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BBSRC launches consultation on committee structure

7 June 2006

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) has today launched a consultation on its future committee structure, with the aim of ensuring that they are best able to review today’s increasingly multidisciplinary bioscience. The Council is calling on its research community to contribute views on the strengths and weaknesses of the current structure of seven committees via an online questionnaire.

BBSRC’s research grant committees currently award over £180M p.a. of responsive mode funding and the structure of seven committees has remained unchanged since the Council’s inception in 1994. In the last 12 years the biosciences have expanded and changed hugely. Large-scale, cross-cutting, multi- and interdisciplinary applications have grown, in line with BBSRC strategy, and now make up a significant proportion of demand for BBSRC grants. With every sign that this trend will continue, BBSRC wants to hear from the research community whether the current committee structure is the most suitable to meet these new challenges.

The consultation has been launched with no outlined options for change, allowing the research community to comment on all possibilities. The Council is particularly interested in exploring views on whether a smaller number of committees, each responsible for more of BBSRC’s remit and with a larger, flexible group of committee members, would be an effective option.

Professor Nigel Brown, BBSRC Director of Science and Technology, explained: “When BBSRC was established in 1994 bioscience research was predominantly single investigator, single discipline based. This is just not the case any more and we need to make sure BBSRC’s research grant committee structure is best set up to review ambitious, cutting-edge science. We want to hear from the community about all aspects of the committee structure and also whether current and future research would be better served by fewer committees, with flexible remit boundaries to encompass cross-cutting science.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

The consultation will run until Friday 29 September 2006

BBSRC is particularly welcoming collective responses from institutions or representative bodies, but would also appreciate responses from indviduals.

Following an analysis of the results of the consultation, options for the future structure of the committees will be considered by BBSRC Council.

A separate consultation on the content and priorities of BBSRC science is already underway. Neither consultation is looking at BBSRC’s remit, which remains unchanged.

The seven current BBSRC research grant committees are:

  • Agri-Food
  • Animal Sciences
  • Biochemistry and Cell Biology
  • Biomolecular Sciences
  • Engineering and Biological Systems
  • Genes and Developmental Biology
  • Plant and Microbial Sciences

The research grant committees are responsible for delivering BBSRC’s £186M responsive mode research funding (figures for 2006-07). Committees do not have separate budgets. For each round of funding a central responsive mode budget is calculated and a success rate is applied consistently as a percentage by number of applications across all committees.

Contact

Matt Goode, Head of External Relations

tel: 01793 413299
fax: 01793 413382

Tracey Jewitt, Media Officer

tel: 01793 414694
fax: 01793 413382