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Biosciences under the microscope

23 February 2011

BIOSI Advisory boardCaption: (back row, left to right) Professor Anders Björklund, Professor John Heath, Professor Oleg Krishtal, Professor Ole Petersen, Professor Michel Lazdunski, Professor James Tiedje, Professor Arthur Konnerth (front row, left to right) Professor Dame Louise Johnson, Professor Kim Barrett. Board member Professor Charles Godfray was unable to attend

The School of Bioscience’s International Scientific Advisory Board has met for the first time, carrying out an in-depth study of the School and making recommendations for its future.

The Advisory Board consists of nine leading academics from around the world, representing the fields of study covered by the School.

The Board’s three-day visit began with a day-long symposium Frontiers in Biological Sciences at Amgueddfa Cymru- National Museum Wales. All the Board members gave presentations, along with representatives of all the School’s research divisions about their latest studies.

The Board then spent two days touring the School and interviewing a large number of staff. They gave a preliminary oral report about their findings at the end of the visit and will follow this up with a formal written report. This will be particularly relevant to the School’s preparations for its Research Excellence Framework (REF) submissions.

Professor Kim Barrett of the University of California, San Diego, who chairs the Board, said: "The Board were very impressed with the range of investigation into Biological Sciences, the productivity of the faculty, the enthusiasm of the students, and the impact the research outcomes are having across the scientific world and the broader community. The symposium was also a marvellous event, which really showcased some outstanding work by members of the School."

Some of the Board Members were seeing the School for the first time. Professor Jim Tiedje, member of the US National Academy of Sciences and Director of the Centre for Microbial Ecology at Michigan State University, said: "In the Organisms and Environment Division, I found very effective use of molecular science in ecological research that really puts this School at the forefront internationally. That kind of activity has the potential to build our understanding of the impact of climate change and other environmental challenges."

Professor Michel Lazdunski, member of l’Academie des Sciences (France) and founder of the CNRS Institute of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology in Sophia Antipolis, who was an international member of the Life Science Main Panel in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, said: "I have been impressed by the number and diversity of disciplines in the School and by the scientific activity of many of the research teams. I have also been impressed, but not surprised, by the remarkable organization of the event. Ole Petersen clearly has already done very much, in a few months, to reorganize the school and to introduce a new spirit."

The Director of the School, Professor Ole Petersen FRS said: "We are extremely grateful that such a distinguished panel from around the world were able to join us for three days. The advice they have given us is extremely valuable and we shall be taking their ideas forward, particularly as we build up to the REF."

The other members of the International Scientific Advisory Board are:

Professor Anders Björklund, University of Lund, Sweden
Professor Ole Krishtal, Bogomoletz Institute of Physiology, Kiev, Ukraine
Professor John Heath, University of Birmingham
Professor Dame Louise Johnson FRS, University of Oxford
Professor Arthur Konnerth, Technical University Munich
Professor Charles Godfray FRS, University of Oxford