Stem cell expert Melanie Welham has been confirmed as executive chair of the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.
Currently interim chief executive, Professor Welham will lead the research council as part of the umbrella organisation UK Research and Innovation from April.
Previously a professor of molecular signalling at the University of Bath, Professor Welham joined BBSRC in 2012 and took over as interim chief executive from Jackie Hunter in March 2016. She was the first woman in her department at Bath to be appointed a professorship.
Sir Mark Walport, UKRI chief executive designate, said that Professor Welham had an “excellent track record” both as interim leader and in her work as a research leader.
“Melanie has played a central role in developing and delivering the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and I look forward to continuing to work closely with her as we now embark on establishing UK Research and Innovation,” he said.
Professor Welham said that she was “delighted” to continue leading the research council, “to work in partnership to keep the UK at the global forefront of research and innovation”.
“The excellent research, people and infrastructure that BBSRC invests in makes a real difference to how we understand the world around us,” she said. “Creatively exploring the frontiers of bioscience yields remarkable insights into how life works and will, in turn, improve our lives; giving us secure and nutritious food, renewable resources, and better health for us and our animals.”
Her appointment may be subject to a pre-appointment hearing by MPs on the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee.