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University of Cambridge neurologist Prof Patrick Chinnery to head up Medical Research Council

Professor Patrick Chinnery, head of the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Cambridge, will become the new executive chair of the Medical Research Council (MRC) from October.

The appointment was made by the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, Michelle Donelan, who said: “Professor Chinnery brings a wealth of experience as a practising clinician and an already established and valued member of the Medical Research Council.

Patrick Chinnery, head of the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Cambridge, becomes executive chair of the MRC from October
Patrick Chinnery, head of the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Cambridge, becomes executive chair of the MRC from October

“By heading up one of the UK’s key public funding bodies for medical research, he will spearhead delivery of high-quality training and fellowships for researchers and funding for life-changing discoveries that are so crucial to our country’s health and wellbeing.

“I also pay tribute to Professor John Iredale for his work as interim executive chair and thank him for his invaluable service.”

Prof Chinnery is currently the MRC’s director of clinical sciences and professor of neurology at Cambridge and an honorary consultant neurologist at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust.

His key research interest is the role of mitochondria in human disease and investigating ways to develop new treatments for mitochondrial disorders.

Prof Chinnery said: “Opportunities to advance human health through research have never been greater, and the UK is in a very strong position globally. It will be a real privilege to lead the MRC at this exciting time, working with colleagues in UKRI and across the sector to deliver scientific and clinical impact.”

He will oversee the MRC’s funding programmes and be responsible for its annual core budget alongside infrastructure and other cross-cutting UKRI funding allocated to the MRC. He will also be responsible for MRC’s portfolio of institutes, which include the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, as well as for the council’s wider role in providing training and support for the UK medical research community.

Prof Anne Ferguson-Smith, pro-vice chancellor for research at the University of Cambridge, said: “Many congratulations to Patrick on his appointment as executive chair of the MRC. In addition to being a world-leading active researcher in mitochondrial disease genetics, Patrick brings a wealth of MRC experience to this role, most recently as its Clinical Director and I know he has a strong commitment to the development of our next generation of biomedical researchers.

“These are important times for the MRC as it continues to invest in fundamental discovery research in the life sciences, experimental medicine and the translation of both to the clinic. His is an excellent appointment and we wish Patrick all the very best as he takes the helm at the MRC.”

Prof Chinnery joins the other UKRI executive chairs as a member of the UKRI senior leadership team.

UKRI chief executive Dame Ottoline Leyser said: "Professor Chinnery is an exceptional leader who will play a key role in the continued development of UKRI and the Medical Research Council, ensuring it maintains its pivotal role in driving excellence in the biomedical and health sciences.

"He brings a great breadth of experience from across the medical sciences combined with a deep knowledge of the organisation from his time as MRC’s Director of Clinical Sciences. I look forward to continuing to work with him in his new role.

"I would also like to take this opportunity to express my profound thanks to Professor John Iredale for his superb service and leadership as MRC's interim executive chair, on which Prof Chinnery will build."

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