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BBSRC announces appointment of new Director of Science

11 July 2012

BBSRC has announced the appointment of Professor Melanie Welham as Director of Science. Prof Welham, currently Professor of Molecular Signalling at the University of Bath, will take up the role on 1 October 2012.

Prof Welham is a leading researcher in molecular signalling and stem cell science. Until September 2011, she was co-director of the Bath Centre for Regenerative Medicine where she oversaw the activities of this interdisciplinary centre which unites work programmes across university departments.

Professor Melanie Welham

Professor Melanie Welham

Earlier in her career, Prof 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.

Prof Welham has a well-developed understanding of the requirements and demands of delivering BBSRC research and the interface between the Council and the research community. For more than four years she has served on BBSRC peer review committees, including periods as either chair or co-chair. Prof Welham also served on the advisory committee for the UK National Stem Cell Network from 2009-11.

Prof Douglas Kell, BBSRC Chief Executive, said: "We are very pleased to have attracted a candidate of Prof Welham's calibre. She is a strong research leader and is well respected in her field. As Director of Science, Prof 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. Prof 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."

Prof 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."

Prof Welham achieved 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 a Lecturer position at the University of Bath.

ENDS

Notes to editors

Photos of Prof Welham are available on request from BBSRC External Relations (see contacts below).

Melanie Welham was born in a farming community in rural Suffolk in 1964. She now lives in Wiltshire and is married with two teenaged daughters.

The Director of Science position is a redefined role within BBSRC. The previous Director of Research was Prof Janet Allen who resigned from the Council in November 2011. Prof Welham will join BBSRC on secondment from the University of Bath.

About BBSRC

BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Funded by Government, and with an annual budget of around £445M (2011-2012), we support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

For more information about BBSRC, our science and our impact see: www.bbsrc.ac.uk.
For more information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes see: www.bbsrc.ac.uk/institutes.