Sir Mark Walport, director of Wellcome Trust, appointed to take over as UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser

Sir Mark Walport, who has been director of the Wellcome Trust since 2003, has today been appointed to succeed Sir John Beddington as the UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser. He will take up his new post in April 2013 and will step down as director early next year.

Sir Mark said: "I am delighted and honoured to be appointed as the Government Chief Scientific Advisor. Science, engineering and technology have transformed the infrastructure of the modern world, and have a vital role to play at the heart of policy making.

"They are critical both to economic recovery and growth, and to addressing many of the greatest challenges of our time, such as environmental change and the ageing population. I look forward to working with colleagues both inside and outside Government to ensure that the best possible advice can be provided from the most expert sources, based on the strongest evidence, to facilitate the wisest possible policy decisions.

"It has been an enormous privilege to have led the Wellcome Trust since 2003 and to contribute to its vision of achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. We do that by supporting the brightest minds in the biomedical sciences and the medical humanities, and the researchers we fund are advancing our understanding of the complexity of the human genome and the human brain, infectious diseases such as malaria and MRSA, and chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer.

"Every aspect of the Wellcome Trust's activity - including our public engagement and policy work, as well as the science we support - will be relevant to the exciting challenges of my new position. I cannot think of a better way to have prepared for the job."

The Wellcome Trust's achievements under Sir Mark's leadership have included a swathe of discoveries brought forth by the sequencing of the human genome, which have already begun to allow genomic insights to improve the care of patients with conditions such as diabetes, cancer and rare inherited disease.

Since 2006, the Trust has committed the scientists it funds to publishing their work in journals that offer open access, so that anybody can read and use the research we support without paying for it. In 2007, the Trust opened Wellcome Collection, a free London destination for the incurably curious, which explores the connections between medicine, life and art in the present, past and future.

Sir Bill Castell, chairman of the Wellcome Trust, will lead the Board of Governors in the recruitment of a new director.

He said: "It is with great pleasure that I congratulate Sir Mark Walport on his appointment as the next Government Chief Scientific Adviser. Mark has led the Wellcome Trust with great distinction over a decade of extraordinary achievement, and there is nobody in Britain better placed to ensure that science plays the central role it deserves to in public policy. British science will be stronger for his appointment.

"Mark will be a tough act to follow, but I am confident we will recruit an outstanding successor who shares both the Wellcome Trust's vision and Mark Walport's commitment to realising it."

Notes for editors

About Sir Mark Walport

Mark Walport is Director of the Wellcome Trust, which is a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in health by supporting the brightest minds. Before joining the Trust he was Professor of Medicine and Head of the Division of Medicine at Imperial College London.

He has been a member of the Prime Minister's Council for Science and Technology since 2004. He is also a member of the India UK CEO Forum, the UK India Round Table and the advisory board of Infrastructure UK and a non-executive member of the Office for Strategic Coordination of Health Research. He is a member of a number of international advisory bodies.

He has undertaken independent reviews for the UK Government on the use and sharing of personal information in the public and private sectors: 'Data Sharing Review' (2009) and secondary education, 'Science and Mathematics: Secondary education for the 21st century' (2010). He is co-chairing one of the Prime Minister's 'Champion Groups' on dementia, looking at research.

He received a knighthood in the 2009 New Year Honours List for services to medical research and was elected as Fellow of The Royal Society in 2011.

About the Wellcome Trust

The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. It supports the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. The Trust's breadth of support includes public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health. It is independent of both political and commercial interests.