MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit appoints new director

Professor Judy Hirst

The Medical Research Council (MRC) is pleased to announce that Professor Judy Hirst has been appointed as Director of the Medical Research Council Mitochondrial Biology Unit (MRC MBU).

The MRC MBU at the University of Cambridge aims to:

  • understand the fundamental biochemical and biological processes taking place in mitochondria
  • understand the roles and integration of mitochondria within the cell
  • develop new therapies for mitochondrial dysfunction in human diseases.

Professor Hirst commented:

The Mitochondrial Biology Unit is a great place to work! I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to lead the unit and am looking forward to the new challenges of the directorship, and to working with all the staff and students to build on the exciting research going on there.

About Professor Hirst

Professor Hirst is a Fellow of the Royal Society and the Academy of Medical Sciences and she received the 2018 Royal Society of Chemistry Interdisciplinary Prize. The Hirst group carries out research combining structural, biochemical and physical chemical techniques and has pioneered studies of energy conversion in complex redox enzymes.

With a particular focus on mammalian complex I, a crucial mitochondrial enzyme, Professor Hirst’s research aims to build on structural and mechanistic knowledge to understand human complex I dysfunctions in disease.

Joining the MRC MBU in 1999, Professor Hirst was appointed deputy director in 2014 and has been the interim director since April 2019, when Massimo Zeviani stood down. Her appointment as director followed a competitive international search.

Strong leadership

Professor Fiona Watt, Executive Chair of the MRC, said:

I am delighted by Judy Hirst’s appointment as the new Director of the MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit. Judy is a remarkable researcher, and as interim unit director, she has shown strong leadership.

Building on the exemplary work of Professor Massimo Zeviani and following an MRC strategic review of the mitochondrial biology field in 2019, I am excited by the vision for the unit as a national and international hub in mitochondrial biology research and translation.

Professor Patrick Maxwell, Regius Professor of Physic and Head of Clinical Medicine at Cambridge said:

I am absolutely delighted that we have appointed Judy Hirst as director. I am excited by her vision for the future of the unit, and very much look forward to working with her.

This is a thrilling time for mitochondrial biology as problems with mitochondria are increasingly appreciated as contributing to many different diseases, and our understanding of mitochondrial function advances. I envisage that the work of the unit under Judy’s leadership will make major contributions to understanding a wide range of diseases and ultimately contribute to new approaches to treatment.

Top image:  Professor Judy Hirst, Director, MRC MBU, University of Cambridge (credit: MRC MBU)

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