Tag: institutes

  • An inspiring start

    Uncategorized | Jackie Hunter

    My first two weeks at BBSRC are nearly over and I can honestly say that they have lived up to my expectations – i.e. variety, great science and people and a wee bit of travel…

    Last week, as well as spending time in Swindon, I also visited the Norwich Research Park which was hosting the quarterly meeting of the directors of the National Institutes of Bioscience at The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC). The meeting chair was Mario Caccamo who was recently appointed as the head of TGAC. The TGAC staff also talked about their work at a poster display but highlights from all the institutes were discussed. [...]

  • Development sciences, Council, scientific writing, and Athena Swan Silver

    Uncategorized | Douglas Kell

    The first major external meeting of last week was of the UK Collaborative for Development Sciences, where inter alia we were addressed by Peter Piot, Director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and onetime discoverer of the Ebola virus.

    We also had my last Council meeting, followed by our Remuneration Board. Council now has themed meetings, and this one concentrated on the Institutes that enjoy BBSRC’s strategic support. [...]

  • Appointments Board, responsible capitalism, and the Norwich Research Park

    Uncategorized | Douglas Kell

    I attended (briefly) my last Appointments Board. One of the – fortunately electronic – papers  had no fewer than 1,223 pages, which might well be taken as illustrative of the hard work of our Appointments Board, and the care with which potential candidates for our Boards and Committees are appointed. I also enjoyed a very useful discussion of how responsible capitalism can drive the real (as opposed to funny-money-based) economy.

    However, the main external visit of last week, accompanied by RCUK Chair and AHRC Chief Executive Rick Rylance and my successor Prof Jackie Hunter, was to the Norwich Research Park. As well as visiting the three Institutes there that enjoy BBSRC’s strategic support, we toured the new Centrum building that is presently going up. From its roof, it became clear quite how large an operation this is! There is a great deal of difference between looking at a plan with Monopoly-sized houses on it and seeing a landscape that for as far as one can see will come to be populated by substantial incubators and fully fledged businesses. The potential is simply huge! [...]

  • Pirbright, Institutes, France and farming

    Uncategorized | Douglas Kell

    An early meeting last week was with Shabana Mahmood MP, Shadow Minister for Universities and Skills, where I was able to give a detailed briefing on BBSRC and our role in the Bioeconomy.

    RCUK Chief Executives and others had a very good meeting with a high-level French delegation, including François Houllier, President of INRA. I also had a very useful one with the Commercial Farmers Group. [...]

  • Institutes conference, the Unity of Biology and GM

    Uncategorized | Douglas Kell

    Last week I attended our National Institutes of the Biosciences conference, this time held at the Roslin Institute, where (as last time in Norwich) we heard a range of absolutely stunning talks across the range of our remit, as you would expect from a country whose biological science is number one in the world. It would be quite egregious to pick out any or many “highlights”, but a major point of a conference such as this is the cross-fertilisation that comes when you bring different experts together with different knowledge, techniques and background, but which – because of the essential unity of biology, and indeed of science – can be applied elsewhere. So for my own work – which only infrequently includes mammalian cell biology, and whose conferences I almost never attend – I saw some fabulous images of intracellular organisation (as in this paper) from Peter Fraser and colleagues at Babraham, using one method which may be of considerable use for a problem in which I am interested. The fruits of modern genome sequencing methods (as in that of an ash dieback survivor) were also becoming especially manifest at this meeting (which also featured a call for more ‘mathematicians’ sensu lato in biology). I myself gave a plenary on our drug transporter systems biology work (as in this and this). I particularly enjoyed a plenary from Edinburgh’s Andrew Millar, who (after a typically erudite rehearsal of his work on the systems biology of circadian clocks, including cases that required no transcription) showed us how some fairly straightforward modelling explained why banking and other financial systems lacking the appropriate negative feedback loops (i.e. proper regulation) were doomed to explode. Some simple remedies exist (see an excellent paper (pdf) from the IMF for instance, and the New Economics Foundation). 90-97% of all present debt has been created by commercial banks lending money to people using (or against) assets they did not entirely have, a well-tested recipe for disaster, and one with an obvious and well-established set of solutions (also already explained by Haldane and May, among others). [...]