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New Chief Executive for BBSRC

7 July 2008

The Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills has today announced the appointment of Professor Douglas Kell as the next Chief Executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

Professor Douglas Kell

Professor Douglas Kell

Prof Kell is a leading figure in the field of systems biology, the multidisciplinary approach to tackling complex biological problems using theory, computer modelling and experimentation. It is revolutionising how bioscientists think and work and will make the outputs of their work both more useful, and easier to use, in industry and policymaking. Prof Kell was an early pioneer in the development of systems to generate and handle the huge amounts of data that followed the emergence of the ‘omic’ sciences – such as genomics, proteomics and metabolomics. His work has enabled researchers to harness the power of these approaches by giving them the tools to interpret and analyse the data generated by modern biology.

Prof Kell is currently Professor of Bioanalytical Science at the University of Manchester and Director of the BBSRC-funded Manchester Centre for Integrative Systems Biology. He will maintain his scientific links by continuing to work one day a week at the Manchester Interdisciplinary Biocentre.

Dr Peter Ringrose, Chairman of BBSRC, said: “I am very pleased to welcome the appointment of Professor Doug Kell as the next Chief Executive and Deputy Chair of BBSRC. Prof Kell has a long association with BBSRC and BBSRC science. He has not only been a pioneer in his own field of work but has served the research community for a number of years through membership of multiple BBSRC bodies. As chair of a review of BBSRC’s research in bioenergy, he demonstrated a willingness to take on the challenges facing both bioscience and society as a whole.

“UK bioscience is amongst the strongest in the world. Our challenge in the future is to continue to make an impact internationally while maximising the social and economic impact of our research. Prof Kell is ideally placed to lead BBSRC and the bioscience community with a world-class track record in multidisciplinary research and a strong history of working to commercialise his science.”

Prof Kell will take up his post on 1 October 2008 and the appointment is for four years. Prof Kell succeeds Prof Julia Goodfellow, who left BBSRC in September 2007 to take up the role of Vice-Chancellor at the University of Kent. Steve Visscher has been serving as Interim Chief Executive and will continue to do so until October.

Dr Ringrose said: “I would like to take this opportunity to record my thanks to Steve Visscher for his excellent leadership over the last year. He has led BBSRC through a period of great change. He has helped us secure a good Spending Review allocation and to put in place structures at our institutes and office that will mean BBSRC can continue to deliver the highest quality of research.”


Notes to editors

Professor Douglas Kell’s appointment has been announced by the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills.

Prof Kell has been appointed following open competition.

Before taking up the post of BBSRC Chief Executive Douglas Kell was the Director of the Manchester Centre for Integrative Systems Biology ( based in the Manchester Interdisciplinary Biocentre (MIB) ( His research ( covers a broad range of topics from analytical chemistry to systems biology, usually coupled to biochemical and data modelling. He will continue to work at the MIB for one day a week. He was, from 1997 until 2002, Director of Research of the Institute of Biological Sciences at the University of Aberystwyth.  He held a personal Chair with the University of Aberystwyth for 10 years until 2002. He is a Director of Aber Instruments, which won the Queen’s Award for Export Achievement in 1998.

Prof Kell was a member of BBSRC Council 2001-2006, member of Strategy Board 2005-2006, member of the Bioscience for Industry Strategy Panel 2007-present and chaired the review of BBSRC's Bioenergy research in 2006.

Prof Kell was born in London in 1953. He is married with three children. Prof Kell studied at the University of Oxford and then conducted research at Aberystwyth University. He joined UMIST in 2002, which merged with the Victoria University of Manchester to form The University of Manchester in 2004.


The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £420M in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life for UK citizens and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors.


Matt Goode, Head of External Relations

tel: 01793 413299