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BBSRC's Executive Chair shares bioscience advances at Royal Society of Biology's seventh parliamentary reception

From L to R: Professor Julia Goodfellow, Stephen Metcalfe MP, Professor Melanie Welham, Dr Stephen Benn

In partnership with BBSRC, The Royal Society of Biology hosted an evening reception at the House of Commons to celebrate the biosciences in parliament.

Speakers included Stephen Metcalfe MP, Professor Julia Goodfellow and Professor Melanie Welham, BBSRC Executive Chair.

“We are here as a community to support world-leading science in the UK,” said Professor Melanie Welham. “BBSRC will continue to champion bioscience in partnership with RSB, enabling the community to push back frontiers and turn research into real-life impact.”

Professor Welham shared key bioscience stories during the last 12 months, which included:

  • A new form of photosynthesis discovered by an international team led by Imperial College London. The process uses near-infrared light, which was previously thought to have too little energy to be useful. Cyanobacteria were found to use a different kind of chlorophyll to photosynthesise near-infrared light when visible light levels are low
  • The plastic-eating enzyme engineered by scientists at University of Portsmouth and in the USA. Adapted from a naturally-occurring enzyme discovered in bacteria at a waste recycling centre in Japan, the enzyme could help to break down the vast amount of PET plastic packaging generated every year
  • ‘The Hidden Half’, an online resource that shares images of plant root systems from The Hounsfield Facility at University of Nottingham. The facility uses CT scanners to understand plant roots and their structure and growth in-situ, which could help to produce plants that take up water and nutrients more efficiently and contribute to soil health
Professor Melanie Welham addresses the audience. Copyright: BBSRC

Professor Welham also highlighted recent investments and activities by BBSRC in its first year under UK Research and Innovation, and drew the audience’s attention to the recent publication of the Forward Look for UK Bioscience. The publication sets the direction of travel for UK bioscience, and promotes the upcoming the tenth Innovator of the Year competition.

Professor Welham finished her speech by reflecting on the opportunities that have arisen in the first seven months of UK Research and Innovation.

BBSRC is a major partner for Biology Week, providing funding for special events and projects since the inception of the week in 2012. The annual week of special events and activities is organised by the Royal Society of Biology to celebrate the wonder of life and amazing bioscience discoveries.

To find out more about events and activities happening near you for Biology Week in 2018, visit Royal Society of Biology: What's on in Biology Week 2018.



The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.

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 £469 million in world-class bioscience in 2016-17. 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 UK Research and Innovation.
More information about BBSRC, our science and our impact.
More information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes.


UK Research and Innovation Media Office

Tags: fundamental bioscience BBSRC press release Royal Society of Biology stakeholders impact people biology week