Access keys

Skip to content Accessibility Home News, events and publications Site map Search Privacy policy Help Contact us Terms of use


The BBSRC Executive is based in Swindon, Wiltshire. It is led by the Executive Chair to whom day-to-day responsibility is delegated from the Council.

Executive Chair

The Executive Chair is Professor Melanie Welham [Executive Chair’s biography].

The Executive Chair is supported and advised by:

  • Executive Leadership Team (ELT) - meets fortnightly to discuss operational issues (chair - Executive Chair) and is responsible for taking forward actions on all matters emanating from Council and its Boards. It also ensures that relevant business is laid before Council in a timely manner and reviews business associated with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and UK Research and Innovation. Executive Group comprises the Executive Chair, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Executive Directors
  • Office Management Group - chaired by the COO, deals with operation of the BBSRC Office; reports to the ELT.

Executive structure

Governance Structure


Executive Director, Research Strategy and Programmes - Dr Amanda Collis

Amanda Collis

Amanda studied for a degree in plant sciences and PhD in fungal molecular biology before joining BBSRC in 1998. She has extensive experience of the UK research councils with strong interests in basic and strategic research, multidisciplinary approaches, funding partnerships and research infrastructures. Amanda has broad experience in UK science policy, including time spent on secondment to the Houses of Parliament, Research Councils UK and detached duty to the British Consulate General - Boston where she worked alongside the UK government’s Science and Innovation Network. Amanda is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology.

As Executive Director, Research Strategy and Programmes, Amanda has responsibility for:

  • Frontier and interdisciplinary research
  • Science strategy, including horizon scanning
  • Responsive and strategic programmes
  • International
  • Tools and technology.

Email Amanda Collis

Executive Director, Capability and Innovation - Dr Karen Lewis

Karen studied for a degree in biology and PhD in microbiology. Before joining BBSRC, she worked in commercial research and development with both a small biotechnology company and a large corporate. Karen has extensive experience within BBSRC, and the research councils in a broad range of research and innovation strategy areas. She has held a number of senior roles in what is now the BBSRC Capability and Innovation domain, including leading BBSRC business engagement activities, and establishing a knowledge exchange and commercialisation team. More recently, Karen has also been involved in developing the BBSRC research and innovation campus strategy, working on BBSRC’s bioeconomy strategy, and ensuring these enable bioscience research to deliver benefit and impact for the UK.

As Executive Director, Capability and Innovation, Karen’s responsibilities include:

  • Innovation strategy, particularly through research and innovation campuses and infrastructure
  • Business engagement
  • Programmes supporting and enabling innovation and knowledge exchange including enabling the emergence of bioscience based businesses
  • High level skills developments in the biosciences - studentships and fellowships
  • Representing BBSRC on the Rainbow Seed Fund, NRP Translational Fund and Plant Bioscience Ltd.

Email Karen Lewis

Executive Director, Policy, Strategy and Evidence- Dr Paul Burrows

Paul Burrows

Paul trained as a plant scientist and his post-doctoral research focused on plant/pathogen interactions, working for a period at Rothamsted Research. His career developed into science policy and strategy working in the UK government Department for the Environment Transport and the Regions and latterly in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Much of Paul’s policy work was around the high profile area of regulation and use of genetically modified organisms.

Paul joined BBSRC in 2002 to lead corporate policy and strategy, which covers a range of high-level planning, foresight and performance evaluation activities to help ensure that the council is an effective organisation that has a clear forward-looking high-level strategy underpinned by a sound and persuasive evidence base and informed by policy.

As Executive Director, Policy, Strategy and Evidence, Paul represents BBSRC both nationally and internationally and has specific responsibility for:

  • Corporate strategy
  • Policy development
  • Leading BBSRC’s strategic priority in agriculture and food security (one of the three ‘grand challenges’ identified in the forward look)
  • Delivering effective evaluation and case studies programmes as evidence of impact
  • Strategic partnerships with with key universities
  • Delivering BBSRC’s bioscience evidence and analysis base
  • Leading BBSRC’s bioeconomy strategy.

Email Paul Burrows

Chief Operating Officer - Mr Paul Gemmill

Paul Gemmill

Paul studied modern history at Oxford before gaining an MBA from London Business School. Prior to joining BBSRC he was Director of Regulation at the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, and in 2000 he was a founding director of the Disability Rights Commission. Paul also has considerable experience in the voluntary sector including strategic fundraising with The Prince's Trust and leading strategy for the British Red Cross Society. Previously Paul worked in the private sector for National Power PLC. Paul is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology.

As Chief Operating Office (Joint), Paul's current responsibilities include:

  • Lead for BBSRC’s relationship with its eight strategically funded institutes including the delivery of a £370m+  long term funding programme
  • BBSRC lead for Phase 2 of the £250m+ Pirbright Development Programme

In addition to the above, Paul is currently leading the UKRI ‘Reforming our Business’ programme which is focusing on improving all of UKRI’s processes impacting the applicant experience from advertising of opportunities to evaluation following the closure of an award – this relates to the distribution of £3bn+ funding/year.    It will identify and implement opportunities to harmonise and reduce the administrative burden of processes used by all applicants when engaging with UKRI.

Previously Paul’s responsibilities have included:

  • Leading the research councils for the 2015 Comprehensive Spending Review including securing what became the £1bn+ Global Challenges Research Fund
  • Senior Responsible Officer for the UK research councils’ £85 million investment in the European Molecular Biology Laboratory's ELIXIR programme
  • Representing the UK research councils on the UK Synthetic Biology Leadership Council,  chairing the research councils’ UK Synthetic Biology Working Group and leading the Research Councils’’  £100M+  Synthetic Biology for Growth programme.

Email Paul Gemmill

Chief Operating Officer (Joint) - Bill Poll

Having gained a degree in Materials Engineering, Bill began his career in the private sector, spending 25 years working in a variety of small and large (FTSE 100) organisations, initially in manufacturing operations and latterly in business improvement and project & programme management.

Since joining BBSRC in 2009, Bill has been responsible for delivering a variety of significant business change projects and programmes both on behalf of BBSRC and for the wider cross-Research Councils/UKRI community involving high complexity, multiple stakeholder environments.

In particular, as part of the senior team overseeing the implementation of BBSRC’S campus strategy, Bill has been involved in the delivery of our Research and innovation Campus programme since its initial announcement in 2011. This has included the investment, with partners, of over £200m in facilities and infrastructure at Babraham (near Cambridge), Norwich, Rothamsted, Edinburgh (Roslin Easterbush) and Aberystwyth, and the establishment and operation of multi-partner campus operating companies.

As Joint COO (alongside Paul Gemmill) Bill’s responsibilities include:

  • Executive Lead for all BBSRC activities relating to finance, estates, human resources, communications and engagement, health & safety, information management, planning & programme support, commercial and legal.
  • Leading BBSRC’s organisational transformation within UKRI.

In addition, Bill continues to represent BBSRC in the delivery of multi-partner campus capital investment projects.

Bill is also a Director of AIEC Ltd, the operating company for the Aberystwyth innovation campus.

Email Bill Poll