Crick Director of Research to become the Wellcome Trust’s new Director of Science

12 August 2016

Dr Jim Smith, Director of Research and group leader at the Francis Crick Institute, is to become the new Director of Science at the Wellcome Trust, one of the Crick's founding partners. He will step down as Crick Director of Research towards the end of 2016 to take up the new role, but will continue to be a Crick group leader.

Jim became Director of the MRC National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), one of the Crick's parent institutes, in 2009. When the NIMR came together with the London Research Institute (LRI) on 1 April 2015 to form the Crick, he became a Crick Research Director. In parallel, he has served as Deputy CEO and Chief of Strategy at the Medical Research Council. He will leave both roles in order to take up the Director of Science post full time for the Wellcome Trust.

As Director of Science at Wellcome, he will lead the Science Division and science funding portfolio on the Executive Board.

Jim is one of the pioneers of modern developmental biology. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and of the Academy of Medical Sciences and was awarded the EMBO Medal in 1993 and the Waddington Medal in 2013. He became a group leader at the NIMR in 1984. He moved to become Director of the Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute in Cambridge in 2000, before returning to the NIMR in 2009.

Jim's research interests are inductive interactions in vertebrate development and applying the principles of developmental biology to stem cell differentiation, and his research group will remain at the Crick.

Paul Nurse, Director of the Francis Crick Institute, said: 'Jim has been instrumental both in helping form the vision for the Francis Crick Institute and in turning that vision into a reality. We are hugely grateful for all he has done over the last seven years, and glad that he remains as a Crick group leader. We are also delighted that in his new role he stays within the "greater Crick" as part of the Wellcome Trust, one of our founding partners.

'Jim will be missed enormously in his role as Research Director, but we look forward to working with him in his new capacity. I congratulate the Wellcome Trust on appointing someone of distinction, intelligence, warmth and energy.'

Jim Smith said: 'Helping to create the Francis Crick Institute has been a unique privilege. The Crick will play a major national and international role in preventing, diagnosing and treating human disease, and I look forward to continuing to play a part in it. Before I start with the Wellcome Trust I will have the pleasure of moving my research group into our stunning new Crick Laboratory at St Pancras, which is the realisation of a long-held vision and of many years' work by my superb colleagues.

'The Wellcome Trust makes an enormous contribution to scientific discovery, and I have long admired the scale of its ambition and its willingness to take risks. As someone who has benefited personally from Wellcome support, I know from experience how important its generosity, flexibility and vision are to basic science and to individual researchers and their teams.

'I am looking forward to the opportunity to shape Wellcome's continuing contribution to biomedical science. I am also delighted to retain a link with my friends and colleagues at the Francis Crick Institute, and to be able to watch at first hand as the Crick goes from strength to strength.'

Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, said: 'Jim is a scientific leader of global stature, who combines an extremely distinguished record of discovery in developmental biology with great experience and achievement at the head of several of the UK's top scientific institutions.

'The biomedical science in which Jim excels is fundamental to Wellcome's mission of improving health by helping great ideas to thrive, and our support for it has never been more extensive. I am delighted that we will have the benefit of Jim's vision and understanding to lead this work as our Director of Science.'

  • Dr Jim Smith, Director of Research and group leader at the Francis Crick Institute, is to become the new Director of Science at the Wellcome Trust, one of the Crick's founding partners.