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Frontier Bioscience: Understanding the rules of life

Copyright: ZEISS Microscopy on Flickr by CC 2.0

Frontier Bioscience: the power of discovery


Frontier bioscience is pioneering, innovative and creative research that can lead to far-reaching discoveries. The support for this area is central to BBSRC's mission to advance knowledge and technology. Our frontier bioscience theme gives high priority to world-class discovery research, recognising it as essential to ensuring the UK remains a global leader and that we deliver 'bioscience for the future'.


BBSRC is the strategic leader and custodian of UK bioscience research. BBSRC’s delivery plan 2016-20 (see downloads) recognises our role in supporting bioscience that advances the fundamental understanding of biological systems as well as addressing societal challenges. We understand the value of both approaches and the importance of maintaining a balanced investment portfolio, recognising that research at the frontiers of basic bioscience can have huge impact for both science and society in the long term.

The theme of frontier bioscience seeks to emphasise the role of BBSRC in building and strengthening this work to underpin the nation’s future needs and ensure the health of the discipline for future generations.

We recognise that in order to ensure the UK continues to be a world leader and partner of choice, we need to create an environment where frontier bioscience can thrive – where researchers are encouraged to ask fundamental biological questions that haven’t been solved and to work creatively towards solutions.

By inspiring the brightest minds, supporting teams, enabling far-reaching collaborations and funding curiosity driven science, bioscience can generate knowledge that in turn can lead to game-changing solutions and technologies. Genomics, epigenetics, gene editing, cell biology and quantum biology are all such examples, noting their impact in areas of research relevant to BBSRC’s strategic priority areas.

Central to BBSRC’s mission is the delivery of a continuous flow of new knowledge, creating the epicentre of a vibrant bioscience environment, enabling:

  • New discoveries and innovation
  • Talented and productive workforce
  • Inward investment and the UK being global partner of choice
  • Transformative new business opportunities
  • A vibrant and growing bioeconomy
  • A more resilient and secure future for us all, in the UK and beyond


Our flagship responsive mode programme, as well as our investments in studentships and fellowships will remain key mechanisms used to promote creative, curiosity-driven frontier bioscience research, providing vital agility to support the very best research ideas and talent across the UK.

Other BBSRC schemes and special opportunities of relevance include:

Looking ahead

BBSRC has a unique role and responsibility within the UK bioscience research community and takes a consultative approach to strategy development for frontier bioscience. We recognise the importance of sustaining an investment portfolio that encompasses creative 'blue skies' investigations as well as more strategic and applied programmes.

By fostering frontier bioscience BBSRC will:

  • Support inspired research ideas at the frontiers of bioscience
  • Enable talented scientists to explore novel concepts that have the potential to transform our understanding of life
  • Encourage and promote multidisciplinary partnerships between researchers, recognising that ground-breaking discoveries often come through collaboration
  • Drive scientific discovery through an emphasis on scientific excellence and transformative potential in peer-review funding decisions
  • Promote a culture that recognises the long-term value of creative frontier approaches
  • Uphold the UK’s world-leading reputation and champion investment in frontier research

Header image copyright: ZEISS Microscopy on Flickr by CC 2.0