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									                             THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH


                                   RESEARCH COMMITTEE

                                     1st meeting 2004/05

                  Meeting to be held on Wednesday 19 January 2005 at 2 pm
             in the McEwan Hall Reception Room, Medical Buildings, Teviot Place



     i)    Apologies

     ii)   Announcements
           Professor John Mullins, Director of the Centre for Cardiovascular

     iii) Minutes of the meeting held on 22 September 2004                     A

     iv) Matters arising


     i)    RAE 2008                                                            B

     ii)   Full Economic Costing                                               C

     iii) ERI report on research output                                        D

     To be confirmed


Paul McGuire
College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine Office
Medical Buildings, Teviot Place
Tel. 650 6990 Email
                            THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH


                                 RESEARCH COMMITTEE

           Minutes of the meeting held on Wednesday 22 September 2004 at 2 pm in
              the McEwan Hall Reception Room, Medical Buildings, Teviot Place

Present:                Professor C Haslett (Convener)
                        Professor P Brophy
                        Professor P Ghazal
                        Professor C Gregory
                        Professor J Mullins
                        Professor D Porteous
                        Professor J Savill, Head of College
                        Professor J Seckl
                        Professor M Shipston
                        Professor J Smyth
                        Professor J Wardlaw
                        Professor E Watson
                        Dr J Bradshaw
                        Ms L MacDonald

In attendance:          Professor M Fourman (for item 4)
                        Professor R Logie (for item 4)
                        Professor R G Morris (for item 4)
                        Mr P McGuire (Secretary)

Apologies:              Professor G Fowkes
                        Professor S Hillier
                        Professor A Illius
                        Professor P Sandercock
                        Professor N Turner
                        Professor M E J Woolhouse
                        Dr H Cubie
                        Dr R Smailes

1.   Announcements
     Professor John Mullins, who recently replaced Professor David Webb as Director of the
     Centre for Cardiovascular Science, was welcomed as a new member of the Committee.

     There will be a presentation on Full Economic Costing of research (fEC) on Tuesday 28
     September at 3 pm in the Meadows Lecture Theatre.

2.   Minutes of the meeting held on 2 June 2004

3.   Matters arising
     ERI was currently seeking to bring together a panel of commercialisation consultants,
     and once it had done this it would seek College representation on this.

     It was suggested that Dr Roberto Solari, Chief Executive of MRC Technology (MRCT),
     the body charged with the commercialisation of MRC IP, should be invited to Edinburgh
     to speak to Committee members and others.

     Various bids have been received for SHEFC Knowledge Transfer Grant awards. The
     Principal plans to give £25k to IP development, but unfortunately Professor Seckl’s

      proposal for an entrepreneur-in-residence at Little France was not supported. Most
      awards will be small and short term.

4.    Proposal for a Tri-College Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience
      Professors Morris, Fourman and Logie were welcomed to the meeting. They gave a
      presentation of the proposal to the Committee, and this was followed by questions from
      Committee members. [A copy of the presentation is enclosed with the minutes.]

     The proposal has two linked objectives:
          to capitalise on a recent grant funding ‘highlight call’ in Cognitive Sciences from
           the BBSRC, EPSRC, ESRC, MRC and Wellcome Trust, by the establishment of a
           Cognitive Science Program (CSP) at the University of Edinburgh
          to create a tri-College Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience (CCN) embracing
           aspects of Human Cognitive Science, Information Engineering, and Systems
Cognitive Neuroscience across the Colleges includes the following:
     •     CHSS has appointed two Professors of Cognitive Neuroscience and their new
           colleagues are doing work on human subjects; cognitive psychology theories are
           driving their work
     •     CMVM has a longstanding Laboratory for Cognitive Neuroscience (since 1987)
           with a focus on neurobiological studies of learning and memory using animals,
           and new ventures in drug addiction
          CSE is developing a new School of Informatics containing at least two Institutes
           with interests in neural networks and brain-style computing, machine-learning and
           ‘biomimetic’ robotics.

      Thereafter, following points were made in discussion:
          the proposal would benefit from the new Informatics focus in and around George
           Square and the University-endorsed Informatics forum
          projects already underway included understanding cognitive function and brain
           organisation, clinical tools to aid diagnosis and assessment following brain
           damage, specific dual path impairment as a signature for early Alzheimer’s
           disease, understanding memory consolidation and binding, drug addiction,
           dyslexia, etc.
          there would be access to the e.Science Centre’s large scale computational
          the initiative would provide excellent scope for the computational and algorithmic
           analysis of old problems
          the CSP would be a major opportunity for whole system Neuroscience, also for
           OST and other funding opportunities
          the College of Science and Engineering agreed to place Informatics in the central
           area largely because of the potential links to cognition, also a recent Wolfson
           Foundation award of £2m was predicated on Informatics colleagues working on
           the Life Sciences : Informatics interface
          would the proposed centre, with around 12 PIs as members, have sufficient
           critical mass, and would it have appropriate links with systems biology?
          the centre proposal had yet to be discussed with CNR colleagues who are
           moving to Little France
          in November 2001 there had been a special meeting to discuss Neuroscience,
           and there a number of recommendations had been made regarding the then
           future organisation of Neuroscience.

       The Committee AGREED:
      i)    that the proposal for a Cognitive Systems Program (CSP) is strongly and
            unanimously supported as an exciting development with enormous potential in
            terms of scientific advancement and the likely attraction of significant funding
      ii)   that whilst welcoming the proposal for a Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience
            (CCN), the Committee has reservations regarding the effect that three
            Neuroscience research centres and a division would have on the cohesiveness of
            Neuroscience at Edinburgh - both internally and as perceived externally. In 2001

            the Committee expressed a strong preference for Neuroscience at Edinburgh to
            have an over-arching structure with specialisms therein, but since then the
            concept has drifted and an impression of fragmentation remains. There are
            concerns about the RAE implications of having three Neuroscience centres, also
            a CCN might not as yet have sufficient critical mass, particularly if greater
            selectivity of membership were applied
     iii)   that it is the Committee’s belief that for the present, Cognitive Systems should be
            an Interdisciplinary Research Group (IDG), and that for the sake of the long term
            strategic direction of its research it should be hosted by this College
     iv)    that tri-College membership is welcomed as an important opportunity to attract
            new researchers to Neuroscience, and that there should be discussions with
            heads of relevant schools as to how such a potential tri-College centre might be
     v)     that the proposal has highlighted the need for further, high level discussion about
            the future organisational structure of Neuroscience at Edinburgh.

5.   Outline proposal for an IDG in Veterinary Clinical Research
     Veterinary Studies to a large extent functions from its hospitals, and one-third of staff
     spend 600-1,000 hours per annum in clinical teaching, which obviously has a significant
     impact on the RAE. The Veterinary Clinical Research IDG proposal is a strategy to
     address this reality, through:
          raising the profile of research within the School so that higher priority is given to
           research by those already heavily committed to clinical and pre-clinical teaching
          fostering productive research collaborations between members of staff, especially
           between clinical and non-clinical staff
          bringing together staff members into a research-nurturing environment in which
           experienced researchers can encourage and support those starting out (or re-
           starting) in research
          increasing the number of national and international standard research
           publications by encouraging potential authors to combine their research efforts
           into collaborative papers.

     In parallel with the development of the IDG proposal, the School of Veterinary Studies
     has examined all recent research output, and four distinct topic areas have been
           Allergy and Immunity
           Development and Ageing
           Evidence-Based Veterinary Medicine
           Pain and Welfare.

     In discussion the following comments were made:
      while the IDG proposal is warmly welcomed, its title may be too broad and might
            possibly cause confusion with the Division of Veterinary Clinical Studies
      an alternative might be to have four IDGs, in each of the above-listed topic areas
      selectivity should be applied, starting with areas of high quality
      it should be remembered that IDGs are intended to be genuinely interdisciplinary.

     It was AGREED that the Committee would welcome a revised proposal document
     which takes in the above points and notes the proposal documents of the IDGs
     approved to date.

6.   Proposal for a collaborative European clinical research program
     The proposal represents NHS Scotland’s first foray into technology transfer. It is
     unclear at this stage what funds are available. Dr David Newby has been asked to
     represent the College in discussions.

7.   Resourcing of Research Centres
     College Strategy Group recently agreed to annual awards to centres. The Committee
     discussed a number of options for the disbursement of awards. Thereafter it was

     i)     that £10k should be awarded to each Research Centre
     ii)    that a contingency fund of £30k should be made available for IDGs to apply for
            small sums for pressing needs
     iii)   that it is assumed that in due course overhead income and full economic costing
            will underpin research centre activities, and possibly those of the IDGs
     iv)    that as the awards have been made possible through a virement from the College
            SHEFC salaries budget, the funds should be used carefully, to facilitate
            interdisciplinary research activities; unspent funds will be clawed back at the end
            of the financial year.

8.   Reports received from ERI

     8.1 ITI Guidelines on Collaboration with Scottish Universities
     ERI was waiting on calls for niche opportunities. Recently ITI has produced two
     foresighting reports, Biomarkers (Bioinformatics, Proteomics and Systems Biology)
     and Stem Cells. ERI is seeking to tease out opportunities in what is uncharted territory,
     but it also welcomes suggestions from colleagues.

     [To obtain a username for the membership area of the ITI Life Sciences webpage, go to click on the new user button (very top,
     right hand corner of the screen), fill out the form and they will e-mail you a username
     and login details so that you can access the information available there. This normally
     takes around 24-48 hours. ]

     8.2 ITI Proposal Guidelines
     Unfortunately the IP model is not a good one for universities as ITI expects to control
     investigators’ IP.

     8.3 Report on ITI Life Sciences Members meeting, July 2004

     8.4 Pan Scottish Initiative
     This is a new, and at this stage largely amorphous initiative by the Scottish universities.
     It aims to create a fund based on activities already taking place within universities.
     Scottish Enterprise has appointed consultants to bring the constituent universities
     together, and there should be opportunities for development funding.

     8.5 Texas Initiative
     Funding comes from the DTI, under its collaborative initiative with the State of Texas.

9.   SHEFC SRDG Applications: update
     In August the Committee was asked to consider and rank three proposals. As all three
     scored equally, each was submitted to the Principal’s Strategy Group (PSG) for
     consideration. PSG subsequently agreed that the following two should be further
     developed and submitted to SHEFC:
          ‘Thinking Scotland - A co-operative neuroimaging initiative to meet the research
           and health priorities of Scotland’
          ‘Scottish Collaboration for Immunity in Farm Animals (SCIFA)’ (previously known
           as ‘Integration of the Scottish Veterinary Schools into a ‘Systems Biology’
           framework in the Scottish Network for Animal Biosciences (SNAB)’)
           It was commented that the SCIFA proposal would bring together the Scottish
           Agricultural College, Moredun, Roslin and Glasgow, in a functioning network to
           address the post-genome challenge. The bid would be led by Edinburgh and
           would aid capacity building through the recruitment of stars from other

     The following bids were not short-listed by PSG:
          ‘Scottish Consortium for Hospital Acquired Infections’
          the application for a SRDG Small Grant bid for Feasibility Study, ‘Towards a
           Translational Clinical Care Research Network’.

      In discussion it was suggested that conceptually the College should think of Easter
      Bush-Kings Buildings-Little France as a animal bioscience - infectious diseases - stem
      cells etc. research triangle.

10.   Full Economic Costing: background and issues to be addressed by the University

11.   ‘Roberts’ funding for research staff and postgraduate student generic skills training

12.   Joint Universities UK and cancer Research UK Protocol on Tobacco Industry funding to

13.   Committee membership, Centre Directors and IDG Conveners

14.   Date of next meeting
      Monday 22 November at 2 p.m, Chancellor's Building, Little France. Room to be

15.   Any other business
      There was none.


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