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! [...]
Tag: synthetic biology
I can’t believe that we are already in February! Since coming back from my holiday at the beginning of January (long planned family trip to the sun somewhat marred initially by Force 8 gales in the Atlantic), I have been meeting a number of key stakeholders in BIS, both individually and with my RCUK Chief Executive colleagues, one occasion being the regular RCUK Executive Group meeting with David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science.
These meetings have only served to emphasise the importance of communicating our impact in ways that are clear and easily understandable to non-specialists. As I have said before we have great stories to tell, but we need to tailor the message to the intended audience more effectively. [...]
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. [...]
The week began with a ‘Research Showcase’ event in the Palace of Westminster, highlighting the contribution made by five HEIs to various grand challenges, including bioenergy, and attracting some 30 MPs and members of the Upper House.
Most other meetings were internal, but I did enjoy a very interesting visit to the National Centre for Earth Observation where Robert Gurney showed me some of the very nice online tools they are producing for mashing up environmental and other data. Some of these may well be applicable to other datasets (and I note our call for crowd sourcing applications). I also had a very useful discussion with Sir John Beddington on environmental monitoring, an area where NERC and ourselves share some common interests. [...]
Among a number of our community who were honoured in Her Majesty’s list of New Year Honours (pdf), I was especially delighted to see that our Deputy CEO and Chief Operating Officer Steve Visscher had been awarded a richly deserved CBE, for Services to the Support of Scientific Research. BBSRC’s formal announcement is elsewhere, so here all I shall record is many congratulations indeed to Steve!
Just before the break, the Government’s Intellectual Property Office published an important updated response (pdf) to the Hargreaves Review, setting down clear guidance as to how copyright is to be modernized to allow (among other things) researchers to make the best fair use of published research – which by definition needs to be Open Access. While Open Access has some transition costs (financial and otherwise) I do hope that UK researchers will be alive, encouraged, and thereby well placed, to exploit the opportunities that such Open Access brings for innovation. [...]