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About us

Executive Chair & Management Board

The day-to-day management of the MRC is overseen by our Management Board, a decision-making body and discussion forum chaired by the Executive Chair.

The terms of reference for the board are to manage operations where policy and decisions have major importance for the delivery of our objectives and/or for our key stakeholder relationships.

The main areas of responsibility are to:

  • Monitor our performance and delivery and to determine control strategies to mitigate risk
  • Take policy/operational decisions or make recommendations to the Council where authority rests with the latter
  • Exchange, generate and develop ideas and provide advice as appropriate

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Executive Chair

Professor Fiona Watt

Professor Fiona Watt

Fiona Watt obtained her DPhil from the University of Oxford, and carried out postdoctoral research at MIT, Cambridge, USA. She established her first lab at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology in London, and then moved to London Research Institute.

From 2006 to 2012 she was Deputy Director of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Institute and Deputy Director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Stem Cell Research, University of Cambridge.

As well as being the MRC's Executive Chair Fiona is Director of the Centre for Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine at King's College London where she leads a team of 80 academic researchers. Internationally recognised in her field, she has expertise in the stem cells of healthy and diseased skin..

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Chief Science Officer

Robin Buckle

Robin Buckle

  • To shape and develop MRC’s head office scientific operations, Boards, Committees etc  to maintain excellence and to respond to the changing needs and integration into UKRI
  • To personally provide leadership for major science implementation programmes in select areas, by agreement with the CEO
  • To ensure MRC’s external networks and internal communications provide up-to-date insight. Through effective contributions to strategy; evaluation; at Board level and across MRC 
  • Responsibility for MRC’s family of Units, Centres, and Institutes, ensuring that they make exceptional contributions to MRC’s research. Optimising communications, funding, review and governance arrangements, to ensure continuous evolution
  • Act as an ambassador for MRC, developing networks and inter-organisational relationships and providing a public voice for MRC on science funding, quality, etc, both nationally and internationally

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Chief Operating and Finance Officer

Hugh Dunlop

Hugh Dunlop

  • Responsible for managing financial risk.
  • Responsible for the delivery of operational corporate functions, including acting as Chair for the Operations Board.
  • Ensures that our research programmes are provided with adequate operational support.
  • Responsible for financial strategy and planning; for monitoring, controlling and accounting for expenditure and resources.
  • Provides information and advice to assist corporate decision-making.

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Director of Policy, Ethics and Governance

Frances Rawle

Frances Rawle

  • Leading the delivery of effective governance and accountability throughout the MRC, ensuring Government and UKRI requirements are met. This includes responsibility for effective running of the MRC Council, delegation of responsibility for decision making within the organisation, and relevant policies
  • MRC lead for research integrity, ethics, reproducibility, open science, and animals in research, co-ordinating development or review of relevant policies with other UKRI Councils, funders, Academies and other stakeholders
  • Representing the MRC externally, and managing the relationship with external bodies funded by MRC in pursuit of policy aims (eg Nuffield Council of Bioethics, NC3Rs)
  • Ensuring the MRC’s information and knowledge management policies and procedures support the delivery of accountability and transparency requirements and compliance with information legislation
  • Interpreting the implications of UK and EU legislation for the MRC’s research, and ensuring that the interests of the UK biomedical research community are represented effectively to government in relation to any proposed legislative or regulatory changes.

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Director of Capital & Estates

Susan Simon

Susan Simon

  • To ensure that the MRC research facilities fully support the world leading science delivered by the MRC scientists and are operated in accordance with relevant standards and legislation
  • To ensure that the MRC complies with its responsibilities under Health & Safety and engaging with the Units and Institutes to improve on H&S performance
  • To ensure a close relationship between the MRC and it’s Units and Institutes and providing support in developing project plans for future developments
  • To ensure that all estates related projects are delivered within their given budgets and timelines and the expected benefits
  • Representing MRC’s interests on projects in collaboration with Universities and Charities, ensuring good governance and protecting MRC investment
  • Supporting the Chief Operating and Finance officer in the management of capital funds
  • Mentoring staff in areas of project management, particularly setting up and managing construction projects.

Clinical Director

Patrick Chinnery

Professor Patrick Chinnery plays a key role in developing, promoting and implementing MRC research programmes, working with national and international partners. He aims to help deliver the translation of the world’s most exciting research into human biology and disease rapidly into to improved healthcare. As a practising clinician he is well placed to do so.

Professor Chinnery’s clinical expertise is in neurology. He worked in Newcastle for many years, latterly as Director of the Institute of Genetic Medicine. In 2015 he moved to Cambridge where he leads a research programme on mitochondrial genomics and human diseases in the MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit.

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Director of Strategy and Planning

Glenn Wells

Glenn Wells

Supporting the MRC Executive Chair by:

  • Overseeing the effective and coordinated development, review and approval of major MRC strategies and plans including identifying emerging issues and research and related policy ideas for MRC or UKRI overall.
  • Supporting Strategy Board and managing a set of “Overview Groups”/other high-level advisory committees as needed by MRC.
  • Leading MRC’s contribution to UKRI submissions to future Government’s Comprehensive Spending Reviews and similar reviews where these impact upon MRC’s ability to deliver its mission.
  • Working to ensure that bids being developed for centralised UKRI funding streams (including SPF, ISCF, GCRF, SIPF) are aligned with MRC’s overarching research strategy.
  • Developing coherence across UKRI’s research and innovation plans in health and ensure MRC has effective connections with biomedical/health research ideas and plans across UK Government (including devolved administrations) and the NHS to include work on education, families, work, environment, ageing and business
  • Ensuring that MRC’s objectives synergise where appropriate with the activities of other research funding organisations, both in the UK and internationally.

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Interim Director for COVID-19 Response

Jonathan Pearce

Jonathan Pearce

  • Jonathan Pearce joined the MRC in 2008. Prior to this Jonathan undertook academic research at Cambridge, Oxford and Toronto, followed by roles in life sciences venture capital and strategic consulting. Jonathan is currently Interim Director for Covid-19 Response, and in his time at MRC has had responsibility for Infections and Immunity, including leading the MRC’s Zika rapid response, Chairing the £85m UKRI AMR initiative and the UK AMR Funders Forum, led the Council’s £60 million precision medicine initiative, and established the Council’s translational research funding scheme, the DPFS.

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