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2019 call for expressions of interest to join our Pool of Experts, and Follow-on Fund Committee

Call status: Closed
Previous call: 13 June 2019 - 23 July 2019


BBSRC, as part of UK Research and Innovation, plays a crucial role in the health and vibrancy of UK bioscience. Every year we invest more than £450 million on behalf of the UK public in research, innovation, training and capabilities in universities and institutes across the UK. Our aim is to sustain the excellence of, and maximise impact from, the UK bioscience community by furthering scientific knowledge, promoting economic growth and improving the quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Our research investments support frontier bioscience that advances our understanding of the fundamental rules of life and drives the development of transformative and innovative technologies. The forward look for UK bioscience is structured around three themes that outline key challenges for the years ahead:

  • Advancing the frontiers of bioscience discovery: understanding the rules of life; transformative technologies
  • Tackling strategic challenges: bioscience for sustainable agriculture and food; bioscience for renewable resources and clean growth; bioscience for an integrated understanding of health
  • Building strong foundations: people and talent; infrastructure, collaboration, partnership and knowledge exchange

Call for expressions of interest

Peer review is a vital part of the decision making process that supports our investment in bioscience. Members of our assessment Research Committees and the Pool of Experts provide expert knowledge and insight to ensure that we invest in important and high-quality research, innovation and training in the biosciences. Through this role, members also gain insight into the future direction of bioscience research and innovation.

In this call, we are inviting expressions of interest to join our:

We are seeking expressions of interest from individuals who have expertise to provide credible opinion of the merit of proposals for funding submitted to BBSRC, as described in the selection criteria. Appointments will be made by UKRI-BBSRC’s Appointments Board on the basis of individual knowledge and experience, and the need for expertise in particular research and innovation areas. As part of this programme we also aspire to better reflect the diversity and experience across the breadth of the bioscience community spanning the realms of academia, industry and policy.

Person specification

Detailed information about the requirements for the different positions is provided in the role descriptions and expertise requirements.

All applicants are expected to provide evidence of:

  • Your ability to use your own expertise and experience to assess the scientific excellence and strategic relevance of research
  • Your skills and experience that demonstrate your ability to understand and assess the potential outputs and outcomes of research
  • Outputs and contributions to your area for research or innovation. For example, publications, patents and other IP, software development, company creation or leadership, professional accreditation, involvement in collaborative research and development projects, policy/public engagement, awards etc.
  • Presence in your community for example invited presentations, talks at leading conferences in the field, experience of sitting on advisory boards, peer review boards or panels, thought-leadership roles etc.

The types of evidence required will depend on the background of the applicant:

Academic applicants:

  • Evidence of a research portfolio and competitively obtained grant funding. Typically, successful applicants will have been awarded at least one grant in the last five years. This can include the award of a fellowship.

Non-academic applicants, including Business, Technology Transfer Office (TTO) and Policy professionals:

  • Evidence of experience in research, development or innovation with technical knowledge deployed in a business, commercial or policy environment
  • Evidence to demonstrate an understanding of the academic innovation and business landscape (for example through interaction with Universities or Institutes, participation in innovation networks or commercialisation accelerators).

For all roles, we expect you to be able to commit the necessary time and attention to your appointment and to have the full support or the necessary permission of your employer.

Assessment process

Expressions of interest will be reviewed initially by BBSRC staff against the criteria set out in the person specification and role descriptions. Recommendations will be made to UKRI-BBSRC’s Appointments Board, which is responsible for making appointments.

UKRI-BBSRC Appointments Board has delegated authority from the UKRI-BBSRC Executive Chair and is responsible for making decisions on appointments. The Appointments Board Chair is a member of UKRI-BBSRC Council, the Deputy Chair and members are representatives of the community.

In addition to reviewing applications against the criteria for appointment, the Appointments Board will consider people diversity, institutional and industry balance as part of its decision making process. BBSRC seeks to balance institutional representation on our Boards, Panels and Committees. Consequently, there may be competition for places if applicants come from the same institution or organisation, and particularly if those applicants have similar expertise. If your institution or organisation is already represented on a Committee or the Pool of Experts, it will not prevent you from being appointed, but it will be important to demonstrate the distinctiveness and relevance of your expertise and experience.

Equality and diversity

We recognise that diverse ideas, experiences, backgrounds and perspectives are fundamental to successful science and innovation and we are committed to ensuring that our Committees, Panels and Boards are inclusive, diverse, and representative of the research community.

Through this appointment activity, we aspire to improve the diversity of the Committees and Pool of Experts. We are committed to the principle of providing equal opportunities for all. We are keen to obtain more diversity in our appointments so would welcome applications from a range of candidates from all backgrounds. Applications from women, those with a disability, and members of minority ethnic groups, who are currently under represented on the pool, are especially welcome. Applications from business, user and government colleagues are also particularly encouraged. We are also keen to encourage applications from experts based overseas.

An Equality and Impact Assessment has been developed to support and inform applicants, and ensure that we enable participation and attendance at meetings. For example, we use venues that have good transport links and are accessible, we will also contribute towards additional costs for caring responsibilities to enable you to attend. Please do not hesitate to contact the office if you wish to discuss further.

To support us in assessing how effective our policies and procedures are in eliminating unlawful discrimination and promoting opportunities, we ask that you provide diversity information that will be used anonymously by BBSRC for statistical purposes. This information will be treated in confidence by BBSRC and will not be used in the assessment of applications.

Career breaks and flexible working

Time spent outside the active research and business environment, whether through career breaks or flexible working will be taken into account in the assessment process.

Applicants should indicate any substantive periods of absence within their application. Further details on the nature of the absence and how it has affected track record, productivity and career progression may be provided, if desired. Information provided will be used only to make appropriate adjustments when assessing an individual’s track record, productivity and career progression.

In assessing the effects of career breaks or flexible working, the Appointments Board will note the applicant’s career trajectory and potential at the beginning of a break, relative to the stage of the applicant’s career and/or professional standing. In assessing applicants, panels will recognise that the effects on productivity of a career break, or a period of flexible working, may continue beyond the return to work.

Safeguarding good scientific practice

As a public investor in research, BBSRC aims to facilitate the highest standards for research integrity. The research councils of UKRI are signatory to the UK Concordat to Support Integrity (PDF); BBSRC also implements the Research Councils’ Guidelines and Policy on Good Research Conduct (PDF), alongside our guidance on safeguarding good scientific practice. Appointees to BBSRC Committees, Panels and Pool of Experts are expected to be aware of their obligations in regard to these policies.

Applicants are requested to declare if they are, or have been, subject to any current or past scientific misconduct investigation(s). BBSRC Office reserves the right to reject any application where such issues are considered an impediment to the individual holding a public appointment. This information will be treated in confidence.

How to apply

This call is closed to applications.

Applicants should:

Applicants can apply for one position (Follow-on Fund Committee or Pool of Experts) only.

The survey contains the following sections:

  1. Personal information (for example name, organisation, contact details)
  2. Diversity information, including information about career breaks and flexible working
  3. Your primary expertise areas: You should indicate up to three research and innovation areas where you offer sufficient expertise to be able to provide credible assessment.
  4. Free text sections:
    • Personal statement: You should describe why you are interested in the role and what you will bring to it (maximum 200 words)
    • Expertise and experience: You should describe the expertise and experience that you can you offer and provide the evidence to demonstrate this.

Key dates

Call open 13 June 2019
Application deadline 23 July 2019, 16:00
BBSRC Office review of applications August – October 2019
Appointments Board meeting Mid November 2019
Outcomes communicated Mid December 2019

Follow-on Fund Committee

Our Follow-on Fund (FoF) supports the translation of research into practical application, including commercialisation. The aim of the programme is to help researchers maximise the societal and economic benefits of their research. The FoF is a proof-of-concept programme to support bioscience innovation and provide funding where further work on an idea will take it through to a stage at which the route to application is clear, which may include the creation of a spin-out company, licensing opportunity or the creation of a social enterprise. The programme enables researchers to undertake technical and business development activities essential to preparing a robust business plan and to secure, where appropriate, further funding and support to progress the project.

We are looking to appoint six new members with experience of supporting and enabling innovation from business and academia. Appointments to the FoF Committee will be for up to three years.

What does the role involve?

Committee members will be required to attend up to two meetings per year, each lasting one day, and to assess some smaller awards by correspondence on an ad-hoc basis.

On occasion Committee members may be asked to contribute to the assessment of other translational calls developed by BBSRC in response to new funding opportunities. We aim to ensure that these additional requests are distributed evenly across Committee members.

Role profile

In addition to the person specification, candidates for FOF Committee are expected to evidence and demonstrate:

  • Your experience in supporting and enabling innovation.

Expertise requirements

We are seeking applicants with expertise in the following areas:

  • Animal health
  • Synthetic biology
  • Industrial biotechnology and bioenergy
  • Cell and molecular biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Crop and plant science.

Pool of Experts

BBSRC’s investment decisions are underpinned by a high quality peer review process with applications for funding being assessed by BBSRC Assessment Committees and Panels. The membership of these assessment bodies is typically drawn from an appointed Pool of Experts. Members of the Pool of Experts may also be invited to participate in other activities for BBSRC, such as attending expert working groups and advisory panel meetings. Members of the Pool of Experts are expected to make all reasonable efforts to undertake the peer review of proposals for UKRI when invited to do so, unless there is a conflict of interest or the proposal is outside of their area of expertise.

Appointments to the Pool of Experts will be for up to three years.

In 2019, we are looking to appoint new members to the Pool of Experts with expertise in the following specific areas, only:

Further information about the expertise requirements is provided below.

What does the role involve?

As a member of the Pool of Experts, you

  • will play a key role in delivering our mission through participating in the assessment of research grant applications and identifying the highest quality research for investment
  • will typically attend one or two assessment meetings per year, each of up to two days duration. At these meetings, your role is to lead on the assessment of up to twelve research grant proposals and to contribute to the assessment of other proposals, as required
  • may be invited to participate in other activities to support the work of BBSRC, for example reviewing proposals, serving on other assessment panels, participating in expert working groups.

Pool of Experts members typically serve on our Research Committees, leading on the assessment of our responsive mode grant applications. The Research Committees meet in February, May and September.

Pool of Expert members are required to attend a one day induction, which includes a simulated assessment meeting, before serving on a Committee.

Travel and subsistence will be paid, along with an honorarium of £170 per meeting. Pool of Experts members who are not invited to attend a panel meeting may be asked to assist with the reviewing of applications.

Role profile

In addition to the person specification, candidates for the Pool of Experts are expected to evidence and demonstrate that you:

  • Have sufficient expertise to be able to offer a credible scientific opinion of the scientific merit of grant applications submitted to BBSRC. You should be able to provide an assessment that is knowledgeable, informed, and impartial. You should be able to demonstrate your suitability through your research interest, funding track record and publications (where appropriate).

Expertise requirements

We are looking to appoint members to each of the following areas:

  • Agricultural systems research

    We are looking for applications from individuals with expertise in integrating at the farm level understanding of the interactions between different components of agricultural systems and with the wider landscape, linking crops/farmed animals with their environments and management.

    We recognise the highly multidisciplinary nature of this area, and we welcome applications from researchers that additionally have experience of work involving disciplines outside of the biological sciences such as the natural environment and social science.

  • Biological basis of human behaviour

    We are looking for applications from individuals with expertise in areas relevant to understanding the biological basis/mechanisms of human behaviour, for example:

    • emotion, attention, cognition, decision making, mood, sleep disruption, stress, mental health
    • modulation by factors such as developmental processes, early life adversity, nutrition, physical activity, ageing, sleep/stress, social experiences and environment
    • Human cellular neuroscience and in particular, techniques such as optogenetics, fMRI, EEG and non-invasive stimulation
    • Gut-brain-axis including the microbiome, appetite, satiety, food choice
    • Qualitative analysis of human behaviour, including the use of behaviour surveys.
  • Drosophila as a model organism

    We are looking for applications from individuals with expertise in the use of Drosophila as a model organism in molecular, genetic, systems, anatomical, developmental, nutrition, microbiome and/or ageing research.

  • Epigenetics

    We are looking for applications from individuals with expertise in the field of epigenetics, with particular focus on these areas:

    • DNA methylation and demethylation
    • Non-coding RNA
    • Epigenetics across the life course and how epigenetic mechanisms/profiles can be modified by factors such as developmental (e.g. maternal influences), nutrition, physical activity and stress
    • we particularly welcome applications from researchers that have experience of working across model organisms, animals, humans and plants.
  • Evolutionary biology

    We are looking for applications from individuals with expertise in evolutionary biology, with particular focus on these areas:

    • Molecular and genetic evolutionary biology including computational science
    • Evolutionary developmental biology
    • Evolutionary drivers e.g. of alternative splicing.
  • Farmed animal nutrition

    We are looking for applications from individuals with expertise in farmed animal nutrition. We would particularly welcome those who have additional broader expertise in areas such as the gut microbiome, links with food safety and antimicrobial resistance, farmed animal management, production, health and welfare.

  • Industrial biotechnology

    We are looking for applications from individuals with expertise in the following areas to complement the existing committee expertise:

    • Enzymology, particularly that underpinning reactions of potential economic importance in the manufacture of fine chemicals and transforming other catalytic processes
    • Metabolism in bacteria, fungi, algae, particularly pathways in secondary metabolism leading to products with novel applications
    • Synthesis of natural products (including proteins) and their movement between different cellular compartments, including secretion
    • Biotechnological uses of fundamental biological processes with a sense of scale, working from laboratory scale to manufacturing in the bioeconomy.

    We welcome applications from those with experience outside the biological sciences, particularly in chemistry and process engineering.

  • Plant science

    We are looking for applications from individuals with interdisciplinary expertise within a fundamental plant sciences research context, in the areas of:

    • Photobiology, to include photosynthesis, photomorphogenesis and photosystems
    • Plant developmental biology, especially hormones, peptides and cell/long distance communication
    • Computational plant biology, modelling & bioinformatics, including multiscale modelling, the study of biochemical, cellular or physiological processes at systems-level in plants and the use of integrative approaches that harness multiple data types.
  • Proteomics

    We are looking for applications from individuals with expertise in proteomics, protein structure and function, particularly with a focus on applications in the biological sciences. In particular we are looking for expertise in:

    • Protein-protein interactions
    • Protein-lipid interactions
    • Protein expression and post-translational modifications
    • Protein signalling pathways
    • Protein structure-function
    • Proteomics techniques (Mass spectrometry-based techniques, differential in-gel electrophoresis).