- Closing date
- 27 June 2022 16:00 UK time
- Candidates selected for interview
- Late July or early August 2022
- Start date
- 1 April 2023
The Medical Research Council (MRC), as part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), is a publicly funded organisation, supporting high-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 the MRC discharges its mission. Comprised of independent experts from across the UK and international landscape, the boards oversee the MRC’s scientific portfolio and each board has an annual budget of around £30 40 million to support new research; they also play a key role in the development of MRC’s scientific strategy.
Board chairs are normally appointed for four years, and MRC is currently looking for a new chair for the Infections and Immunity Board to commence their appointment on 1 April 2023.
The role of the Infections and Immunity Board Chair
The Infections and Immunity Board (IIB) aims to develop scientific knowledge that extends our understanding of human infectious disease and the role of the immune system in pathology. This includes, and is underpinned by, fundamental research into human pathogens, as well as the development and functioning of the human immune system and how this informs mechanisms of disease.
Working with other MRC initiatives and partners, the board aims to ensure that the insights it supports are translated into health benefits, and that the UK has the necessary infrastructure, skills and expertise to fulfill its aims.
To deliver against its areas of strategic focus, the board supports the development of investments, partnerships and initiatives and is seeking to develop its portfolio of investigator-led awards through highlighting priority areas as board opportunities.
Current research priorities for the board, alongside efforts to build on the research response to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, cover a continuing focus on antimicrobial resistance, a critical global health challenge, alongside support for global health and research underpinning epidemic preparedness.
The board has also identified opportunities in data integration and systems approaches, seeking to drive novel insights by linking data across different dimensions, and in immunity and infection through the life course. These priority areas are determined on a rolling basis by board members in the context of the national and international landscape.
Key aspects of the role
The role of chair includes the following key aspects:
- ensure effective delivery of MRC scientific strategy through funding decisions, in conjunction with Research Programmes Group (RPG) staff
- working with the board and head office staff, ensure that the MRC strategy relevant to IIB is aligned to the evolving landscape and maximises opportunities for the UK research community
- membership of MRC Strategy Board and MRC Major Investments Board, which are chaired by the Executive Chair and is responsible for developing and refining MRC’s overarching strategy
- provide scientific oversight and direction for MRC units, centres, and initiatives with activities relevant to the IIB portfolio.
Expectations of board chairs are outlined in the MRC Research Board Chair Role guidance.
How to apply to be Infections and Immunity Board Chair
Proposed candidates should be nominated through their host institution or employer outlining how the candidate meets the selection criteria below, confirming institutional support for the nomination and attaching a short CV (maximum of five pages) for the nominee.
The 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 ethnic minority researchers and researchers with disabilities or long-term conditions.
Nominations should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by 4pm, Monday 27 June 2022. Please include ‘Board Chair Recruitment’ in the subject line.
Institutions should nominate two suitable candidates of different genders. Single gender returns from institutions will not be accepted unless clear justification has been provided.
In addition to nominations from employers, the MRC will consult leading experts in the field for proposed candidates.
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.
Individuals’ 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, or have a disproportionately low level of participation.
If this results in an evidenced need, MRC may take appropriate and proportionate interventions, including in final appointment decisions, such as through use of the tie break provision (Section 159 of the Equality Act). 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 for this role will be shortlisted for interview primarily using the criteria listed in the person specification below, also taking into account the balance of the overall Strategy Board membership as per the above.
Candidates selected for interview will be notified in late July or early August. Interviews will be held in early September, and appointments will be ratified at the 4 October 2022 meeting of MRC’s Council.
Who can join
Candidates should have experience of leading a major research portfolio or equivalent, and be proven strategic thinkers. They will have a track record of top quality research in an area of science relevant to the research board’s remit.
Nominations should demonstrate that candidates have the time, commitment and skills to contribute across a range of MRC strategic and governance issues and have active professional networks within the academic community.
Suitable candidates should demonstrate and will be reviewed against the following criteria:
- a broad understanding of medical research
- scientific expertise relevant to the board’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 their time accordingly, other commitments can be aligned with fulfilling the board chair role
- experience of conducting peer review and decision-making with a major funder, such as MRC, Wellcome Trust, 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 their immediate area of expertise
- proven ability to exercise judgment 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 MRC’s mission and broad objectives
- commitment to research culture, with a clear record of contributing to the wider research community.
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 suspicion of conflict.
Board chairs must not misuse information gained in the course of their work for the 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 a major funder (such as Wellcome Trust, Cancer Research UK).
For further information, please visit UKRI conflicts of interests.
Board chairs will 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 prior to the start of their tenure.
Equality, diversity, and inclusion
UKRI holds a Bronze Inclusive Employers accreditation. To see how we support equality, diversity, and inclusion in the workforce please visit MRC workplace inclusion.
All personal data provided to UK Research and Innovation for a Medical Research Council Board Chair vacancy will be processed by UK Research and Innovation in accordance with current UK data protection legislation.
The information you have provided will be retained and used to manage recruitment in accordance with the Medical Research Council’s retention policy.
The appointed individual’s Conflicts of Interest information (including name and institution) will be published on the MRC web pages under the Infections and Immunity Board membership.
Further information on how we use personal data can be found in the UKRI privacy notice.
Last updated: 24 May 2022