as quickly as possible.
Another celebratory occasion was the culmination at the Bioscience for Growth networking event of our Innovator of the Year and Excellence with Impact competitions. I had no direct involvement in these, so I was as eager as the competitors to know the results. As ever, we had a huge array of exciting scientific and other activities on display (focussing for each entry on an ‘iconic’ object), and we were delighted that Minister for Science and Universities David Willetts was able both to present the prizes and to spend a considerable amount of his time conversing with the exhibitors. [...]