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. 

Governing Council members

Will West (Chair)

Will is Chairman and CEO of CellCentric Ltd, a biotechnology company founded on epigenetic research, with a pioneering drug for the treatment of late stage prostate cancer. He is also President & CEO of Cancer Targeting Systems (CTS) Inc., a gene-product oncology business spun out from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Will studied Microbiology then Immunology/Virology, gaining his PhD in 1991, sponsored by Unilever (UniPath). He held a post-doctoral position at the National Institute of Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC). He went on to Procter & Gamble Healthcare, where he was responsible for clinical development in a number of therapeutic areas, including respiratory and GI. He led research and clinical programmes throughout Europe, the Americas, South Africa and China.

In 2011 he was appointed by the Science Minister to the Council of the BBSRC, where he had responsibility for links to the John Innes Centre.  He chaired the cross-functional working party that led to the approval for The Quadram Institute (the successor to the Institute of Food Research). 

In 2012 Will was elected to the Board of the BioIndustry Association and sits on the Executive Committee. He is active in mentoring and supporting translational research, and has been involved in OneStart, Pulse, Innovator of the Year, the Activating Impact Awards as well as Angels in MedCity.  He holds a Masters degree in Clinical Research as well as an MBA from London Business School. 

Ottoline Leyser

Ottoline Leyser is Professor of Plant Development and Director of the Sainsbury Laboratory at the University of Cambridge.

Her research uses the control of shoot branching in Arabidopsis as a model system to understand plant developmental plasticity and particularly the role of plant hormones in integrating endogenous and environmental inputs into development.

Ottoline received her BA (1986) and PhD (1990) in Genetics from the University of Cambridge. After post-doctoral research at Indiana University, she returned to the UK and took up a lectureship at the University of York (1994), where she worked until moving to the new Sainsbury Laboratory in 2011.

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.

Keith Norman

Keith Norman Keith Norman graduated from the University of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in 1981 with an Honours degree in agriculture, specialising in crop production.

Since graduation, he followed a career in practical farm management for six years, then changed to a more technically based role supporting Velcourt's team of Farm Managers in crop production technology and managing Velcourt’s in-house trials activity in 1989.

Keith manages the Research and Development project portfolio comprising of manufacturer trials and publicly funded collaborative projects. Keith has experience in crop production in many European countries as well as Africa. 

Deborah Keith

Dr Deborah Keith Deborah Keith has over 30 years of experience in the science and technology sector, most recently in corporate Research and Development with Syngenta, a global agri-business.

Following an early career in academic research in plant genetics, and in international development in Bhutan, she has spent the past 16 years focused on the commercialization of Research and Development innovation. In her most recent role at Syngenta as Head of External Collaborations, she headed global teams to build strategic partnerships with academia and commercial enterprises, and previously headed Syngenta’s Crop Protection research portfolio to deliver global products to development.

Experienced in the innovation process, corporate culture and organisational change she has led corporate teams in the development of global Research and Development strategies. Deborah is a Non-Executive Director of the Aerospace Technology Institute and the James Hutton Institute. 

Robert Maskell

Robert Maskell Robert Maskell is responsible for Intel's High Performance Computing business in the UK.

Passionate about Life Sciences, Robert works with academia, industry and government to drive growth and competitive advantage for the country.

Biology has become a data driven science fundamentally dependent upon compute and Robert sees technical computing as an enabler to empower positive societal change.

Jennifer Midura

Jennifer Midura 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.

John Innes

John Innes 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.

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.

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.

Dylan Edwards (Observer)

Dylan Edwards is Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of East Anglia, and molecular biologist principally interested in the functions of the human ‘degradome’.

His research focuses on cancer, the study of proteases to identify novel diagnostic markers, therapeutic targets, and to identify the cellular and molecular mechanisms of extracellular proteases.

Dylan received his BA (1975) in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge and PhD (1980) in Biochemistry from the University of London. After post-doctoral research at Oxford University, he worked as Assistant and Associate Professor at the University of Calgary, Canada, before joining the University of East Anglia in 1998.

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