Jeremy Farrar will take over one of most important jobs in UK science at the beginning of October.
He replaces Sir Mark Walport, who stepped down at the end of March to become the government’s chief scientific advisor. Ted Bianco, the trust’s director of technology transfer, will continue as acting director in the interim.
Sir William Castell, chair of the trust, said Professor Farrar – who is also a global scholar at Princeton University – was an “inspirational leader”, whose direction of the trust’s Major Overseas Programme in Vietnam, since 1996, has seen it develop rapidly into “a world-class centre for infectious disease research”.
“Jeremy is one of the foremost scientists of his generation, whose work – much of it funded by the trust - has contributed to better understanding, surveillance, prevention and treatment of diseases including emerging infections, influenza, tuberculosis, typhoid and dengue fever.
“We are confident that we could not have found a better person to build on the exceptional work that Sir Mark has overseen…over the past decade.”
Professor Farrar, who has contributed to over 450 papers and serves on several World Health Organisation advisory committees, was appointed an OBE in 2005 for services to tropical medicine.
He has also been awarded Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City Medal for his work on H5N1 avian flu.
He described the trust – which is supported by an endowment of more than £14.5 billion – as “one of the world’s outstanding philanthropic institutions and one of the UK’s most remarkable national assets”.
“It will be a privilege to lead an organisation that has contributed so much to science, medicine and society, from the sequencing of the human genome, to the development of today’s front-line treatments for malaria,” he said.
“As a scientist who is grateful to have received trust funding for my own work, I know first-hand how its flexible support makes such achievements possible.”
Meanwhile, advocacy group the Campaign for Science and Engineering has announced that its new director will be molecular biologist Sarah Main.
Dr Main previously worked in a policy role at the Medical Research Council. Most recently she was seconded to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to work on building evidence for the value of public research funding for the UK economy ahead of this year’s spending review.
She will take up the role at the beginning of June. She replaces Imran Khan, who is now chief executive of the British Science Association.
CaSE chair Hugh Griffiths said Dr Main “brings deep knowledge of science policy, as well as experience of working as a research scientist”.