THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH
COLLEGE OF MEDICINE AND VETERINARY MEDICINE
Minutes of the meeting held on Wednesday 21 September 2005 at 2 pm in
the Mary Kinross Room, 2nd floor, The Queen's Medical Research Institute, Little France
Present: Professor J R Seckl (Convener)
Professor J Savill, Head of College
Professor P Brophy
Professor A Harmar
Professor D Harrison
Professor C Haslett
Professor S Hillier
Professor E Johnstone
Professor J Mullins
Professor A Nash
Professor D E Newby
Professor S Ralston
Professor M Shipston
Professor E Watson
Dr J Bradshaw
Dr H Cubie
Ms L MacDonald
In attendance: Professor I Goryanin
Mr P McGuire (Secretary)
Apologies: Professor G Fowkes
Professor P Ghazal
Professor A Illius
Professor R G Morris
Professor D Porteous
Professor P Sandercock
A. FORMAL BUSINESS
Members were welcomed to the Queen's Medical Research Institute. It was hoped that
there will be many interactions between those visiting and their research groups and
research staff and groups now based here.
Thanks to Professor Haslett
Thanks were expressed to Professor Haslett for his roles as Convener of the
Committee since its inception within the then Faculty Group, as Director of Research
and RAE Co-ordinator. These roles have borne considerable responsibility and the RAE
and planning for the re-location to Little France in particular have entailed an enormous
amount of work. The College is most grateful to him.
Convener of the Committee
Professor Seckl was welcomed as new Director of Research for the College, RAE Co-
ordinator and Convener of the Committee.
Welcome to new School representatives on the Committee
The Committee welcomed new members Professor Tony Harmar, Head of the School
of Biomedical Sciences, Professor Dave Newby, Director of Clinical Research Facility
and representative of the School of Clinical Sciences and Community Health and
Professor Stuart Ralston, Head of the School of Molecular and Clinical Medicine.
Minutes of College Research Committee, 21 September 2005 (1)
Membership of the Committee
The revised membership was noted. The membership comprises some ex-officio
members, Directors of Research Centres, and some co-opted members. It is intended
that the Committee will address al matters associated with research at a strategic level.
Also, the Committee will play a vital role in the lead up to RAE 2008.
Professor Chris Haslett and Professor Chris Gregory would alternate as Centre for
Inflammation Research representative on the Committee.
Post of Entrepreneur in Residence
This was almost ready to be advertised, subject to complying with EU and Freedom of
Information requirements. The background to this post is the College’s under-
performance in terms of spinouts, licences and other areas of commercialisation of its
research. The SHEFC Knowledge Transfer Grant-funded post will be used to examine
the IP we have and its commercialisation potential, to explore opportunities nationally
and globally for company formation and company collaboration. Income generation will
be a key objective. It is a bold initiative, but working within traditional university
structures can hinder innovative approaches, while it is belived that a more hard-
headed, market knowledgeable perspective will reap benefits for the College.
There may also be potential synergies with NHS technology transfer initiatives.
Minutes of the previous meeting, 19 January 2005
There were none.
B. ITEMS FOR DISCUSSION
i) Edinburgh Centre for Bioinformatics
Professor Igor Goryanin, Chair in Computational Systems Biology and Director,
Edinburgh Centre for Bioinformatics was invited to speak to the Committee on the
status of the Centre and its future vision. The main purpose of his talk was to begin a
Biomathematics and Biomedical research dialogue and to explain something about
computational systems biology. His talk touched on various complex signalling models
his Centre utilises, and key aspects of these, including:
Quantitative Kinetic Models
Systems Biology Graphical Notation (SBGN) graphical notation for representing
the modelling process in biology/medicine
the Edinburgh Pathway Editor (EPE)
as an example, an analysis for breast cancer
the EGFR (Epidermal growth factor receptor) signalling network.
In addition he explained the structure of the Edinburgh Centre for Bioinformatics, what
Systems Biology does within the School of Informatics and the Centre’s proposed
These powerful technologies provided many potential opportunities for centres and
groups, including biomarkers, where a major EU and MRC funding initiative is
expected soon, also brain imaging and the pooling of data, cardiovascular and
Professor Goryanin was thanked for coming to speak to the Committee, and it was
hoped that collaborations would develop in the future. Copies of Professor Goryanin’s
slides have been circulated with the minutes.
ii) Edinburgh Neuroscience (EdinNeuro)
The paper had been deferred from February 2005. Professor Seckl chaired and
contributed to the review. For some time there has existed a perception that
Minutes of College Research Committee, 21 September 2005 (2)
Neuroscience at Edinburgh collectively has not been as effective as it could be, while
within Neuroscience there is an overwhelming wish for an umbrella organisation,
without interfering with the two established and successful centres we have. The report
was accepted by the Principal’s Strategy Group, and the Principal subsequently invited
Professor Morris and Professor Warlow to chair Edinburgh Neuroscience.
Professor Seckl was congratulated on his review, which is already bearing results. The
hope was expressed that in due course there would be developed a roadmap to a
single, cohesive, cross-disciplinary clinical and basic Neuroscience institute at Little
France. However, it is recognised that for some hospital-based units in particular, this
may not be possible, so a 2015 vision statement might be more appropriate. REH and
WGH patients travelling to Little France may not necessarily be problematic as they
travel from all over Scotland anyway.
Although Neuroscience now needs a period of stability and clarity, crucial first
challenges for EdinNeuro will be to begin to articulate the overall vision, to help shape
an external profile and to identify the interfaces between disciplines. Royal Society
funding is being sought to raise public awareness, and the College has made a one-off
commitment of £50k to develop a website and otherwise help raise the profile of this
new entity. Some tangible targets should also be set, for example combined studies,
and how various units are to relate.
In conclusion it was commented that differences between Neuroscience disciplines may
have been overstated in the past, that CIR and CRB have provided examples of
interactions which previously had not been foreseen, that the content of the 2015 vision
paper is vital and that EdinNeuro developments should be kept under the scrutiny of
iii) RAE 2008:
Update on University preparations for RAE 2008
Noted. The publication period is 1 January 2001 – 31 December 2007. It was agreed
that as there are now three new Heads of School, it would be useful to repeat the
exercise held in Spring last year, whereby academic staff were asked to submit their top
six publications for review. Academic colleagues will be asked to identify which are their
papers, in view of RAE panel concerns about duplication. It is hoped the exercise will
help staff to focus on the RAE and identify what Directors need to do, while there is still
time to manoeuvre. Centre Directors will also be asked to draft a mock RA5 (Research
environment and esteem RA5a, Individual staff circumstances RA5b, Category C staff
circumstances RA5c http://www.rae.ac.uk/pubs/2005/03/rae0305.doc.) Further, the
exercise will help to identify what planned investments are required. The Principal is
keen to establish a strategic appointments fund.
RAE 2008 Panels will closely scrutinise returns for duplication. There are many fine
choices to be made regarding the final RAE submission, and many will be made as the
submission deadline approaches, by the Director of Research. There may be some
returning of staff in other Colleges.
Regarding centre/unit publication databases, there exists no template or standard
software for these. However, some academic units use EndNote software, which allows
one to search and download references from electronic databases and on-line library catalogues,
iv) Summary notes on RAE strategy meeting, The Burn, April 2005
Noted. It was agreed that there should be a return visit to The Burn in early summer
2006, to further discuss the College’s RAE 2008 strategy.
v) ERI report on research awards
Minutes of College Research Committee, 21 September 2005 (3)
vi) Centre awards 2005/06
In the run up to RAE 2008, there is a vital need for the strategic use of funds. It was
recommended that Centres be awarded £5,000 each for the current academic year,
with the remainder of the Director’s fund to be used for strategic purposes, at his
It may be possible to make a contribution from the Psychiatry endowment to CNR, to
allow key persons to visit. Also, Scottish Enterprise in Edinburgh & Lothian (SEEL) is
keen to provide matching funds for initiatives of this type, particularly where commercial
benefits can be emphasised. Laura MacDonald can advise here.
vii) Reports on recent major funding bids
A key bid is for a combined Department of Health, Wellcome, Wolfson, MRC award.
£74 m. is being offered for patient centred research to develop new therapies. This
initiative is offering two funding streams: for experimental medicine and research
Wellcome and Wolfson are awarding £30 m, possibly more, for research infrastructure,
mainly to develop existing clinical research facilities. Their goal is to speed up the
translation of scientific advances into benefits for patients. As the College has a CRF, a
bid was submitted for £4 m. for a 3T research magnet and support and CT PET
support. Full bids are due at the end of 2005.
Scottish Enterprise has been discussing building a Centre for Biomedical Research
behind the QMRI and a detailed feasibility report has been forwarded to SEEL. SE
looks likely to fund £45 m. The specification for the building, is for a translational
research facility of the highest quality, for a world-leading facility.
The BBSRC Integrative Mammalian Biology awards offer £11 m. for capacity building.
Applications could span all three Colleges so an internal selectivity will be essential. It is
intended that the College will submit a bid for a range of posts from 4 year PhDs to
C. MEETING DATES 2005/06
Date Time Venue
Weds 25 January 2006 3 p.m. E3.02, 2 floor, QMRI
Weds 15 March 2006 2 p.m. E3.02, 2 floor, QMRI
Weds 3 May 2006 2 p.m. E3.02, 2 floor, QMRI
Weds 28 June 2006 2 p.m. E3.02, 2 floor, QMRI
D. ANY OTHER BUSINESS
There was a meeting at Little France earlier today to discuss the problem of hepatitis
virus in some mice colonies. There it was emphasised that the College seeks to
maintain high quality standards in all its animal facilities.
Minutes of College Research Committee, 21 September 2005 (4)