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MRC Research Board Chair Vacancy

The Medical Research Council (MRC) is a publicly funded organisation and a member of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). We support excellent science and train the very best scientists across the medical research spectrum, from fundamental lab-based studies to population-level research.

Our four research boards are the main vehicle through which the MRC discharges its mission. The boards oversee the MRC’s scientific portfolio, review developments, identify and pursue priority areas for investment, and contribute to MRC’s scientific strategy. Each board has an annual budget of around £30-40 million to support new research, the development of tools and techniques, and contribute to MRC’s training and career development activities.

Board chairs are normally appointed for four years and MRC is currently looking for a new chair for the Population & Systems Medicine Board (PSMB) to commence their appointment on 1 April 2020.

Population & Systems Medicine Board (PSMB)

PSMB supports mechanistic, applied and epidemiological research to unlock the complexity of human health and disease across the life course. It is responsible for the MRC’s investments related to the physiology and pathophysiology of all the major organs and systems with the exception of the brain and the immune system.

PSMB’s remit also reaches forward to population health and the impact of environmental factors, including the social environment and socio-economic determinants of health and disease. The Board takes a systems-approach including both internal and external factors and integrating multimodal data sources (such as genetics with metabolomics, data from animal and human studies, MRC’s strong population cohorts) to understand control pathways and mechanisms, their interactions with major organs - from individual to population level.

The Board supports investigator-led grants and a range of strategic investments and partnerships. It has a particular strategic interest in chronic disease research, examining the contribution of ageing, multi-morbidity, nutrition, and rare genetic disorders, both within the UK and as a growing global health concern. The overall objective is to transform human health by supporting research into early identification of trajectories to chronic disease; precision medicine approaches to therapeutic intervention; population-level interventions to prevent chronic disease and multimorbidity; and translation of discovery into policy and practice both within the UK and globally.

PSMB works in partnership with a range of national and international stakeholders, including other UKRI research councils, disease-based charities, industry, the NHS and devolved Departments of Health.

Nominations for this key role from higher education institutions, research charities and industry, would be welcomed by the deadline of 16:00 GMT+1 3 September 2019.

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 PSMB 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 3 September 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 selected for interview will be notified in late July 2019. Interviews will be held in early September and appointments will be ratified at the October 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 Population and Systems Medicine 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 and related fields; we are particularly interested in clinically-qualified researchers
  • 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 leading 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 such as a research group or university department
  • the ability to work effectively within the public sector’s requirements for accountability and openness, and within financial constraints
  • a commitment to the MRC’s mission and broad objectives
  • the 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 Population & Systems Medicine Board's page.

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