In tribute to Sir David Cooksey, 1940-2024

We are sorry to announce that Sir David Cooksey, Chairman of the Francis Crick Institute from 2009–2017, has passed away at the age of 83. 

Sir David Cooksey

Sir David Cooksey

David was a driving force, working with the Crick from its early conception through to the official opening in November 2016 and beyond. The Crick’s flagship translation prize was named after David, and has been running since 2017. The prize highlights the contributions of scientists at the Crick who are driving innovation, improving healthcare, and inspiring a new generation of translational researchers. Previous winners include the Crick’s electron microscopy team, Emma Wall, Senior Clinical Research Fellow at the Crick and UCLH and, most recently, postdoc Anaid Benitez

David began his career as an industrial engineer, and formed one of the first venture capital firms in the UK. He was appointed as Governor of the Wellcome Trust from 1995–1999, and persuaded his fellow governors to work alongside Government to offer University Challenge Seed Funds. This was followed by the Joint Infrastructure Fund (JIF), a major initiative to improve universities’ scientific research infrastructure.

In 2003, he chaired the Biosciences Innovation & Growth Taskforce. Their report triggered the formation of the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), to secure well-funded clinical research in the NHS and universities. In 2006, he led the Cooksey Review of Medical Research Funding, which challenged accepted translation pathways, secured substantial additional medical research funding and led to the formation of the Crick. 

David played such a key role in the establishment of the Crick. As well as being an important part of the Crick’s early days, he was, of course, also a key figure in UK life sciences more generally and will be sorely missed.
Paul Nurse

David was also a director of the Bank of England from 1994–2005, including a period as Chairman of Directors. For almost ten years, he was chairman of the Audit Commission, and was appointed as chairman of the Local Government Commission for England in 1996. 

His achievements were also recognised by royalty. He was knighted in 1993 and appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2007 for public service. He received Honorary Degrees from University College London, University of Southampton and Kingston University and he has Honorary Fellowships at The Academy of Medical Sciences, University of Wales, Cardiff University, Imperial College London, King's College London and the British Science Association. He was also elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 2020. 

David is survived by his wife Mary Ann, and his two children. 

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