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BBSRC Chief Executive discusses frontier bioscience at Houses of Parliament

Copyright: Royal Society of Biology

“Frontier Bioscience is about pushing the boundaries of knowledge to make amazing, surprising and potentially life changing discoveries,” said Professor Melanie Welham, Chief Executive, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

Professor Welham delivered a bioscience-themed speech at the fifth annual Biology Week parliamentary reception on Wednesday, 12 October at the Houses of Parliament. The speech highlighted several research areas already revolutionising the bioscience horizon;

  • Dolly, the world’s most famous sheep; the first mammal to be cloned twenty years ago from an adult cell. Dolly’s birth proved specialised cells could be used to create an exact copy of the animal they came from
  • Identifying how flowering is controlled in plants; the discovery might lead towards the advancement of a variety of crops adapted to produce the food needed in a changing climate
  • Ultrafast ways to sequence DNA; the ability to quickly and cheaply sequence DNA is opening up a range of future possibilities around personalised healthcare, where nutritional regimes and medical treatments may be tailored to an individual’s genetic makeup

Prof Welham, whose background is in stem cell biology, understands first-hand how exciting and profound those, ‘I never would have thought’ feelings of excitement can be when discoveries are made.

The annual celebration brings together key stakeholders in the research realm, including Ministers, MPs and members, as well as other supporting organisations and volunteers who recognise the importance and value of biosciences in the UK.

The speech concluded with an emphasis on BBSRC’s continued focus on core of business – to support the research bioscience community, push the boundaries of scientific endeavour, discover things that at this moment may seem unimaginable, and use this new knowledge to tackle the major issues we face in the 21st century.

BBSRC is the major partner for Biology Week, providing funding for biology week events and projects since the inception of the week in 2012. Joint projects with the Royal Society of Biology in previous years have included school resources and events on food security, parliamentary reception events and a technician careers project.



BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Funded by government, BBSRC invested £473 million in world-class bioscience, people and research infrastructure in 2015-16. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

More information about BBSRC, our science and our impact.
More information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes.


UK Research and Innovation Media Office

Tags: bioscience DNA research biology public engagement BBSRC press release