New chief executive for the Medical Research Council

October 3, 2007

The Medical Research Council has announced that Sir Leszec Borysiewicz will be replacing Professor Colin Blakemore as Chief Executive.

Professor Borysiewicz has a background in immunology, infectious diseases and immunisation.


He has also taken an interest in ME/CFS and was a member of the working group from the Royal Colleges of Physicians, Psychiatrists and General Practitioners that produced a controversial report on ME/CFS back in October 1996.

MRC website


Dr Charles Shepherd

Honorary Medical Adviser, The ME Association

From the British Medical Journal, 6 October 2007

Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, who was knighted for his research into developing vaccines, is the new chief executive of the UK Medical Research Council (MRC).

The deputy rector of Imperial College, London, is to take over from the current holder, Colin Blakemore, whose term of office finishes at the end of this month.

He joined Imperial College London in 2001 as principal of the faculty of medicine before becoming deputy rector three years later. His research interests are in viral immunology, infectious diseases, cell mediated immunity, virus associated malignancy, and vaccine development. He was knighted in 2001 for his research into developing vaccines, including one to stop the development of cervical cancer.

He holds a number of appointments in higher education and science and was recently made a governor of the Wellcome Trust. He is also the chairman of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration's integrated academic training committee and chairman of the joint scientific advisory board of the MRC and the UK Stem Cell Foundation. He is a founder fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.

Sir Leszek studied medicine at the Welsh National School of Medicine and took his first consultant's post at Hammersmith Hospital, London. He has had a long association with the MRC. Early in his career he completed an MRC Clinical Training Fellowship, and between 1995 and 2000 he chaired the MRC Molecular and Cellular Medicine Board and served on the MRC Council. He has also been a trustee of Cancer Research UK, and served on numerous committees, including for the MRC, the World Health Organization, the British Council, the UK Clinical Research Collaboration, and the UK Stem Cell Foundation.

The MRC, which has a research budget of about £0.5bn (€0.7bn; $1bn), supports research throughout biomedicine, from fundamental laboratory based science to clinical trials. About 3300 researchers are supported by programmes funded by the MRC in universities and hospitals, and the organisation employs more than 3300 people in the United Kingdom and abroad, in 29 research units and three research institutes.

The latest figures show that the MRC spends more than £224m a year on supporting research and training in universities and teaching hospitals and nearly £238m in its own institutions.

It is the UK's largest non-commercial funder of clinical trials. It pioneered randomised controlled trials and sponsored the world's first controlled, multicentre clinical trial in 1944.


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