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Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council


Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
BBSRC logo
Abbreviation BBSRC
Formation 1994 (from merger of 2 other organisations)
Type Non-Departmental Public Body
Purpose Funding of UK biological and biotechnological science research
Headquarters Polaris House,
North Star Avenue,
Region served United Kingdom
Chief Executive Jackie Hunter
Main organ BBSRC Council
Parent organization
Budget c. £445M

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is a UK Research Council and NDPB and is the largest UK public funder of non-medical bioscience. It predominantly funds scientific research institutes and university research departments in the UK.


Receiving its funding through the science budget of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), BBSRC's mission is to "promote and support, by any means, high-quality basic, strategic and applied research and related postgraduate training relating to the understanding and exploitation of biological systems".[1]


BBSRC's head office is at Polaris House [2] in Swindon - the same building as the other Research Councils, AHRC EPSRC, ESRC, MRC, NERC, and STFC, as well as RCUK and the UKSA. Funded by Government, BBSRC invested over £484M in world-class bioscience in 2013-14. BBSRC also manages the joint Research Councils' Office in Brussels - the UK Research Office (UKRO).


BBSRC was created in 1994, merging the former Agricultural and Food Research Council (AFRC) and taking over the biological science activities of the former Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC).[3]


  • Sir Alistair Grant (1994-1998)
  • Dr Peter Doyle CBE (1998-2003)
  • Dr Peter Ringrose (2003-2009)
  • Prof Sir Tom Blundell FRS (2009–present)

Chief Executives

Governance and management

BBSRC is managed by the BBSRC Council consisting of a chairman (from 1 July 2009, Professor Sir Tom Blundell), a chief executive (Professor Jackie Hunter) and from ten to eighteen representatives from UK universities, government and industry. The Council approves policies, strategy, budgets and major funding. On 4 June 2013, the Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, announced the appointment of Dr Jackie Hunter CBE as Chief Executive.[4] Dr Hunter was previously CEO of OI Pharma Partners.

A Research Panel provides expert advice which BBSRC Council draws upon in making decisions. The purpose of the Research Panel is to advise on:

  • the development and implementation of the Council's strategic plans
  • the competitiveness, relevance, economic impact, and societal considerations of the science and innovation activities funded by BBSRC
  • opportunities for partnership with national and international organisations

Boards, panels and committees

In addition to the Council and the Research Panel, BBSRC has a series of other internal bodies for specific purposes.

  • Appointments Board
  • Audit Board
  • Remuneration Board
  • Strategy Panels - eight Panels advise and report to the BBSRC Chief Executive
  • Research Committees - five Committees award research grants in specific science areas

Institutes of BBSRC

The Council strategically funds eight research institutes in the UK, and a number of centres (BBSRC: Institutes and centres).

The Institutes are tasked with delivering innovative, world class bioscience research and training, leading to wealth and job creation, generating high returns for the UK economy. They have strong links with business, industry and the wider community, and support policy development.

The institutes' research underpins key sectors of the UK economy such as agriculture, bioenergy, biotechnology, food and drink and pharmaceuticals. In addition, the institutes maintain unique research facilities of national importance.

Other research institutes have merged with each other or with local universities. Previous BBSRC (or AFRC) sponsored institutes include:

External links

  • Babraham Institute
  • BBSRC website
  • Institute of Food Research
  • Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research
  • John Innes Centre
  • The Pirbright Institute
  • Research Councils UK
  • Roslin
  • Rothamsted Research
  • The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC)
  • UK Research Office (UKRO)

Video clips

  • BBSRC YouTube channel


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