Preferred candidate for Executive Chair of Research England named

Professor Dame Jessica Corner

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has selected Professor Dame Jessica Corner as the preferred candidate for Executive Chair of Research England.

Professor Corner is a professor of cancer and supportive care. She has more than 35 years’ experience in higher education and is currently Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange at the University of Nottingham. Here, she provides strategic leadership for research, knowledge exchange and industry engagement.

During her tenure at Nottingham, Professor Corner led the university’s transformational research strategy, delivering improvement across all measures in the recent Research Excellence Framework 2021 exercise.

She significantly increased participation in research among women and colleagues from minority ethnic backgrounds.

Leading Research England

Professor Corner will be responsible for leading Research England in its critical role in providing more than £2 billion annually in grant funding to English universities for research.

She will also support knowledge exchange activity and oversee other major funding programmes, as well as the sustainability of the higher education research base in England.

Professor Corner gained her PhD in 1990 from Kings College London.

She was Director of the Centre of Cancer and Palliative Care Studies and Deputy Dean (Nursing) at the Institute of Cancer Research at the Royal Marsden Hospital for 12 years. She was the first nurse to be appointed to a chair at the institute.

She was awarded a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2014 for services to health care research and education.

In 2015 she was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.

Building the UK’s reputation

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, said:

I am delighted to name Professor Jessica Corner as preferred candidate to steward Research England through the years to come.

I look forward to working closely with her and the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) leadership team to ensure the continued success of the world-leading research carried out by our universities, building on the UK’s reputation as a science superpower.

I would also like to thank Dr David Sweeney for his tireless work for the research sector as inaugural Executive Chair of Research England and previously at the Higher Education Funding Council for England. I wish him the very best for his retirement.

A wealth of experience

UKRI Chief Executive Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, said:

Professor Dame Jessica Corner’s experience and expertise will be a huge asset to both Research England and UK Research and Innovation.

She brings a wealth of experience from her leadership of research and knowledge exchange at the University of Nottingham, her distinguished research career and her many wider roles across the sector.

Supporting our national research community

Professor Dame Jessica Corner, said:

I am delighted to be chosen as the preferred candidate for the role of Executive Chair of Research England at this time of huge opportunity for the country’s truly outstanding research base.

I know I will be building on the immense contribution made by David Sweeney to UKRI, Research England and our research ecosystem over his extensive career.

I look forward to supporting our national community of researchers as they continue to explore, discover, and innovate to transform lives across the globe.

Executive Chair of Research England

The post of Executive Chair of Research England is subject to a pre-appointment hearing by the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee.

The Committee has decided to hold a hearing which will take place on 20 July 2022. Further details will be available on the Select Committee website.

Professor Corner is expected to take up the role in October 2022.

She succeeds David Sweeney CBE, who has led Research England as its first Executive Chair since 2018, when it was created through the Higher Education and Research Act 2017, and who is due to retire.

Top image:  Professor Dame Jessica Corner, credit: University of Nottingham

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