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Executive

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:

  • Deputy Chief Executive, International - Mr Steve Visscher
  • Executive Group - 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 (UKRI). Executive Group comprises the Executive Chair, Deputy Chief Executive and Executive Directors
  • Office Management Group - deals with operation of the BBSRC Office; reports to Executive Group.

Executive structure

Deputy Chief Executive, International - Mr Steve Visscher CBE

Steve Visscher

Steve has extensive experience of the UK research councils. He has worked for BBSRC since 1994 and previously for predecessor research councils and associated institutes.

Before becoming Deputy Chief Executive, Steve was BBSRC's Executive Director, with particular responsibility for funding policy, including the Research Councils UK project on reform of the dual support system, resource management, large capital projects and operations. He is a Fellow of the Society of Biology, the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and the Institute of Internal Auditors.

As Deputy Chief Executive, International, Steve's responsibilities include:

  • deputising for the Executive Chair
  • overseeing international strategy and implementation; leading formation of international consortia
  • chairing G20 Wheat Initiative Institutions' Coordinating Committee
  • Vice-Chair for the International Wheat Yield Partnership
  • leading development and coordination of BBSRC wheat strategy and investments
  • representing BBSRC on the Rothamsted Board of Trustees, IBERS External Advisory Board and Norwich Research Park LLP Board.

Email Steve Visscher


Executive Director, Science - 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, Science, Amanda has responsibility for:

  • Science strategy, including horizon scanning
  • Responsive mode
  • UK-US research funding partnerships
  • Representing BBSRC on the Synthetic Biology Leadership Council and ELIXIR Board
  • Global Challenge’s Research Fund.

Email Amanda Collis


Executive Director, Innovation and Skills - 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 Innovation and Skills Group, 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, Innovation and Skills, Karen’s responsibilities include:

  • Innovation strategy, particularly through research and innovation campuses
  • Business engagement, and interactions with Innovate UK
  • Knowledge exchange and commercialisation, including enabling the emergence of bioscience based businesses
  • High level skills developments in the biosciences
  • Representing BBSRC on the Rainbow Seed Fund, NRP Translational Fund and Plant Bioscience Ltd.

Email Karen Lewis


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

  • Leading BBSRC’s strategic priority in agriculture and food security (one of the three ‘grand challenges’ identified in the strategic plan)
  • Leading the development of BBSRC’s Strategic Plan and input to spending reviews
  • Delivering effective evaluation and case studies programmes as evidence of impact
  • Leading BBSRC’s engagement with key universities
  • Delivering BBSRC’s policy evidence base
  • Leading BBSRC’s bioeconomy strategy.

Email Paul Burrows


Executive Director, Communications & Information Management - Mr Paul Gemmill

Paul Gemmill

Paul studied modern history at Oxford before gaining an MBA from London Business School. Before 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. Prior to that Paul worked in the private sector for National Power PLC. Paul is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology.

As Executive Director, Communications and Information Management, Paul's current responsibilities include:

  • Leading BBSRC's communications and public engagement activities working with key partners in the industry, academic community, government and beyond in the UK and internationally
  • Leading BBSRC’s relationship with its eight strategically funded institutes including the delivery of a £370+ million, long term funding programme
  • Acting as the sponsor for the Communications and Public Engagement work stream for the setup of UK Research and Innovation
  • Overseeing BBSRC's project management of a range of major projects
  • Delivering modern information systems and management to BBSRC.

Previously Paul’s responsibilities have included:

  • Leading the research councils for the 2015 Comprehensive Spending Review including securing what became the 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 and chairing the research councils’ UK Synthetic Biology Working Group.

Email Paul Gemmill


Executive Director, Finance & Campus Operations - Mr David Parfrey

David Parfrey

David has over 30 years' experience of leading significant business transformation, gained while working for organisations such as British Gas and QinetiQ during their periods of major change. His extensive experience is diverse, ranging from procuring jet fighters to leading major IT transformation projects; he was also instrumental in the work behind securing a £5.6 billion contract for a previous employer.

David joined the research councils in 2006, initially leading finance in EPSRC, and for a short time leading finance in both EPSRC and AHRC before joining BBSRC late in 2008. David is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, the Royal Society of Biology and the Institute of Directors.

As Executive Director, Finance & Campus Operations David’s responsibilities include:

  • all aspects of financial management; corporate risk management and corporate governance in BBSRC
  • oversight of strategic estates management for both BBSRC and NERC, a diverse estate portfolio of some 2,500 hectares
  • oversight of major construction projects, to date over 20 major new buildings have been delivered under David’s leadership, including the multi-award winning Plowright high containment building at Pirbright;
  • hosting of the Swindon Campus Facilities Management operation on behalf of all resident organisations
  • hosting of the unit that provides assurance on all grants awarded by UKRI
  • chairing the Board of Directors of BBSRCs joint venture company, Leaf Expression Systems
  • taking the role of Nominee Non-Executive Director of Babraham BioScience Technologies Ltd
  • taking the role of Nominee Non-Executive Director of Aberystwyth Innovation & Enterprise Campus Ltd
  • taking the role of Nominee Non-Executive Director of QI Partners Ltd & Chairing their Audit & Risk Committee.

Email David Parfrey - Follow David Parfrey on Twitter


Executive Director, People & Development - Ms Jan Juillerat

Janet Juillerat

Jan studied for a degree in English literature and linguistics before beginning her career in human resources. She is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD and holds an MA in HRM and an MBA. Jan spent most of her early career in further and higher education, joining the research councils in 2003 and BBSRC in 2005. Jan has a broad remit and interests in governance, leadership and organisational development; and a commitment to delivering organisational performance through people. She is a qualified OD practitioner and executive coach.

Jan’s current responsibilities include:

  • Leading and directing all areas of people and development, including health, safety, biosafety and security
  • Chair of the research councils Pension Scheme Management Board
  • Member of the UKRI Operations Oversight Board
  • Member of the UKRI Change Board
  • Chair of the research councils HR Directors
  • Chair of the BBSRC Operations Group
  • BBSRC strategic lead for The Pirbright Institute.

Email Jan Juillerat