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Strategic plan: World-class bioscience
Maintaining the UK’s position as a global leader
BBSRC has a major role in supporting the training of PhD students, funding over 2000 at any one time, around 40% of whom are co-supported with industry
UK bioscience ranks with the best in the world (footnote 1). We will keep it that way by funding high quality research and training across our remit. We will foster world-class institutions which are engaged internationally and have access to state-of-the-art facilities. A robust, modern and outward facing research base, which meets user needs, is essential to derive the greatest impact from the public investment in science.
High quality research and skills
Excellent research and excellent people are cornerstones of BBSRC’s strategy. We will operate flexible and efficient funding streams from small, pump-priming or proof-of-concept studies through to strategic longer, larger programmes of research. Responsive mode funding continues to be a high priority, enabling us to support the best ideas from the best people, and providing vital agility to respond to emerging areas.
Our funding for a broad range of bioscience will be balanced with an appropriate degree of focus on priorities where we can have the most impact and maintain crucial capacity.
Developing and retaining a diverse community of highly skilled researchers is vital to the strength of the science base and to attracting industries and investment to the UK. We will invest in the research skills base, supporting and developing researchers throughout their careers from PhD to highlevel leadership through our studentship and fellowship programmes ( see Enabling theme 1 - Knowledge exchange, innovation and skills).
Fundamental research by Professor Sir Martin Evans and colleagues led to the development of a gene knockout technology which won the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine/Physiology. The technique has enabled scientists to study novel aspects of mammalian physiology
Maintaining key capability - molecules to systems
Since 2003 BBSRC has driven predictive, integrative and systems approaches in bioscience at a range of scales from molecules to agricultural landscapes. Our major investment has positioned the UK as a leading nation for systems biology, and this Strategic Plan develops that trajectory further ( see Enabling theme 2 - Exploiting new ways of working).
Maintaining strength in core underpinning disciplines such as molecular, chemical, cellular and structural biology is a high priority. Major breakthroughs in recent years, including those recognised by Nobel Prizes awarded to UK scientists, have depended on basic cellular and molecular research. Our strength in these disciplines also provides many of the detailed parameters that make systems models possible.
BBSRC-funded research and training drives discovery of new leads for drugs or prevention strategies through improved understanding of biological mechanisms underlying normal growth and development. Our bioscience helps sustain the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries in the UK, where the flow of ideas, skills and key capabilities between academia and user sectors provides mutual benefit.
World-class institutions and facilities
£100M investment for redevelopment of The Pirbright Institute, formerly the Institute for Animal Health, will strengthen the UK’s strategic capability to protect livestock and other animals, including people, from infectious diseases. Copyright: IAH
To remain internationally competitive in bioscience, the UK must have the highest quality research environments in our universities and institutes.
We fund 8 mission-driven institutes, which provide critical national capability and expertise in strategically important areas, and are central to delivering our vision and priorities. Two of these institutes, IBERS and Roslin, are embedded within universities.
BBSRC will continue to foster excellence across the university bioscience research base. Furthermore, we will establish close strategic partnerships with key universities that have strengths in our priority areas, such as food security, so that we can deliver advances in these areas more efficiently.
Immunofluorescence deconvolution micrograph of a cell infected with vaccinia virus particles
Strength through partnerships
We cannot achieve our ambitions for bioscience on our own. Modern bioscience is becoming increasingly ‘big’ science, requiring multi-centre and multi-funder efforts. We will foster national and international links with the best researchers and organisations in the world to gain access to facilities and leverage our own funding for greater impact. We will work closely with industry and other users to support the translation of BBSRC science into practical applications.
Public engagement and dialogue is a vital part of our partnerships strategy ( see Enabling theme 3 - Partnerships). The full impact of bioscience will not be realised unless society is enabled to participate in the great strides being made.
Some key priorities 2010-2015
- Ensure UK bioscience has a broad and robust base - strong in core disciplines, skills and infrastructure
- Drive excellence through researcher-led projects and programmes, giving high priority to responsive mode funding
- Balance the breadth of our funding with focus on strategic priority areas
- Ensure funding and peer review meets the challenges of modern bioscience – in particular to deal with multidisciplinary grant applications, larger programmes of work and the development of new tools and resources
- Maintain strength in core underpinning disciplines such as molecular, chemical, cellular and structural biology, as well as key strategic areas, such as plant and animal sciences, where BBSRC is the main public funder
- Stimulate wider use of multidisciplinary, systems and predictive approaches to bioscience
- Forge new strategic partnerships with key universities for co-delivery of our mutual priorities, particularly in the area of food security research and skills
- Ensure that engagement with industry, other users and the public influences science strategy and capacity
- Drive culture change to deliver impact
- International comparative performance of the UK research base, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, September 2009
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