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MRC Research Board Chair Vacancy

The Medical Research Council (MRC) is a publicly funded organisation, supporting high-quality research and training across the medical research spectrum, from fundamental lab-based studies to population level research.

Our four research boards are the main means through which the MRC discharges its mission; the boards oversee the MRC’s scientific portfolio and each board has an annual budget of around £30-40m to support new research; they also contribute to the development of MRC’s scientific strategy.

Board chairs are normally appointed for four years and MRC is currently looking for a new chair for the Infections and Immunity Board (IIB) to commence their appointment on 1 April 2018.

Infections & Immunity Board (IIB)

The Infections and Immunity Board (IIB) funds research spanning global infectious diseases to disorders of the immune system. This is underpinned by fundamental research into human pathogens, and the normal development and function of the human immune system.

Across our diverse portfolio, we encourage:

  • discovery research and early stage therapeutic development, including in silico systems, structural biology, animal models and experimental medicine studies in humans
  • population-level research, using mathematical, epidemiological and genetic designs, to elucidate disease risks, aetiologies and progression, and to understand the evolution of pathogen populations
  • research to inform novel strategies for preventing and controlling infectious and immune disease, including research on human behaviour and lifestyle

Nominations for this key role from Higher Education Institutions, research charities and industry, would be welcomed by the deadline of 4pm, 9 June 2017.

Key aspects of the role

  • ensure effective delivery of MRC scientific strategy through funding decisions, in conjunction with Research Programmes Group (RPG) staff
  • membership of MRC Strategy Board, which is chaired by the Chief Executive and is responsible for developing and refining MRC’s overarching strategy
  • provide scientific oversight and direction for MRC institutes, units, centres, and initiatives

Expectations of board chairs are outlined in the MRC Research Board’s Chair Role (PDF, 94KB).


Proposed candidates should be nominated through their host institution or employer outlining how the candidate meets the selection criteria below, confirming institutional support for the nomination and attaching a short CV (maximum of five pages) for the nominee.

Nominations should be sent to scientificevents@headoffice.mrc.ac.uk by 4pm, 9 June 2017. Please include “Board Chair Recruitment” in the subject line.

In addition to nominations from employers, the MRC will consult leading experts in the field for proposed candidates.

Selection criteria

Candidates will be shortlisted for interview primarily using the criteria listed in the person specification. In addition, as board chairs sit on the MRC Strategy Board, the balance of Strategy Board’s expertise and interests will be taken into account in the selection process.

Appointments to the boards are made on merit and with independent assessment, taking account of the need to balance the board in terms of institutional and geographic experience. Applications from women, people with disabilities and members of minority ethnic groups who satisfy the above specifications are welcome.

Candidates selected for interview will be notified in late July 2017.  Interviews will be held in early September and appointments will be ratified at the October meeting of Council.

Person specification

Candidates should have experience of leading a major research activity, or equivalent, and be proven strategic thinkers. They will have a track record of top quality research in an area of science relevant to the research board’s remit.

Nominations should demonstrate that candidates have the time and skills to contribute across a range of MRC strategic and governance issues and have active professional networks within the academic community.

Suitable candidates should demonstrate:

  • a broad understanding of medical research
  • a first class record in conducting internationally leading edge research with success in obtaining major grant funding over a number of years
  • a strong strategic perspective with the ability to tackle issues outside their immediate area of expertise
  • proven ability to exercise judgment across a broad spectrum of policy and research issues
  • experience of conducting peer review with a major funder e.g. MRC, Wellcome Trust, Cancer Research UK
  • excellent communication skills and experience of chairing in a complex area
  • line management experience at a senior level e.g. research group or university department
  • ability to work effectively within the public sector’s requirements for accountability and openness, and within financial constraints
  • commitment to the MRC’s mission and broad objectives
  • ability to commit up to two days per week to MRC business

The MRC values the diverse skills and experience of the members of its boards and panels and is committed to achieving equality of treatment for all.


Chairs are expected to commit two days per week to MRC business. It is essential that individuals should be able to commit the necessary time and attention to the role and have the full support of their employer and organisation in doing so.

Conflicts of interest

The high standards of integrity expected by the public and parliament, and the role requires the board Chairman to avoid situations in which their duties and other interests conflict with board business or where there could be a suspicion of conflict.

Board chairs must not misuse information gained in the course of their work for the MRC for personal gain or for political purpose, nor seek to use the opportunity of public service to promote their private interests, or those of connected organisations, persons, or firms.

Although previous experience with the MRC or another major funder is a requirement, a research board chair cannot be a member of a review panel for a major funder e.g. Wellcome Trust, Cancer Research UK simultaneously.

The Code of Practice for members of Council and MRC boards outlines the MRC policy on declarations of interest.


Board Chairs will receive an annual stipend and their employer will be remunerated in recognition of the time spent on MRC business.  Travel and subsistence expenses (including family care costs) will be reimbursed.

Support and induction for successful candidates

As part of the preparation for their term in office, new chairs will be invited to observe a research board and Strategy Board meeting in advance of their appointment. New chairs will meet with the theme leader and key members of Head Office staff prior to the start of their tenure.