About us

Chief Executive & Management Board

The day-to-day management of the MRC is overseen by our Management Board, a decision-making body and discussion forum chaired by the Chief Executive.

The terms of reference for the board are to manage operations where policy and decisions have major importance for the delivery of our objectives and/or for our key stakeholder relationships.

The main areas of responsibility are to:

  • Monitor our performance and delivery and to determine control strategies to mitigate risk
  • Take policy/operational decisions or make recommendations to the Council where authority rests with the latter
  • Exchange, generate and develop ideas and provide advice as appropriate

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Chief Executive

Sir John Savill

Sir John Savill

Professor Sir John Savill BA, MBChB, PhD, FRCP, FRCPE, FASN, FMedSci, FRS, FRSE, a clinician scientist from Edinburgh, took up the position as chief executive and deputy chair on 1 October 2010. The appointment was initially for three years; after which it was extended until April 2016, and subsequently to 30 September 2018. He was a member of the Council from 2002 to 2008 and chaired two Research Boards during this period.

Between 2008 and 2010 John worked part-time as the chief scientist for the Scottish Government Health Directorates.

He was knighted in the 2008 New Year Honours List for services to clinical science.

John started his research career with a degree in Physiological Sciences from Oxford University in 1978, followed by degrees in Medicine at the University of Sheffield in 1981. He received a PhD from the University of London in 1989.

After junior hospital appointments in Sheffield, Nottingham and London, he spent seven years in the Department of Medicine at Hammersmith Hospital with spells as an MRC clinical training fellow and Wellcome Trust senior clinical research fellow.

In 1993, he moved to the chair of medicine, at the University of Nottingham, then in 1998 became professor of medicine at the University of Edinburgh, where he was the first director of the University of Edinburgh/MRC Centre for Inflammation Research, directing a group interested in the molecular cell biology of renal inflammation.

In 2002, John was appointed as the first vice-principal and head of the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, University of Edinburgh. He retains an ongoing, research active involvement with the University of Edinburgh part time throughout his appointment as our chief executive.

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Deputy Chief Executive

David Lomas

  • Working closely with the CEO to ensure that the MRC plays a full and constructive part in Research Landscape Reform and the creation of United Kingdom Research and Innovation.
  • Leading for MRC on various strategic and policy issues as agreed with the CEO.
  • Representing the MRC, by agreement with the CEO, at a wide range of events and meetings involving external stakeholders.
  • Serving as a member of MRC Management Board and from time to time, deputising for the CEO in his role as Chair of the Management Board.

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Chief Science Officer

Robin Buckle

  • To shape and develop MRC’s head office scientific operations, Boards, Committees etc  to maintain excellence and to respond to the changing needs and integration into UKRI
  • To personally provide leadership for major science implementation programmes in select areas, by agreement with the CEO
  • To ensure MRC’s external networks and internal communications provide up-to-date insight. Through effective contributions to strategy; evaluation; at Board level and across MRC 
  • Responsibility for MRC’s family of Units, Centres, and Institutes, ensuring that they make exceptional contributions to MRC’s research. Optimising communications, funding, review and governance arrangements, to ensure continuous evolution
  • Act as an ambassador for MRC, developing networks and inter-organisational relationships and providing a public voice for MRC on science funding, quality, etc, both nationally and internationally

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Director of Innovation 

Chris Watkins

  • Driving forward MRC’s translational research activities
  • Overseeing MRC’s engagement with industry across our research portfolio
  • Ensuring effective knowledge exchange of MRC science
  • Working with our partners on the Industrial Strategy and the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund

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Director of External Affairs

Sharmila Nebhrajani

Sharmila Nebhrajani

  • Provides leadership in enabling the MRC to engage with key stakeholders, in particular Parliamentarians and Government, on the importance and impact of the MRC’s work and achievements.
  • Works closely with other medical research funders and academies, and with industry partners to build and identify strategically important partnerships which support and build advocacy of the MRC.
  • Provides expert advice to the MRC’s senior managers on topical research and policy matters; driving and inspiring an organisation-wide, innovative approach to building relationships with stakeholders.
  • Works closely with Research Councils and MRC’s management team to ensure a smooth transition during the migration of MRC into UKRI, maintaining relationships with key stakeholders to ensure MRC’s continued visibility and recognition of impact. 

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Chief of Strategy

Declan Mulkeen

Declan Mulkeen

  • Develops and communicates our research strategy and its impact.
  • Is our main interface with the scientific community and with the Health Departments and the NHS.
  • Manages research strategy development and processes for stimulating research proposals in priority areas.
  • Delivers the research strategy including managing demand, assessing proposals, making and managing awards.
  • Manages the investment in research training and career development for scientists.
  • Takes a lead in developing ethics and research governance.
  • Provides scientific intelligence and advice – both to external stakeholders and within the MRC.

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Corporate Affairs Director

Tony Peatfield

Tony Peatfield

  • Plans and delivers a programme of communication and public affairs activities to foster dialogue with the public and other stakeholder groups, show the link between medical research and health, and facilitates our scientists’ public engagement work.
  • Leads the development of corporate governance.
  • Provides a focus for national policy development, including legislation, research ethics, and associated networking with and influencing of key external stakeholders.

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Chief Operating and Finance Officer

Hugh Dunlop

Hugh Dunlop

  • Responsible for managing financial risk.
  • Responsible for the delivery of operational corporate functions, including acting as Chair for the Operations Board.
  • Ensures that our research programmes are provided with adequate operational support.
  • Responsible for financial strategy and planning; for monitoring, controlling and accounting for expenditure and resources.
  • Provides information and advice to assist corporate decision-making.

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Major Projects Director

Sandy Bulger

Sandy Bulger

  • Responsible for delivery of major projects for the MRC and for project management standards.
  • Ensures that MRC investment in major capital programmes is managed effectively.
  • Leads the MRC contribution to the delivery of the Francis Crick Institute and other capital projects.
  • Responsible for ensuring the MRC Estate is well-managed and reflects research requirements.

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