MRC head to take top job at Cambridge

Sir Leszek Borysiewicz will take the reins in October 2010. Rebecca Attwood reports

November 26, 2009

The head of the Medical Research Council has been announced as the University of Cambridge’s new vice-chancellor.

Sir Leszek Borysiewicz has been chief executive of the MRC since 2007, and was previously deputy rector of Imperial College London.

He is a doctor with a background in immunology, infectious diseases and vaccine development, and was knighted in 2001 for his research into developing vaccines, including one to prevent cervical cancer.

Born and bred in Wales, he studied medicine at the Welsh National School of Medicine and has worked at hospitals in Wales, The Gambia, London and Cambridge.

He was professor of medicine and head of the department of medicine at the University of Wales, Cardiff (now Cardiff University), before joining Imperial in 2001, first as head of the faculty of medicine and then, from 2004, as deputy rector.

Subject to the approval of the Regent House, Cambridge’s governing body, he will succeed the present vice-chancellor, Alison Richard, at the end of her seven-year term on 1 October 2010.

Frank Kelly, master of Christ’s College, Cambridge, who oversaw the search, said: “The university has a history of academic excellence, built upon first-class teaching and research within its distinctive collegiate system, and is in the top flight of research-led universities worldwide.

“In its 800th anniversary year, the university has had much to celebrate from its past achievements and its transforming effect on lives and society, and it looks to the future with confidence and ambition.

“Professor Borysiewicz’s wide experience and outstanding personal qualities equip him superbly to lead Cambridge as a world-leading centre for education and research.”

From 1988 to 1991, Sir Leszek was a lecturer in medicine at Cambridge as a member of Wolfson College, where he is now an honorary fellow.

Sir Leszek was one of the scientists to leap to the defence of the principle of “unfettered advice without the fear of reprisal” after the recent sacking of David Nutt, the Government’s drugs adviser.

Meanwhile, Julie Lydon has been named the new vice-chancellor of the University of Glamorgan, becoming the first woman to hold such a position in Wales.

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