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UKRI-BBSRC Council is responsible for advising and making decisions, as delegated to it by the UK Research and Innovation Board, on scientific, research and innovation matters.

These responsibilities include:

  • The leadership of their discipline area or fields of activity, including the prioritisation of budgets within their delegated remits and the development of delivery plans
  • Ensuring the future of skilled specialists, researchers, scientists and others essential to the sustainability of the UK’s research and innovation capacity
  • Engaging with their community to develop ideas, raise awareness and disseminate strategic outputs
  • Encouraging and facilitating collaborative work across the nine UKRI Councils to foster strategic relationships

Meeting dates and minutes


Professor Ewan Birney

Copyright: The Royal Society

Ewan Birney is Director of EMBL-EBI, and runs a small research group. He played a vital role in annotating the genome sequences of human, mouse, chicken and several other organisms. He led the analysis group for the ENCODE project, which is defining functional elements in the human genome. Ewan’s main areas of research include functional genomics, assembly algorithms, statistical methods to analyse genomic information (in particular information associated with individual differences) and compression of sequence information.

Ewan completed his PhD at the Wellcome Sanger Institute with Richard Durbin. He has received a number of prestigious awards including the 2003 Francis Crick Award from The Royal Society, the 2005 Overton Prize from the International Society for Computational Biology and the 2005 Benjamin Franklin Award for contributions in Open Source Bioinformatics. Ewan was elected a Fellow of The Royal Society in 2014 and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2015.

Ewan is a non-executive Director of Genomics England, and is a consultant and advisor to a number of companies, including Oxford Nanopore Technologies and GSK. He is also the Chair of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH).

Term: 1 April 2019 until 31 March 2022.

Dr Belinda Clarke

Belinda Clarke

Belinda is Director of Agri-Tech East, a regional cluster organisation connecting farmers and growers with researchers, technologists, entrepreneurs and investors to support the economic growth, agricultural productivity and environmental sustainability of the agri-tech value chain.

Prior to her current role, Belinda was Lead Technologist for Biosciences at Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board). In a previous role she was Director of Innovation Ecosystems at ideaSpace at the University of Cambridge, a pre-incubator supporting early stage ventures, and prior to that was Life Sciences Manager for the East of England Development Agency, based at One Nucleus. She has worked as an International Trade Advisor for biotechnology and pharmaceuticals with UK Trade and Investment, and was Science Liaison Manager at the Norwich Research Park, focussed on brokering relationships between academia and industry, and promoting the science of the Park.

Belinda has a first degree in Natural Sciences (part II Plant Sciences) from the University of Cambridge and a PhD in plant biochemistry from the John Innes Centre, UK. She is a Trustee of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association, a Nuffield Scholar, Fellow of the Society of Biology, Chartered Biologist, and a qualified business coach.

Term ends: 31 March 2021.

Professor Ian Graham

Ian gained his first degree in Botany and Genetics from Queen’s University Belfast in 1986 and his PhD in Plant Molecular Biology from The University of Edinburgh before doing postdoctoral research at the Universities of Oxford and Stanford. His first faculty position was in the Department of Biochemistry, University of Glasgow in 1993 and he moved to the Chair of Biochemical Genetics in the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP), University of York in 1999. He was Deputy Director of CNAP from 2003-2008, Director from 2008-2013 and Head of Department of Biology from 2014-2018.

During his career Ian has made significant contributions to our understanding of plant metabolism and seed biology. His most recent research has shed new light on the production of small molecule natural products from plants such as the anti-cancer compound noscapine, morphinan-based analgesics such as codeine and morphine, and the antimalarial drug artemisinin. Funding for his research comes from a range of sources including industry, UK government including BBSRC, EU, UK and overseas charities.

In 2016 Ian was elected a Fellow of The Royal Society (FRS) and a member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO). In 2017 he was awarded the Biochemical Society’s Heatley Medal and Prize for exceptional work in applying advances in biochemistry, particularly in developing practical uses that have created widespread benefits and value for society.

Term ends: 31 March 2021.

Professor Laura Green

Professor Green is an epidemiologist whose research is in endemic diseases of farmed livestock, taking a multidisciplinary approach working with biologists, mathematicians and psychologists to understand disease processes and control and adoption of changes in practice by end users. She has collaborated with scientists and knowledge exchange providers to improve the health and welfare of livestock. She was awarded the Royal Agricultural Society research medal in 2013 and an OBE for services to farmed livestock in 2017.

She is Chair of the agriculture and food security strategy advisory panel at The University of Birmingham, Chair of the BBSRC Agriculture and Food Security Strategy Advisory Panel and a member of the Food Standards Agency Science Council. She was on the UoA6 panel for the 2014 Research Excellence Framework.

Term ends: 31 March 2022.

Professor Martin Humphries

Martin Humphries is Professor of Biochemistry at The University of Manchester. He carried out postdoctoral research at the Howard University Cancer Center, Washington, D.C., USA and at the National Cancer Institute, NIH, Bethesda, MD, USA. In 1988, he was awarded a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellowship to return to Manchester. In 1995, he progressed to a Principal Research Fellowship and co-founded the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell-Matrix Research, which he directed from 2000-2009. From 2008-2016, he was Vice-President & Dean of the Faculty of Life Sciences. Professor Humphries is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and The Royal Society of Biology, and a member of Academia Europaea. He has served as Chair of the Biochemical Society and Vice-President of the Academy of Medical Sciences. The long-term aim of the research conducted in his laboratory is to elucidate the mechanisms by which adhesion controls cell behaviour. A current focus is the ternary connection between extracellular matrix rigidity, signals transduced by adhesion receptor-associated complexes and cell cycle progression.

Term ends: 31 March 2022.

Dr Deborah Keith

Dr Deborah Keith

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 Ottoline Leyser

Ottoline Leyser is Professor of Plant Development and Director of the Sainsbury Laboratory at the University of Cambridge. Her research focuses on the mechanisms underlying developmental plasticity in plants, using the hormonal control of shoot branching in Arabidopsis as a model system. She is a Fellow of The Royal Society, a Member of the Leopoldina and a Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences. She chaired the Nuffield Council on Bioethic’s Research Culture report. She currently chairs The Royal Society’s Science Policy Advisory Group and serves on the Council for Science and Technology. In 2017 she was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to plant science, science in society and equality and diversity in science.

Term ends: 31 March 2022.

Professor Andrew Millar

Andrew Millar is an interdisciplinary biologist with a longstanding interest in 24-hour biological rhythms and over 120 peer-reviewed publications. Andrew was elected an EMBO member, FRS and FRSE in 2010-2013 for his research on the biological clock in plants, which integrates experimental genetics and molecular biology, plant physiology, ‘omics, mathematical modelling and computer science. Andrew grew up in Luxembourg and studied Genetics at the University of Cambridge, followed by a Ph.D. in Plant Molecular Genetics at The Rockefeller University, New York. After postdoctoral research at the NSF Center for Biological Timing in Virginia, he joined The University of Warwick. Growing interest in systems and synthetic biology contributed to a move to The University of Edinburgh in 2005, where he co-founded and directed the SynthSys research centre (2007-2012). His past roles include serving as Director of Systems Biology for the Scottish Universities Life Science Alliance (2007-2009), and P.I. for GARNet (2004-2009), which represents roughly 200 laboratories of the UK‘s Arabidopsis research community. He currently serves as Director of Research for Biological Sciences at The University of Edinburgh, and his interests include research data management and macro-economic impacts on science. He is also on the Board of Directors for James Hutton Institute.

Term ends: 31 March 2021.

Professor Malcolm Skingle

Malcolm has BSc in Pharmacology/Biochemistry and a PhD in Neuropharmacology. He has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for over 40 years and gained a wide breadth of experience in management of research activities. Part of his former role as a research leader in a Neuropharmacology department involved co-supervising collaborations with academics in the UK, Europe and USA. He has over 60 publications including articles on the interface between industry and academia.

He coordinates Academic Liaison at GSK, managing staff in the US and UK. His role involves close liaison with several groups outside the Company for example government departments, research and funding councils, biotechnology companies and other science-driven organisations. He sits on many external bodies including the HEFCE REF Main Panel A and the BPS Council. He also chairs several groups including the Diamond (Synchrotron) Industrial Advisory Board, the Science Industry Partnership for apprenticeships and the ABPI group working on academic liaison.

Malcolm was awarded a CBE in the 2009 Queen’s Birthday Honours in recognition of his contribution to the pharmaceutical industry as well as an Honorary Professorship from the University of Birmingham and an honorary DSc from the University of Hertfordshire. Malcolm was elected as a Fellow into the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College London in 2011.

Term ends: 31 March 2022.

Professor David Stephens

David is Professor of Cell Biology at the University of Bristol. Following postdoctoral work at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, in 2001 he moved to the University of Bristol as an MRC Non-Clinical Research Fellow and was appointed to his current role in 2010. David has had held key leadership roles within the University of Bristol including as Research Director for the School of Biochemistry and as Chair of the Steering Group for the Wolfson Bioimaging Facility. With BBSRC, David has worked on several peer review and advisory panels, including as Chair of Research Committee D and as a member of Research Advisory Panel. Additional roles have included serving on committees of both the British Society for Cell Biology and Royal Microscopical Society as well as editorial work for several journals. His own research in Bristol is centred on understanding the molecular mechanisms of cell organisation and function, notably using advanced microscopy methods to probe membrane and cytoskeleton dynamics. David’s work includes multidisciplinary approaches integrating chemistry, physics, and mathematics with biology, as well as close collaboration with clinical colleagues to understand how these normal cellular functions fail in disease.

Term ends: 31 March 2020.

Professor Ian Boyd - Chief Scientific Adviser

See: GOV.UK: Defra Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Ian Boyd.

Meeting dates and minutes


  • 9 March
  • 16 June
  • 2 September
  • 7 December


  • 11 March
  • 10 June
  • 9 September
  • 9 December


  • 13 March
  • 12 June
  • 27 September
  • 4 December