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BBSRC publishes review of 2008-09

4 August 2009

The Annual Report and Accounts of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) have been published today.

An excellent year of world-class science from the BBSRC research community is reviewed in the report. The contribution bioscience is making to the economy and society, in the UK and globally, is recognised and examples of BBSRC science delivering excellence with impact are highlighted.

The Annual Report and Accounts are available from: www.bbsrc.ac.uk/publications/accounts

Professor Douglas Kell, BBSRC Chief Executive said: “In the last year, BBSRC has built on previous achievements to see world-leading bioscience translated into real benefits for the UK economy and wider society. This has been through continued commitment to scientific excellence, an increased emphasis on training and skills and a broad focus on effective translation of excellent science into economic and social impacts. These are achievements BBSRC and its funded scientists really be proud of and we look forward to making a global contribution, especially in areas of increasing importance such as food security and bioenergy.”

BBSRC’s achievements during 2008-09 include:

  • The launch of the BBSRC Sustainable Bioenergy Centre (BSBEC) in January 2009. A total of £27M has been invested with £20M coming from BBSRC, making it the largest single UK public investment in ‘second generation’ bioenergy research
  • BBSRC is leading development of a ‘roadmap’ for providing the UK with the capability to meet national and global demands for food over the next 20-30 years. A workshop in February 2009 analysed key elements for consultation during summer 2009
  • Seven ‘Networks for Synthetic Biology’ have been established in partnership with EPSRC to facilitate multidisciplinary research and development of new research tools. They also address specific research questions, such as designing proteins to act as catalysts in electrical devises and techniques for programming interactions between biological and artificial cells
  • A move from single grants to the five BBSRC-sponsored institutes to small numbers of strategic programme grants, allowing Directors to focus resources on major scientific themes where institutes are internationally competitive

During the past year the BBSRC research community has demonstrated the UK’s world class bioscience base. Highlights from BBSRC-funded scientists include:

  • Work at the Institute for Animal Health on surveillance and mitigation of bluetongue disease has been estimated to have saved £485M and 10,000 jobs in the UK in 2008 alone
  • BBSRC funded scientists at the John Innes Centre have produced purple tomatoes with raised levels of anthocyanins - a property shown to have benefits to cancer-prone mice when they eat the tomatoes over a long period
  • Professor Sir David Baulcombe FRS was a joint recipient of the 2008 Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research, recognising the plant scientist’s contribution to our understanding of small silencing RNAs, which are implicated in disease
  • Basic research, funded by BBSRC, is attracting investment in new companies such as Procarta Biosystems Ltd (combating superbugs, such as MRSA), Reinnervate (neural stem cell products), Asterion Ltd (therapeutic proteins) and Bioniqs Ltd (waste recycling alternatives to landfill)
  • The news of clinicians in Spain successfully treating a woman using stem cells to replace her diseased windpipe was an excellent example where BBSRC supported research in basic cell biology has underpinned an important advance in clinical medicine

ENDS

Notes to editors

The BBSRC 2008-09 Annual Report and Accounts have been laid before Parliament. BBSRC is required by Schedule 1 to the Science and Technology Act 1965 to submit a report on its activities to Parliament.

Copies of the Annual Report and Accounts are available on request or from: www.bbsrc.ac.uk/publications/accounts.

About BBSRC

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.

Contact

Matt Goode, Head of External Relations

tel: 01793 413299

Tracey Jewitt, Media Officer

tel: 01793 414694
fax: 01793 413382