The first external meeting of the week was to fulfil, with Director of Science Prof Melanie Welham, an invitation to discuss areas of mutual scientific interest with the Strategy Board of the Medical Research Council. These included bioinformatics and e-science, systems and synthetic biology, nutrition and health, vaccinology and antimicrobials, all areas where our communities have complementary strengths and where we might well seek to develop some joint initiatives. [...]
Tag: diet and health
The week started by attending a symposium to mark the opening of the Manchester Collaborative Centre for Inflammation Research, a research centre co-funded (to the tune of £5M each) by Astrazeneca and GSK – implying the highly pre-competitive nature (one might say ‘lack of understanding’) of this space. Inflammation seems like an area ripe for a systems approach.
We had the calendar year’s first meeting of Council, where the main theme was strategic planning, from the light touch refresh of the Strategic Plan to rehearsing and developing both nearer-term plans and those – a subject of our summer strategic meeting – that are likely to be longer term. [...]
The majority of last week’s meetings were ‘internal’, mainly around planning for future activities, but I did join a very useful discussion with representatives of the Russell Group about the implementation of Open Access, a subject of increasing interest.
We had a very fruitful bilateral meeting (my first formal one) with Professor Ian Boyd, the new Defra Chief Scientific Adviser, covering a raft of topics of mutual interest in all areas of agriculture and environment, and a separate one including NERC Chief Executive Duncan Wingham with whom we are working up a number of joint programmes. [...]
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. [...]
Much of last week was spent in Norwich, first at a moving memorial event for Chris Lamb (obituary) and then in various discussions about scientific strategies for both the John Innes Centre (JIC) and the Norwich Research Park (NRP) more generally. Scientific research and development represent the major drivers of economic growth throughout history, and the NRP is recognized as an extremely important contributor to the economic life of the region (and the UK generally). Thus, an economic impact report commissioned in 2008 shows that the John Innes Centre contributes over £170M annually to the UK economy, demonstrating both the impact and relevance of the excellent scientific research undertaken, and validating the investment of public funding to support it. [...]