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MRC Research Board Chair Vacancy

The Medical Research Council (MRC) is part of UK Research and Innovation, a publicly funded organisation, supporting high-quality research and training across the medical research spectrum, from fundamental lab-based studies to population-level research.

Our four research boards are the main means through which the MRC discharges its mission; the boards oversee the MRC’s scientific portfolio and each board has an annual budget of around £30-40 million to support new research; they also contribute to the development of MRC’s scientific strategy.

Board chairs are normally appointed for four years and MRC is currently looking for a new chair for the Neurosciences and Mental Health Board (NMHB) to commence their appointment on 1 September 2019

Neurosciences & Mental Health Board (NMHB)

The Neurosciences and Mental Health Board (NMHB) is responsible for the MRC’s investments in disorders of the human nervous system. This includes, and is underpinned, by fundamental research into the human nervous system, its normal development and function, which informs our understanding of the mechanism of disease.

The Board’s strategy includes promoting research that addresses the challenges of mental illness across the life-course and neurodegenerative disease, as well as exploring what we can learn from the direct study of human brain tissue to gain system-level insight into the human brain.

To deliver its strategy, the Board supports investigator-led grants within its area of remit, and manages a range of strategic investments and partnerships. We also support the development of tools and techniques that help others carry out research on the nervous system. We are particularly interested in multidisciplinary research that will increase our understanding of the brain in health and disease, and interactions that impact on this in the whole-body or environmental context.

Nominations for this key role from higher education institutions, research charities and industry would be welcomed by the deadline of 6 May 2019 16:00 GMT+1.

Key aspects of the role

  • Ensure effective delivery of MRC scientific strategy through overseeing the review of scientific proposals and supporting objective funding decisions, in conjunction with Research Programmes Group (RPG) staff.
  • Membership of MRC Strategy Board, which is chaired by the MRC Executive Chair and is responsible for the developing and refining MRC’s overarching strategy.
  • Provide scientific oversight and direction for MRC institutes, units, centres, and initiatives with activities relevant to the NMHB portfolio.

Expectations of board chairs are outlined in the MRC Research Board’s Chair Role (PDF, 30KB).


Proposed candidates should be nominated through their host institution or employer outlining how the candidate meets the selection criteria below, confirming institutional support for the nomination and attaching a short CV (maximum of five pages) for the nominee.

Nominations should be sent to MRC.EventsandCommitteesTeam@mrc.ukri.org by 16:00 GMT+1 6 May 2019. Please include “Board Chair Recruitment” in the subject line.

In addition to nominations from employers, the MRC will consult leading experts in the field for proposed candidates.

Selection criteria

Candidates will be shortlisted for interview primarily using the criteria listed in the person specification. In addition, as board chairs sit on the MRC Strategy Board, the balance of Strategy Board’s expertise and interests will be taken into account in the selection process.

Appointments to the boards are made on merit and with independent assessment, taking account of the need to balance the board in terms of institutional and geographic experience. Applications from women, people with disabilities and members of minority ethnic groups who satisfy the above specifications are welcome.

Candidates will be ratified at the July meeting of Council.

Person specification

Candidates should have experience of leading a major research activity, or equivalent, and be proven strategic thinkers. They will have a track record of top-quality research in an area of science relevant to the Neurosciences and Mental Health Board’s remit.

Nominations should demonstrate that candidates have the time and skills to contribute across a range of MRC strategic and governance issues and participate in active professional networks within the academic community.    

Suitable candidates should demonstrate:

  • a broad understanding of biomedical research
  • a first-class record in conducting internationally leading-edge research with success in obtaining major grant funding over a number of years
  • a strong strategic perspective with the ability to tackle issues outside their immediate area of expertise
  • proven ability to exercise judgment across a broad spectrum of policy and research issues
  • experience of conducting peer review with a major funder such as MRC, Wellcome Trust, Cancer Research UK
  • excellent communication skills and experience of chairing in a complex area
  • line management experience at a senior level e.g. research group or university department
  • ability to work effectively within the public sector’s requirements for accountability and openness, and within financial constraints
  • commitment to the MRC’s mission and broad objectives
  • ability to commit up to two days per week to MRC business.

The MRC values the diverse skills and experience of the members of its boards and panels and is committed to achieving equality of treatment for all.


Chairs are expected to commit two days per week to MRC business. It is essential that individuals should be able to commit the necessary time and attention to the role and have the full support of their employer and organisation in doing so. Remuneration will be provided to the employer in line with this (see below).

Conflicts of interest

There are high standards of integrity expected by the public and parliament, and this role requires the board Chair to avoid situations in which their duties and other interests conflict with board business or where there could be a suspicion of conflict.

Board chairs must not misuse information gained in the course of their work for the MRC for personal gain or for political purpose, nor seek to use the opportunity of public service to promote their private interests, or those of connected organisations, persons, or firms.

Although previous experience with the MRC or another major funder is a requirement, a research board chair cannot be a member of a review panel for a major funder (such as Wellcome Trust, Cancer Research UK) simultaneously.

For further information on Conflicts of Interest, please visit the UKRI Conflicts of Interest page.


Board chairs will receive an annual stipend and their employer will be remunerated in recognition of the time spent on MRC business. Travel and subsistence expenses (including family care costs) will be reimbursed.

Support and induction for successful candidates

As part of the preparation for their term in office, new chairs will be invited to observe a research board and strategy board meeting in advance of their appointment. New chairs will meet with the Executive Chair, Chief Science Officer and theme leader, as well as other key members of Head Office staff, prior to the start of their tenure.

Privacy notice

All personal data provided to UK Research and Innovation for a Medical Research Council Board Chair vacancy will be processed by UK Research and Innovation in accordance with current UK data protection legislation.

The information you have provided will be retained and used to manage recruitment in accordance with the Medical Research Council’s retention policy.

The appointed individual’s Conflicts of Interest information (including name and institution) will be published on the MRC website under the Neuroscience and Mental Health Board’s page.

Further information on how we use personal data can be found in the UK Research and Innovation Privacy Notice.