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Appointments Board

Roles and responsibilities

The UKRI-BBSRC Appointments Board operates under delegated authority from the UKRI-BBSRC Executive Chair and is responsible for making decisions on appointments to BBSRC’s Strategy Advisory Panels, Pool of Experts, Committees and Panels, based on recommendations from the BBSRC office.

In undertaking this activity, the Board is responsible for ensuring that:

  • good practice in equality, inclusion and diversity is embedded and promoted in all its activities
  • there is an open and transparent selection process for the appointment of members
  • appointments are made on the basis of quality and suitability to carry out the required activities, against defined criteria
  • the Panel or Committee collectively provides appropriate and balanced expertise, skills and knowledge to deliver its responsibilities, and is representative of the needs and interests of the relevant stakeholder and user communities

Members

Dr Deborah Keith (Chair)

Dr Deborah Keith has over 30 years of experience in the science and technology sector, most recently in corporate R&D with Syngenta, a global agri-business. Following an early career in academic research in plant genetics, and in international development in Bhutan, she has spent the majority of her time focused on the commercialization of R&D innovation, which included heading up the Syngenta crop protection research portfolio to deliver global products to development, and leading R&D strategy development and organisational change. As Head of External Collaborations at Syngenta, Dr Keith headed global teams to build strategic partnerships with academia and commercial enterprises.

Dr Keith is currently Chair of James Hutton Ltd., Non-Executive Director of the Boards of RedAg Crop Protection Ltd., the John Innes Centre, the Aerospace Technology Institute and the James Hutton Institute, and Council member of the University of Warwick. She has previously been a consultant for Basagene working for the Bhutan Department of Agriculture, and conducted research at the John Innes Centre and University of Reading.

Term ends: 31 March 2020

Professor Stefan Przyborski (Deputy Chair)

Stefan Przyborski is Professor of Cell Technology at Durham University. He has a background in animal cell biology and completed his PhD in Sheffield. He has had fellowships to the USA to research at the Jackson Laboratory and worked with industry in Princeton. His research focuses on understanding how the micro-environment in which cells grow influence their structure and function to enable the construction of human tissue models for use in research and development. Much of this work is based on the fundamental principles of anatomy and physiology, where the morphology of cells and their surroundings is related to their function. His research is interdisciplinary involving cell biology, chemistry and engineering, and applied to develop novel technologies to bioengineer equivalents of human tissues.

Stefan founded Durham spin-out company, Reinnervate, based on the translation of research emanating from his laboratory to construct three dimensional tissues in vitro.  His business produced Alvetex, the market leading cell culture product. The company was sold to Reprocell group in 2014. Stefan continues to work with Reprocell Europe as consultant Chief Scientific Office leading R&D of novel human tissue models that can be used in academia and industry for basic research, drug screening and safety assessment. He has received numerous awards for his innovations and is passionate about developing alternatives to animal research.

Stefan has significant experience assessing research quality (REF2014, 2021 panel member) and managing the allocation of research funding (Chair BBSRC Response Mode; Chair NC3Rs Project grants; Chair Industrial Case studentships; UKRI Joint Research Partnerships and FLF). He is currently the co-Chair of the UKRI BBSRC Appointment Panel and has served on numerous strategy groups for RCUK. Stefan is the current President of the Anatomical Society for Great Britain and Ireland.

Term ends: 31 December 2021

Professor Adrian Mulholland

Professor Adrian Mulholland has worked on modelling enzymes, and biomolecular simulation more generally, for over 25 years. Following doctoral studies in Oxford, work in industry with ICI Central Toxicology Lab and Pharmaceuticals, and postdoctoral work with Martin Karplus at Harvard, he is now Professor of Chemistry at the University of Bristol. He works on the development and application of multiscale modelling methods, in areas ranging from biocatalysis to drug metabolism and antimicrobial resistance. His research interests span protein dynamics, enzyme catalysis, enzyme thermoadaptation and evolution, high performance computing, and interactive simulation in virtual reality. His work has shown how computational enzymology complements experiment in revealing catalytic mechanisms, analysing effects of mutation, enzyme inhibition and drug resistance, and in developing computational ‘assays’ of enzyme activity.

Professor Mulholland is Chair of the cross-Council Collaborative Computational Project Steering Panel. He is also Chair of CCP-BioSim, the UK Collaborative Computational Project on Biomolecular Simulation (ccpbiosim.ac.uk), and of the Steering Group of the UK Catalysis Hub. He holds current research funding from BBSRC, EPSRC, Janssen Pharmaceuticals and BP, and has held research fellowships from the Wellcome Trust and EPSRC.

Term ends: 31 December 2021

Professor Alison Smith

Professor Alison Smith is a Group Leader at the John Innes Centre, Norwich, with a research programme on plant carbohydrate metabolism. Until April 2019 she was the Deputy Director of the John Innes Centre and led a large Institute Strategic Programme on plant and animal natural products. She has an honorary Chair at the University of East Anglia, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society. She has long experience of serving on BBSRC committees and panels, including as Chair of Research Committee B and the Food Security Scientific Advisory Panel. She has also chaired or been a member of various grant-awarding and review panels for BBSRC initiatives. Among other international roles, she has been a long-serving member of Scientific Advisory Boards for two Max Planck Institutes in Germany.

Term ends: 31 December 2020

Professor Arne Akbar

Professor Arne Akbar is an Immunologist with 35 years research experience.   He did his BSc at Kings College, London, PhD at the University of Southampton and Postdoctoral research at the Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York, Cornell University Medical School New York and The Royal Free Medical School, London. He is currently Professor of Immunology at UCL and his group investigates mechanisms of leukocyte senescence. They developed new methods for investigating human immune responses in vivo. In a recent study they showed that that by blocking systemic inflammation in vivo with a GSK anti-inflammatory drug (Losmapimod), they could reverse this defect. His group also recently identified a novel inhibitory protein complex in senescent T cells that could be blocked to enhance leukocyte function during ageing. He also has links with the pharmaceutical industry and was closely involved in the development of an antirejection drug for solid organ transplants Basiliximab (Simulect) by Novartis that has been used to treat >350,000 patients worldwide.

Akbar has many international collaborations with the Rockefeller University New York, University of Michigan, Buck Institute San Francisco, and The Leo Foundation in Copenhagen and in Singapore. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists. He is currently the President of the British Society for Immunology (2018-2022).

Term ends: 31 December 2021

Professor Helen Sang

Professor Helen Sang received a degree in Natural Sciences and PhD in genetics from Cambridge University. She continued developing a research career at Harvard and Edinburgh Universities, supported by Fellowships awarded by the SERC and MRC, and was then appointed as a Principal Investigator at The Roslin Institute. The Roslin Institute joined the University of Edinburgh in 2007, as part of the Royal (Dick) School for Veterinary Sciences. Helen was promoted to a Personal Chair in Vertebrate Molecular Development in 2009 and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Royal Society of Biology. Her personal research focus at The Roslin Institute has been the development of technologies for genetic modification of the chicken and their application in diverse areas of research. These include investigating the potential for developing disease resistance in production chickens and using the chick embryo as a model for development of the human embryo (funded by BBSRC, MRC and Wellcome Trust). This has lead to involvement in public engagement to discuss these opportunities with policy makers, industry and the wider public. Helen lead the Roslin Institute’s successful Athena SWAN gold award application, supporting opportunities for career advancement of women in science.

Term ends: 31 December 2020

Professor Jane Hurst

Professor Jane Hurst is the William Prescott Professor of Animal Science at the University of Liverpool, a post that she has held since 1998 following a series of research council fellowships at the University of Nottingham. Her main research interests are in scent communication, reproductive strategies, rodent pest control, animal welfare and the interactions between behaviour and disease. She jointly heads the Mammalian Behaviour and Evolution Group, is deputy head of the Department of Evolution, Ecology and Behaviour, and teaches within Liverpool’s School of Veterinary Science.

Professor Hurst has served on many BBSRC funding committees, strategy panels and advisory groups in the bioscience for health area over the last 20 years, was a founding member of the NC3Rs Board and grants panel, and served as President for the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB). She was awarded the ASAB Medal in 2017 for her contributions to animal behaviour research, and the NC3Rs Prize in 2010 for her work on non-aversive rodent handling.

Term ends: 31 December 2021

Dr Joe Adams

Dr Adams is a Scientific Leader at GlaxoSmithKline.  Within GSK he has led the development of multiple assets for primary and secondary functions across multiple indications (anti-Cancer, Parkinsons, PTSD, Depression, COPD, MS).  He has also been active in initiating, developing and embedding new technologies, most notably synthetic biochemistry.  He received the Biocat Award for Industry in 2018 (Hamburg, Aug 2018).  He has been deeply involved in establishing several large, multiple-year collaborations including Chem21, a large IMI (Innovative Manufacturing Initiative) collaboration for sustainable manufacture in the 21st century.  Within GSK he sits on the steering panel for the GlaxoSmithKline Singapore Green and Sustainable Manufacturing Collaboration. He also sits on multiple external technical, advisory and strategy panels, is a GSK Fellow and a visiting professor at the University of Manchester.  He was part of the team who developed the first Synthetic Biology Roadmap for the UK and currently leads the alliances and collaborations team for his division.

Term ends: 31 December 2020

Professor Tracy Palmer

Tracy Palmer is Professor of Microbiology at Newcastle University and for more than 20 years she has run a research group working on protein secretion pathways in bacteria.  Tracy’s research has been recognized by election to Fellowship of The Royal Societies of London and Edinburgh, and Membership of the European Molecular Biology Organisation.

She is a long-standing editor of the Journal Molecular Microbiology and has organized and chaired several international meetings including two Gordon Research Conferences. She serves the scientific community in a number of roles including as a member of Microbiology Society Council, and as panel member for both the Wellcome Trust Infection and Immunobiology Section. Tracy is currently a Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Sainsbury Laboratory, the Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine, at Queens University Belfast, the Institute of Microbiology and Infection at the University of Birmingham and the MRC Centre for Molecular Bacteriology and Infection at Imperial College. Previously she served on both Sub-panel 5 (biological sciences) and the Equality and Diversity Panel of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework.

Term ends: 31 December 2020

Meeting dates

2019

  • 17 May (strategic meeting)
  • 7 November (appointments meeting)

2018

  • 26 March (strategic meeting)
  • 12 October (appointments meeting)

2017

  • 5 April (strategic meeting)
  • 6 October (appointments meeting)

2016

  • 19 April (strategic meeting)
  • 3 October (appointments meeting)