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Call for expressions of interest to join our Pool of Experts, Research Committee E and Follow-on Fund Committee

Call status: Closed
Previous call: 4 May 2018 - 12 June 2018


BBSRC, as part of UK Research and Innovation, plays a crucial role in the health and vibrancy of UK bioscience. Our aim is to sustain the excellence of, and maximise impact from, the UK bioscience community by furthering scientific knowledge, promoting economic growth, wealth and job creation, and improving the quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Every year we invest more than £450 million on behalf of the UK public in research, innovation, training and capabilities. We support around 1,600 scientists and 2,000 research students in universities and institutes across. the UK.

Through our research and the people we fund we enable the advancement of bioscience and biotechnology knowledge discovery. We support three challenge-led strategic priorities, in agriculture and food security, industrial biotechnology and bioenergy, and bioscience for health and three enabling themes in enabling innovation, exploiting new ways of working, and partnerships. Our research investments support frontier bioscience to creatively address challenges and advance our understanding, often in unexpected ways. Across our research portfolio interdisciplinarity and multidisciplinary partnership is growing in depth and breadth.

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 high-quality research, innovation and training in the biosciences.

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

We are seeking expressions of interest from people 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 our Appointments Board on the basis of individual knowledge and experience, and the need for expertise in particular research areas. As part of this programme we also aspire to better reflect the diversity and experience of the bioscience community.

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 impacts of research
  • Your experience, knowledge or understanding of how funding decisions are made.

The types of evidence required will depend on the background of the applicant. Once applicants have met the quality criteria below, we will also consider the overall goal of increasing the diversity of the Pool of Experts:


  • 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
  • Evidence of research outputs and contributions to your area for research, for example, publications, patents, software development, etc.
  • Evidence of presence in your community, for example invited presentations, talks at leading conferences in the field, experience of peer review boards or panels
  • Evidence of invitation to write books, book chapters, journal reviews of research areas. On editorial boards for journals, organsing conferences, organising/ chairing an interational conference (and/or sessions) etc.

Non-academic including business, industry, and Technology Transfer Office (TTO) professionals

  • Evidence of experience in research, development and technical knowledge deployed in a business/commercial environment
  • Evidence to demonstrate an understanding of the academic innovation and business landscape
  • Evidence of research outputs and contributions to your area for research, for example, publications, patents, software development, etc.
  • Evidence of presence in your community, for example invited presentations, talks at leading conferences in the field, experience of peer review boards or panels.

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 of your employer 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 desriptions. Recommendations will be made to our Appointments Board, which is responsible for making appointments.

The Appointments Board will consider people diversity and institutional balance as part of its decision making process. BBSRC seeks to balance institutional representation on our Boards, Strategy Advisory Panels and Research 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 Research 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 Research Committees, Strategy Advisory Panels and Boards are inclusive, diverse, and representative of the research community.

Through this appointment activity, we have aspirations to improve the diversity of the Research Committees and Pool of Experts. In particular, we aspire to improve the gender balance of the Pool of Experts in keeping with our overall goal of achieving a membership of at least 35% women. We are also keen to encourage applications from experts based overseas.

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, industry and technology transfer office professionals are also particularly encouraged.

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. We are signatory to the UK Concordat to Support Integrity (PDF) and we implement the UK Research and Innovation policy and guidelines for good research conduct (PDF), alongside our guidance on safeguarding good scientific practice. Appointees to BBSRC Research Committees, Strategy Advisory Panels and Pool of Experts are expected to be aware of their obligations in regard to these policies and guidance.

Applicants are requested to declare any past or current 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

Application deadline: 12 June 2018, 16:00.

Applicants should:

Applicants can apply for one position (Research Committee E, 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 five research areas in you sufficient expertise to be able to offer 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 opens Early May 2018
Application deadline 12 June 2018, 16:00
BBSRC Office review of applications Mid-June - October 2018
Appointments Board meeting Mid-October 2018
Outcomes communicated End October 2018

Research Committee E

Research Committee E is responsible for the award of fellowships and other personal awards and providing mentoring support to our Fellows (see related links). Members are expected to be well respected within their field and to have demonstrable interest in supporting career development.

We are looking to appoint six new members. Appointments to Research Committee E will be for up to three years.

What does the role involve?

Research Committee E:

  • undertakes the assessment of fellowships and other personal awards, and applications for other people movement schemes and provides recommendations for funding to BBSRC Executive
  • provides mentoring, support and regular feedback to Fellows through face-to-face visits and meetings, through the annual progress update system and attendance at Fellows' induction seminars and the biennial BBSRC Fellows Conference
  • provides input to BBSRC and its Strategy Advisory Panels and sub-groups on the recommendations it makes on the award of fellowships and other personal awards.

Research Committee E members are required to:

  • Attend meetings in May and October (usually one and two days duration respectively) to assess current fellows’ progress (May) and sift new fellowship proposals (October)
  • Participate in fellowship interview panels in November and December (both two day panels)
  • Mentor BBSRC’s fellows, members usually mentor between 1-3 fellows at any one time
  • Attend the induction seminar for new fellows (two day event) if the member has been selected to act as a mentor to a new fellow being inducted
  • Attend the biennial fellows’ conference (two day event)
  • Support the work of the Research Committee through correspondence on an adhoc basis.

Role profile

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

  • Experience of mentoring and nurturing early career scientists to support the development of scientific careers
  • Experience of panel interviewing.

Expertise requirements

We welcome candidates with scientific expertise from all areas of our remit. In particular we would like to encourage applicants with expertise in the following areas:

  • Neuroscience
  • Plant science
  • Biology of ecology
  • Molecular biology
  • Animal science
  • Indiviudals from business or industry sectors relevant to BBSRC
  • Technology Transfer Office (or equivalent) experience.

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 undertaken 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 five new members 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 be asked to contribute to the assessment of other translational calls developed by the office in response to new funding opportunities. The office aims to ensure that any ad-hoc 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 support and enabling innovation.

Expertise requirements

We are seeking applicants with expertise in the following areas:

  • Drug delivery and vaccines
  • Synthetic biology
  • Platform and technology development
  • Industrial biotechnology and bioenergy
  • Cell and molecular biology
  • 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 our Research Committees and Strategy Advisory 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 reviewing, attending expert working groups and advisory panel meetings.

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

In 2018, 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
  • 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.

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 Research Committee.

Travel and subsistence will be paid, along with an honorarium of £170 per meeting. Panel members will be expected to act as reviewers for the grant application if they are not attending Panel meeting.

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 up to 10 members to each of the following areas:

  • Animal Welfare

    We are looking for applications from those with expertise in any area relevant to the responsive mode priority “Welfare of managed animals”. In particular, we encourage applications from individuals with expertise in one or more of the following areas:

    • Welfare of laboratory animals
    • Welfare of companion animals
    • Behavioural measures of stress and stress management
    • Industrial experience

    Applicants should have an awareness of the main animal welfare issues that exist for managed animals (farm, laboratory, companion and/or zoo), and not solely experience of working with animals in research, R&D and commercial settings.

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning and deep learning

    We are looking for applications from individuals with expertise in artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning, particularly with a focus on applications in the biological sciences.

    We recognise the highly multidisciplinary nature of this area, and we welcome applications from researchers in data science and other relevant disciplines.

  • Biology-physics interface

    We are looking for applications from individuals with interdisciplinary expertise at the interface between bioscience and physics, employing experimental and theoretical approaches. In particular, we would encourage applications from researchers with a background in the physical sciences who currently work in a bioscience context or on biological challenges. Relevant areas include but are not limited to:

    • Mechanobiology and the influence of forces on biological systems and processes
    • The physics underpinning biological energy transduction
    • Emergent behaviour in biological systems
    • Development of biophysical tools and methods.
  • Immunology

    We are looking for applications from individuals with immunology expertise, including, but not limited to:

    • Immunoengineering
    • Innate/Adaptive immunity
    • Lymphocyte biology
    • Molecular immunology
    • Mucosal immunity
    • Systems immunology
    • Co-infection immunology.
  • Microbiome research

    We are looking for applications from individuals with interdisciplinary expertise in microbiome research spanning the analysis of microbiome data as well as microbial and/or host biology. Microbiome research expertise should be in areas relevant to our remit, for example:

    • Plant and soil microbiomes
    • Animal-associated microbiomes
    • Microbiomes in the context of healthy human physiology
    • Tools and technologies relevant to microbiome research.
  • Plant systems biology

    We are looking for applications from individuals with interdisciplinary expertise in the application of mathematical and computational modelling approaches within a plant sciences research context, for example:

    • Understanding biochemical, cellular or physiological processes at systems-level in plants
    • Agri-ecosystems modelling
    • Use of integrative approaches that harness multiple data types
    • Multi-scale modelling.
  • Virology

    We are looking for applications from individuals with expertise in virology and computational biology. In particular, those with expertise in:

    • Cellular virology
    • Molecular virology
    • Structural virology
    • Host-pathogen virology
    • Virology tools and technology.