15 May 2020   |   Network Updates   |   Update from Innovate UK
These updates are republished press releases and communications from members of the Science|Business Network

Professor Ottoline Leyser to join UK Research and Innovation as new Chief Executive


Business Secretary Alok Sharma has announced that Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser DBE FRS will join UK Research and Innovation as its new Chief Executive. She will succeed Sir Mark Walport who announced in September last year that he would retire in 2020. Professor Leyser will start her new role on Monday June 29.

Ottoline Leyser is Professor of Plant Development and Director of the Sainsbury Laboratory at the University of Cambridge (please see below for full biography). She is currently a council member for the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said:

“Professor Leyser’s appointment comes at a critical time for the UK. The coronavirus pandemic has shown the importance of science for our future and UKRI has a vital role to play in this.

“As the new Chief Executive, Professor Leyser will drive forward UKRI’s mission to create the great British companies of the future and help keep the UK at the cutting edge of global research and development.

“I would like to thank Sir Mark Walport for his dedication to UKRI, leading its transformation programme and championing science, engineering and technology across the UK.”

UKRI Chairman Sir John Kingman said:

“I’m delighted to welcome Ottoline Leyser, one of Britain’s most brilliant scientists, as UKRI’s next Chief Executive. I’d also like to thank Mark Walport for his extraordinary leadership, creating and building UKRI in its formative years.”

Professor Ottoline Leyser said:

“UKRI has a unique opportunity to make a profound contribution to tackling the many challenges facing the world.

“During my career, I have seen the power of genuinely collaborative cultures to catalyse the transformative thinking needed to create effective solutions.

“I look forward to working with the UKRI team to ensure that the UK’s superb research and innovation system continues to work for everyone, by pioneering new partnerships, developing innovative funding models and strengthening international collaboration.”

About Professor Ottoline Leyser DBE FRS

Ottoline received her BA (1986) and PhD (1990) in Genetics from the University of Cambridge. After post-doctoral research at Indiana University and Cambridge, she took up a lectureship at the University of York, where she worked from 1994-2010. Among her honours are the Society of Experimental Biology’s President’s Medal (2000), the Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award (2007), the International Plant Growth Substance Association’s Silver Medal (2010), the UK Genetics Society Medal (2016), the EMBO Women in Science Award (2017) and the British Society for Developmental Biology’s Waddington Medal (2020).

She was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2017 New Year Honours list for services to plant science, science in society and equality and diversity in science. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society, an International Member of the US National Academy of Sciences and a Member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation and the Leopoldina. She is a Fellow of Clare College. She currently chairs the Royal Society’s Science Policy Expert Advisory Committee and serves on the Council for Science and Technology.

This article was first published on 14 March by UKRI.

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