Tag: synthetic biology

  • Blueprints for life and synthetic biology

    Uncategorized | Melanie Welham

    During my formative years, I recall reading Stephen Rose’s Penguin paperback The Chemistry of Life. While providing inspiration for me to pursue a career in biochemistry, the text opens with an interesting analogy between cooking and biochemistry. I have often recalled this line when experimenting in the lab (and also when cooking up a culinary storm!) and I was reminded of it again when reading the most recent paper from Craig Venter and colleagues reflecting that we actually have rather a long way to go before we fully understand all the essential ‘ingredients’ (in the form of the DNA) that provide the ‘minimal’ blueprint for life. […]

  • The bioeconomy, agricultural chief scientists and can you help with tackling inappropriate behaviour?

    Uncategorized | Jackie Hunter

    So the spending review (PDF) is hurtling towards us and the magnitude of the challenge really does mean that we will all have to be as innovative as possible in how we carry out our activities moving forward. Of course productivity is a key area of focus for the government and the UK’s excellence in basic bioscience research positions it well to underpin future economic growth both in the short and long term. BBSRC has been supportive of the Agri-tech, Synthetic Biology and Industrial Biotechnology leadership councils in their articulation of the benefits of the bioeconomy to the UK and the coherent framework it provides for future investment. The bioeconomy stretches across all the Research Councils as well as a number of different government departments. Many countries have recognised the importance of the bioeconomy and have produced bioeconomy strategies including the USA (PDF), Australia and Sweden (PDF). These official national approaches have been academically reviewed by Louise Staffas and colleagues in the journal Sustainability. […]

  • Strengthening a transatlantic bioscience partnership – part one

    Uncategorized | Jackie Hunter

    BBSRC colleagues and I have just spent a very intense but extremely interesting week in the USA. We had two main aims – to meet some world-leading US-based bioscientists to understand where they saw the direction of their science over the next 5-10 years and to hold discussions with major US federal research funders on current and future strategy and opportunities for closer partnership. Both sets of discussions will inform our spending review preparations and the next iteration of our strategic plan. They also provided some useful insights into our current strategy and a perspective from the USA on where the strengths of UK bioscience lie. […]

  • A week in California

    Uncategorized | Jackie Hunter

    The past week and a bit was spent on the US West Coast, talking to experts in Big Data, Synthetic Biology (Synbio) and Plant and Animal Health. My colleagues, Melanie Welham and Amanda Collis, and I had some fascinating discussions which really helped put our plans for the next spending review in an international context. For example, in Synbio, it is clear that the approach needs to be truly multidisciplinary with a well-articulated biological problem at the heart of any programme rather than developing the tools and technologies in the abstract. However, investment in platforms is still required. It is also clear from talking to a number of researchers that the USA does not have an integrated Big Data strategy nor an overall Synbio strategy, although there are many well-funded initiatives. I wonder whether there is a need for some global solution for integrating and maintaining databases when funding terminates for a particular area. In the biomedical/health space, this might be something for Gates Foundation or another global funder to address in partnership with more regional funders. Who funds, and what to store permanently and how, is definitely something that needs more debate. […]

  • Recognition and reward

    Uncategorized | Jackie Hunter

    Over the past few weeks I have been heartened to see how contributions to bioscience can be recognised and celebrated. John O’Keefe received the Nobel Prize for his studies on place recognition and neural mapping of the position in rodents at the beginning of October. BBSRC has funded this work over the years and I remember teaching some of the results from the early studies when I was an Open University tutor! […]