We are pleased to announce that the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) has appointed Professor Melanie Welham as their new Director of Science from 1 October 2012. She will join BBSRC on secondment.
Professor Welham currently works in our Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology as Professor of Molecular Signalling. Until September 2011, she was co-director of our Centre for Regenerative Medicine, overseeing the activities of the interdisciplinary centre which unites work programmes across university departments.
Earlier in her career, Professor Welham was awarded a BBSRC Research Development Fellowship which enabled her to develop and pursue new research directions. She moved from the study of signalling in white blood cells to seeking to understand the fundamental mechanisms controlling the behaviour of embryonic stem cells.
For more than four years Professor Welham has served on BBSRC peer review committees, including periods as either chair or co-chair and, therefore, has a well-developed understanding of the requirements and demands of delivering BBSRC research and the interface between the Council and the research community.
She also served on the advisory committee for the UK National Stem Cell Network from 2009-11.
Professor Douglas Kell, BBSRC Chief Executive, said: “We are very pleased to have attracted a candidate of Professor Welham’s calibre. She is a strong research leader and is well respected in her field.
“As Director of Science, Professor Welham will be central to working with the research community, our systems and our partners to deliver our strategy to support UK bioscience.
“BBSRC-funded scientists have a track record of delivering research with social and economic impact; Professor Welham will help to maintain this and to drive forward our initiatives to ensure UK bioscience support efforts to find solutions to grand challenges in food security, renewable energy and the ageing population.”
Professor Welham said: “As a current active researcher and as a chair of a peer review committee, I understand the pressures on both the scientist and the funder.
“UK bioscience is world-leading and is a national asset that we can shout about. BBSRC, as the main funder, and the research community can work together to deliver the best quality research that generates the greatest impact for society and the economy.
“I am looking forward to joining the Council in the autumn. I feel I can help BBSRC and the research community in delivering the Council’s strategic vision of the ‘Age of Bioscience’ and to make the best possible case for the role of UK bioscience at the centre of a national bioeconomy in the future.
“This demands strong and effective relationships with key stakeholders within and outside the bioscience research community. I see fostering these links as an important early task on joining BBSRC.”
The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell, said: “This appointment is significant recognition of Professor Welham’s research, vision and leadership. We wish her well.”
Professor Welham received her first degree in Biochemistry from Imperial College London before gaining her PhD from the University of London for research at the then Imperial Cancer Research Fund. She pursued post-doctoral research opportunities at the University of British Columbia, Canada, before returning to the UK in 1995 to take up a Lecturer position at the University of Bath.