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BBSRC announces new make-up of its Council

3 April 2009

Three new members have been appointed to the Council of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) by Lord Drayson, Minister for Science and Innovation.

The new members are:

  • Professor David Baulcombe
  • Mr Jim Godfrey
  • Professor Peter Grindrod

The appointments are with effect from 1 April 2009 and are for a period of four years.

One current member of BBSRC Council has been reappointed for a further three years:

  • Professor Peter Fryer

Commenting on the new appointments, BBSRC Chairman Dr Peter Ringrose said: "These individuals bring a wealth of experience from the academic, commercial and business sectors. BBSRC stands to benefit greatly from such eminently qualified council members and their international standing will surely help BBSRC to meet the challenge of maintaining the UK’s world-leading position in bioscience research. The UK bioscience community, as well as BBSRC’s numerous stakeholders in policy making, business and the wider public, can be confident in the ability of our Council to continue to guide BBSRC in a way that will ensure we address many of the global challenges now faced by all of us.

"I am also delighted that Professor Fryer will continue his membership of the Council for an additional term."

Professor David Baulcombe
Professor Baulcombe is Professor of Botany at the University of Cambridge and holds a Royal Society Research Professorship. He won the 2008 Albert Lasker Award for Medical Research, which recognised his groundbreaking discovery of small RNA molecules – siRNAs – that regulate gene function.

The current focus of Professor Baulcombe’s research is on the mechanisms of siRNA-mediated gene regulation and their influence on natural variation. In addition, his interest in the influence of siRNA on heritable effects that do not involve changes to the sequence of the genome – so-called epigenetic effects – is central to understanding the issue of nature versus nurture.

An interest in the use of plant biotechnology for crop improvement for developing countries led Professor Baulcombe to join a consortium that addresses sweet potato virus disease. He also sits on several editorial and scientific advisory boards and is a member of various panels and committees including the Royal Society council. He was until recently a member of BBSRC’s Agrifood committee.

Mr Jim Godfrey
Mr Godfrey is a fellow of the Royal Agricultural Societies and in 2002 was awarded the OBE for services to agricultural research in Scotland. He is director of several family farming businesses and has been involved in numerous other businesses and organisations, including the International Potato Centre, the Roslin Institute, the Scottish Crop Research Institute and the Potato Marketing Board, where he has gained a reputation for successfully leading important directional changes.

With an international standing in the agricultural sector, in particular the potato industry, Mr Godfrey has been involved as a director, chairman, council member, member or advisor with agricultural, business and academic organisations on a local, national and international level. He has been an adviser to the House of Lords, and the Universities of Reading and Warwick and currently sits as council member of the Royal Agricultural Society of England.

Professor Peter Grindrod
Professor Grindrod is an internationally known mathematician and holds the position of Professor of Mathematics and its Applications at the University of Reading. He was awarded the CBE in 2005 for services to mathematics research and development and is a former President of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications.

Working within the commercial sector for over seventeen years Professor Grindrod has most recently managed the origination, development and application of informatics methods to gain value through business insights. His academic research has largely focussed on the mathematical analysis of reaction diffusion systems and their applications, and he has worked in a multidisciplinary environment that bridges the remits of both BBSRC and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). Professor Grindrod is a former member of EPSRC council and has been an advisor and contributor to EPSRC and cross-council initiatives.

Professor Peter Fryer
Professor Fryer is Head of Chemical Engineering at the University of Birmingham. He has been a member of BBSRC Council since 1 May 2006. In 2001 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and that same year was appointed Director of the Engineering Doctoral Centre in Formulation Engineering, which has just received five years more funding from EPSRC. The Centre carries out industry-linked interdisciplinary research in the design of formulated products, such as foods, pharmaceuticals and personal care products, and currently has research links to most of the major companies in the sector.


Notes to editors

BBSRC Council is the senior decision making body responsible for determining the policy, priorities and strategy of BBSRC. Appointments are made in accordance with the OCPA Code of Practice.

All appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process. However, in accordance with the original Nolan recommendations, there is a requirement for appointees political activity (if any declared) to be made public. Professor Baulcombe has declared the following activity with the Labour Party:

  • Held office as Chair, Treasurer or Secretary of a local branch or party
  • Canvassed on behalf of a party or helped at elections
  • Member and Chair/Ward Organiser for local branch

None of the other appointees has declared any political activity or holds any other Ministerial appointments. Each will receive an honorarium of £6,740 pa.

Details of Council Members’ interests are available on the BBSRC website.


The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £450M in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life for UK citizens and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors. BBSRC carries out its mission by funding internationally competitive research, providing training in the biosciences, fostering opportunities for knowledge transfer and innovation and promoting interaction with the public and other stakeholders on issues of scientific interest in universities, centres and institutes.

The Babraham Institute, Institute for Animal Health, Institute of Food Research, John Innes Centre and Rothamsted Research are Institutes of BBSRC. The Institutes conduct long-term, mission-oriented research using specialist facilities. They have strong interactions with industry, Government departments and other end-users of their research.


Matt Goode, Head of External Relations

tel: 01793 413299

Tracey Jewitt, Media Officer

tel: 01793 414694
fax: 01793 413382