Edith Heard to succeed Sir Paul Nurse as Crick Institute director

European Molecular Biology Laboratory boss will lead the Crick from next summer as Nobel laureate director steps back

July 9, 2024
Source: Francis Crick Institute

The head of Europe’s leading life sciences laboratory has been named the new director of the Francis Crick Institute.

Edith Heard, who has led the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) since 2019, will take over from Sir Paul Nurse at the central London research centre in summer 2025, the Crick announced on 8 July.

Sir Paul, the Crick’s founding director, will continue to maintain a laboratory at the institute, it added.

Professor Heard is a British geneticist who has spent most of her career in Paris, leading research groups at the College de France and the Pasteur Institute, where she was director of its genetics and developmental biology department.

In January 2019, she took over at EMBL, a network of six major laboratories across Europe that employs about 1,800 staff and is supported by 29 European governments.

On her move to the Crick, Europe’s largest biomedical research centre under a single roof, which has about 1,500 staff and opened in 2016, Professor Heard said she was “delighted to be able to take up this position at one of the world’s premier scientific institutions, although very sad to leave EMBL next year”.

“The Francis Crick Institute has quickly established a global reputation for its work at the frontiers of science. I relish the challenge of building on that work,” she continued.

“I also want to pay tribute to Sir Paul Nurse, without whom the Francis Crick Institute would not be the world-leading institution it is today.”

On stepping down as the Crick’s director, Sir Paul said the institute was “a home for some of the best life scientists in the world, carrying out high-quality, discovery-based research and helping the UK to play a leading role in solving global health challenges”.

“I want to thank everyone who has helped make the institute what it is today. Without your hard work and team effort, it would not have been possible. I am excited to retain my laboratory team at the Crick and continue pursuing my research,” he added.

“The decision to step down from the director role has been made much easier by knowing that in Professor Heard, the institute has an excellent scientist and leader. I am completely confident that the Crick will continue to flourish under her leadership.”

Commenting on the announcement, Lord Browne of Madingley, the Crick’s chairman, said Professor Heard had been appointed after a “global, year-long search for an exceptional candidate to lead our exceptional institute”.

Professor Heard, who was educated at the University of Cambridge and took her PhD at Imperial College London, had, Lord Browne said, “an exemplary international research record, compelling vision and strong leadership experience”.

“She will enable the Crick to continue to grow, building on its reputation for research excellence and for being the home for world-class leaders in life sciences.”


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