Governing Council and the Science and Impact Advisory Board


The Governing Council has the ultimate responsibility for the strategy of the John Innes Centre.

Strategy is developed under advice from the Science and Impact Advisory Board and the John Innes Centre Strategy Committee.

Governing Council

The John Innes Centre’s Governing Council has specific responsibilities under the BBSRC Conditions of Grant.

It is responsible for the management and administration of the John Innes Centre’s income and expenditure, assets and liabilities.

Ultimately, the Governing Council has responsibility for developing the long-term vision for the John Innes Centre alongside the director, and oversees and reviews the management and achievements of the institute.

Sir Thomas Hughes-Hallett (Chair)

Sir Thomas Hughes-Hallett is a prominent figure in healthcare, the charity sector and education, following a varied career which includes law and investment banking. He brings outstanding experience of organisational leadership and he is known for his enthusiasm and commitment to those causes he champions.

Recently retired after seven years as Chair of the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Sir Thomas is Co-founder and Chair of the Marshall Institute for Philanthropy and Social Entrepreneurship at the London School of Economics, founder of the charity Helpforce. He has been Chair of the Institute for Global Health at Imperial College and CEO of Marie Curie.

Dr Celia Caulcott

Dr Celia Caulcott is an experienced research and innovation leader, with extensive experience working in and with the biopharmaceuticals industry, agri-food sector and bioindustry more widely.  She is currently the chair of the board of Trustees of the Quadram Institute Bioscience at Norwich, Vice Chair of the Governing Council of the John Innes Centre and a trustee of the East Malling Trust, where she chairs the Science and Impact Committee.  She is also actively engaged in land management and farming in the Lake District.

Previously Dr Celia Caulcott was Vice-Provost (Enterprise) UCL (University College London) where she was responsible for developing and leading the UCL strategies for innovation and enterprise across all of UCL. This strategy focused on helping the outstanding staff and students of the university to make a difference to society and the world, in particular through embedding a culture of innovation and enterprise across the university. As part of her UCL role she was a non-executive director on UCLB, the highly successful commercialisation business of UCL.

Before this, Celia was the Executive Director, Innovation and Skills at the BBSRC, where she was responsible for developing and delivering BBSRC strategy for innovation, and for building its links with the food and agriculture sectors, amongst others. She worked in and with the biopharmaceuticals industry (including Celltech Ltd, ICI Pharmaceuticals, the Wellcome Foundation and various UK early stage biotechs) and the Wellcome Trust on the Human Genome Project.

Celia has a first-class honours degree in Microbiology from Newcastle University and a PhD in pharmaceutical microbiology from Aston University.

Professor Judith Armitage

Judith (Judy) received her BSc and PhD from UCL and after a Lister Fellowship moved to the Biochemistry Department at University of Oxford, where she has been ever since.

She is a bacterial physiologist with a particular interest in how bacteria move and sense their environment to direct that movement to an optimal environment for growth. She uses a wide range of methods from single molecule tracking of proteins in living cells through to computational modelling and believes strongly in collaboration across disciplines.

Judy has trained over 40 PhD students and over 40 postdocs. She is a member of EMBO, a Member and Governor of the Lister Institute, a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, the European Academy of Microbiology and the Royal Society, where she sits on the Council. She is currently President of the Microbiology Society.

She is married with two children and two grandchildren.

Mr John Innes

John is a Founder and Director of RWC Partners, an international asset management company.

He has had an over 30 year career in asset management, working across asset classes and at some of the most prestigious investment management firms in the UK. Prior to being the founding portfolio manager at RWC in 2000 John was Head of Institutional Business at M&G Investment Management. Before that he was Charities Investment Director at Fleming Investment Management and earlier at Lazard Investors as Head of International Institutions.

John graduated with a BSc in Economics from Bristol University in 1981 and qualified as an ACA at Peat Marwick (KPMG) in 1985. Among other interests John is a Director of The Titsey Estate Company and a Trustee of The Chevening Estate.

Mr Chris Maw

Chris Maw is a qualified Chartered Accountant and is currently a Trustee/Director of various organisation, including The Dartington Hall Trust and The Forum Trust in Norwich, and is a member of Council at Brunel University London. In addition, he engages with a number of commercial organisations as an investor/director.

He is a former partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP where, amongst other roles, he led the Norwich office and East Anglian Assurance Practice and, latterly, he was the senior partner for PwC’s West London operations and led the Private Equity and Private Business Markets teams across the South East.

Chris lives in North Norfolk.

Ms Jennifer Midura Heywood

Jennifer is the Executive Committee member for Strategy and Communications at GKN plc, a UK-based FTSE 100 engineering company that produces Aerospace and Automotive components.

Prior to joining GKN, Jennifer was the Head of Strategy and M&A at AkzoNobel NV, a Netherlands-based Coatings and Chemicals company and the Head of Strategy and Performance for ICI plc, a UK-based Coatings and Chemicals company that was acquired by AkzoNobel in 2008.  Jennifer also previously worked at McKinsey & Company, the international consulting firm, in London and Cleveland.

Jennifer is an American who has a permanent home in Norfolk. She finds working with organisations to help define their future course and priorities a fascinating challenge. She is also deeply committed to employee training and development and, in particular, to working with young women to further develop their careers.

Professor Colin Murrell

Colin Murrell is Professor in Environmental Microbiology in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia and Director of the Earth and Life Systems Alliance on the Norwich Research Park.

His research focuses on the microbiology of climate active gases such as methane and isoprene and regulation of metabolism in bacteria involved in key biogeochemical cycles.

Colin received his BSc in Biochemistry from the University of Southampton and PhD in Microbiology from the University of Warwick. After postdoctoral research at the University of Washington, he returned to the University of Warwick as a Faculty Member where he worked until he moved to the University of East Anglia in 2012.

Professor Nick Talbot

Nick Talbot is Professor of Molecular Genetics and Executive Director of The Sainsbury Laboratory, Norwich Research Park.

Nick’s research is focused on the biology of plant diseases. He uses a range of cell biology, genetics and genomics approaches in his research and, in particular, investigates the biology of plant infection by the rice blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae. He is interested in fungal infection-related development and understanding how fungi are able to invade plant tissue and suppress plant immunity.His work has been continuously supported by BBSRC since 1994.

He was previously Head of the School of Biosciences (2004-10) and Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Impact (2010-18) at The University of Exeter. He also served as Chair of the Board of Directors of Rothamsted Research (2009-14), Chair of the Council of the Sainsbury Laboratory (2009-18), Chair of the GW4 Research Alliance (2015-18) and Chair of the Great West Taskforce which authored and implemented the South West England and South-East Wales Science and Innovation Audit.

Dr Jason Vincent

Jason is Vice President of Tropic Biosciences he is a biotechnologist with more than 20 years of experience in the agtech industry spanning plant biotechnology, crop protection chemistry and new technologies.

In his previous role as Head of Synthetic Biology in Syngenta’s Global R&D organisation he created a portfolio of cross-disciplinary projects and external collaborations delivering innovative and sustainable technologies for agriculture.

Dr Tina Barsby (Observer)

Tina, a plant geneticist well-known for her scientific achievements and significant experience in the agricultural crop sector, is the CEO of NIAB.

Tina has led and managed multifaceted, product driven, research and development programmes in North America and UK/mainland Europe. She has a first degree in agricultural botany from the University of Wales at Bangor, and a PhD from the University of Nottingham. She spent a postdoctoral period at Kansas State University, and worked at Allelix Inc, Ontario, Canada for several years before returning to the UK in 1989. Tina then joined Nickerson UK (now part of the LG Group) where she remained until joining NIAB in 2006.

Dr Jef Grainger (Observer)

Jef is Associate Director of Science Strategy (interim) at BBSRC.

He has experience of strategy setting and delivery across a broad range of BBSRC’s research priority areas. He was closely involved in the early strategy work underpinning BBSRC’s capital investment in the Quadram Institute. He also worked on part-secondment to the Government Office of Science to contribute to development of the joint publication with Defra ‘UK Animal and Plant Health in the UK: building out science capability’, and led on drafting of a ‘vision and high-level research strategy for UK animal and plant health research’, an early partnership action stemming from that work.

Jef gained an honours degree in plant science from the University of Edinburgh and a PhD in plant molecular biology from the University of Cambridge. He undertook a period of postdoctoral research in plant-virus interactions at the John Innes Centre before moving to BBSRC Office in 2004.

Professor Mark Searcey (Observer)

Mark Searcey is Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Science and Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of East Anglia. His research focusses on the design and synthesis of new agents for the treatment of cancer and inflammatory diseases, often using natural products as a starting point.

Following his degree in chemistry (Loughborough), PhD in medicinal chemistry (Herts) and a post-doctoral position in Queen Mary College studying catalytic antibodies, Mark spent five years as a research scientist at St Luke’s Institute for Cancer Research, Dublin, before moving to take a position as Assistant Professor in Chemistry at Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California. He then joined the School of Pharmacy, University of London before moving to UEA in 2006. He was previously Head of the Schools of Pharmacy and Chemistry at UEA.

Science and Impact Advisory Board

The John Innes Centre Governing Council approved the appointment of a Science and Impact Advisory Board.

This board advises the Director and Governing Council on all aspects of the John Innes Centre’s science programme, assessing progress and identifying new opportunities and activities.

Professor Judith Armitage (Chair)

Judith (Judy) received her BSc and PhD from UCL and after a Lister Fellowship moved to the Biochemistry Department at University of Oxford, where she has been ever since.

She is a bacterial physiologist with a particular interest in how bacteria move and sense their environment to direct that movement to an optimal environment for growth. She uses a wide range of methods from single molecule tracking of proteins in living cells through to computational modelling and believes strongly in collaboration across disciplines.

Judy has trained over 40 PhD students and over 40 postdocs. She is a member of EMBO, a Member and Governor of the Lister Institute, a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, the European Academy of Microbiology and the Royal Society, where she sits on the Council. She is married with two children and two grandchildren.

Professor George Coupland

George is a Director of the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne and a Professor of Genetics at the University of Cologne.

His research group studies how plant development is influenced by environmental signals. He uses Arabidopsis thaliana as a model system, and recently developed its relative Arabis alpina as a comparative perennial system. His group has defined mechanisms by which plants detect and flower in response to daylength and how annual and perennial life histories diverge during evolution.

George graduated with an Honours Degree in Microbiology from the University of Glasgow and a PhD in Molecular Biology from Edinburgh University. After carrying out a postdoc at the University of Cologne and the Max Planck Institute in Cologne he was appointed as a Research Group Leader at the John Innes Centre in 1989. He moved to his current position in 2001.

He is a Member of EMBO, a Fellow of the Royal Society, a member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, and a Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences, USA.

Professor Ben Davis

Ben’s group’s research centres on the chemical understanding and exploitation of biomolecular function, with an emphasis on carbohydrates and proteins.

In particular, their interests encompass synthesis and methodology; target biomolecule synthesis; inhibitor/probe/substrate design; biocatalysis; enzyme and biomolecule mechanism; biosynthetic pathway determination; protein engineering; drug delivery; molecular biology; structural biology; cell biology; glycobiology; molecular imaging and in vivo biology.

Professor Sue Hartley OBE

Sue is Vice-President for Research at The University of Sheffield. She has served as a trustee of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, as a board member of Natural England, the UK Government’s statutory adviser for the natural environment in England, and as President of the British Ecological Society.

Her research interests include understanding the interactions between organisms exploiting plants, how those interactions are mediated by plant defences, particularly silicon, and how a better understanding of those processes can improve both the sustainability of agriculture and agri-environmental policy

Dr Viktor Korzun

Viktor is Global Lead Scientific Affairs at KWS SAAT SE & Co. KGaA.

He has more than 25 years’ experience in development molecular breeding and novel breeding technologies in cereal crops, establishment, participation and coordination of national and international projects and strategic evaluation of current and new development in area of plant research and molecular breeding

Professor Jane Langdale

Jane is Professor of Plant Development in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Oxford.

Her research focuses on understanding the genetic mechanisms that underpin how leaves develop and how they evolved. She is currently co-ordinator of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded C4 Rice Project.

Professor Bart Thomma

After studying Plant Pathology at Wageningen University in the Netherland, Bart Thomma received a PhD from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium on immune signalling pathways in Arabidopsis for a thesis describing that, besides salicylic acid, also jasmonate and ethylene play major roles in defence against pathogens.

From 2003 onwards he has established a career at Wageningen University in The Netherlands, starting as postdoc, through assistant and associate professor to become full professor and head of department in 2013. This is where he started to develop his work on the vascular wilt pathogen Verticillium dahliae.

In 2020, Bart Thomma was awarded a Humboldt professorship to become professor of Evolutionary Microbiology at the University of Cologne in Germany and at the “Centre of Excellence on Plant Science” (CEPLAS), where he moved his research group. Bart Thomma received the first RKS Wood Prize, awarded by the British Society for Plant Pathology, and acts as section editor for the journal PLoS Pathogens and as co-editor-in-chief of FEMS Microbiology Reviews.

Professor David Wild

David is part of the Department of Statistics and Zeeman Institute at the University of Warwick.

His research interests are in the field of statistical bioinformatics; in particular in the application of Bayesian statistical machine learning techniques to problems in systems biology, functional genomics and proteomics.