MRC Molecular and Cellular Medicine Board Chair

Closing date
5 July 2024
Number of positions
Length of term
Four years
Time commitment
Up to two days per week
Interview dates
September 2024
Outcomes communicated
November 2024

The Chair of the Medical Research Council (MRC) Molecular and Cellular Medicine Board (MCMB) will:

  • ensure the delivery of MRC’s scientific strategy through funding decisions
  • work with MRC staff to develop MCMB’s strategy and maximise opportunities for the UK research community
  • join MRC’s strategy and major investments boards to contribute to the development of MRC’s overarching strategy
  • provide scientific oversight and direction to MRC’s units and initiatives

Board chairs are normally appointed for four-year terms, and the new chair’s appointment will start on 1 April 2025.

Who we're looking for

We are looking for proven strategic thinkers with experience of leading a major research portfolio or equivalent and a track record of top-quality research in an area of science relevant to the research board’s remit.

Your application should demonstrate that you have the time, commitment, and skills to fulfil the role requirements and contribute across a range of MRC strategic and governance issues.

Essential criteria

You should demonstrate and will be reviewed against the following criteria:

  • a broad understanding of medical research and commitment to MRC’s mission and objectives
  • scientific expertise relevant to MCMB’s remit and active research portfolio at a senior leadership level, with an excellent track record of conducting internationally leading-edge research
  • ability to commit two days per week to MRC business and manage your time accordingly, aligning other commitments as necessary
  • experience of conducting peer review and decision making with a major funder, for example MRC, Wellcome, Cancer Research UK
  • 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 your immediate area of expertise
  • proven ability to exercise judgement across a broad spectrum of policy and research issues
  • excellent communication skills and experience of chairing in a complex area
  • ability to work effectively within the public sector’s requirements for accountability and openness, and within financial constraints
  • commitment to fostering positive research culture

What you'll be doing

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

MRC’s five research boards are a primary means through which MRC delivers on its mission. The boards are made up of independent UK and international experts, who collectively oversee MRC’s scientific portfolio and play a key role in the development of MRC’s scientific strategy. Each board has an annual budget of around £30 to 40 million to support new research.

The Molecular and Cellular Medicine Board (MCMB) is responsible for MRC’s investments, seeking to understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms that underpin complex biological function in human health and disease, and supporting the early translation of knowledge towards new diagnosis and treatment of cancer and haematological disorders.

Working with other MRC and UKRI initiatives and external partners, the board aims to make sure that discoveries are translated into health benefit, and that the necessary infrastructure, skills and expertise are in place to achieve maximal impact for the research it supports.

To deliver its strategy, the board supports investigator-led grants within its area of remit and develops and manages a range of strategic investments and partnerships. MCMB also supports the development of tools and techniques to study and manipulate biological systems relevant to health and disease.

We are particularly interested in promoting research across different modalities and biological scales and understanding the causal links between current and emerging environmental exposure threats and human disease.

Key responsibilities of the board chair

The board chair will:

  • ensure effective delivery of MRC scientific strategy through funding decisions working with MRC head office staff
  • work with the board and head office staff to make sure that the MRC strategy relevant to MCMB is aligned to the evolving landscape and maximises opportunities for the UK research community
  • be a member of the MRC Strategy Board and MRC Major Investments Board, which are chaired by the Executive Chair and responsible for developing and refining MRC’s overarching strategy
  • provide scientific oversight and direction for MRC units and initiatives with activities relevant to the MCMB portfolio

Expectations of board chairs are outlined in the MRC Research Board’s Chair Role.


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

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

Board chairs must not misuse information gained in the course of their work for 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 simultaneously be a member of a review panel for another major funder (such as Wellcome or Cancer Research UK).

For further information on conflicts of interest, visit the UKRI conflicts of interest page.


Board chairs 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 before the start of their tenure.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

UKRI holds a Bronze Inclusive Employers accreditation. Find more information about how we support equality, diversity and inclusion in the workforce.

Read more about UKRI’s principles for promoting equality, diversity and inclusion.

How to apply

Candidates may be nominated through:

  • their host institution or employer
  • self-nomination

Institutions or employers can nominate up to two suitable candidates. Where two nominations are submitted, these must include individuals of different genders, and diversity more broadly is strongly encouraged. Single gender returns from institutions will not be accepted unless clear justification has been provided.

For self-nominations, confirmation of institutional support can either be provided at the time of submission or once a candidate has been shortlisted to allow further time to discuss the opportunity with their institution or employer.

Nomination letters should outline how the candidate meets the essential criteria and should be accompanied by a short CV, maximum of five pages.

MRC values the diverse skills and experience of the members of its boards and panels and is committed to advancing equality, diversity and inclusion for all. We particularly welcome nominations from currently under-represented groups including female and minority ethnic researchers and researchers with disabilities or long-term conditions.

UKRI is a Disability Confident Employer, and we endeavour to support you to fully participate throughout the recruitment process and if you are successful. Email if you would like to discuss any reasonable adjustments.

Nominations should be sent to by 4pm on 5 July 2024. Include ’Board Chair Recruitment’ in the subject line.

In addition to nominations from institutions or employers and self-nominations, MRC will consult leading experts in the field for suitable candidates and may contact them to encourage nominations.

How we'll assess your application

Appointments to all MRC’s 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. Protected characteristics may also be considered where nominees who share a protected characteristic:

  • suffer a disadvantage linked to that characteristic
  • have different needs to other groups
  • have a disproportionately low level of participation

If this results in an evidenced need then MRC may take appropriate and proportionate interventions, including in final appointment decisions. This is in accordance with our duty to advance equality of opportunity between those who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.

Candidates will be shortlisted for interview primarily using the essential criteria listed, also considering the balance of the overall Strategy Board membership.

Candidates selected for interview will be notified in late July 2024.  Interviews will be held in early September 2024, and candidates will be informed of the decision by the end of November 2024.

Further information

Privacy notice

All personal data provided to UKRI for the MRC Board Chair vacancy will be processed by UKRI in accordance with current UK data protection legislation.

The information you have provided will be retained and used to manage recruitment in accordance with MRC’s retention policy.

The appointed individual’s conflicts of interest information, including name and institution, will be published on the MRC website under the MCMB membership.

Further information on how we use personal data can be found in the UK Research and Innovation privacy notice.

Last updated: 13 June 2024

This is the website for UKRI: our seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Let us know if you have feedback or would like to help improve our online products and services.