The Genomics England Board

The Genomics England Board oversees all of our activities, ratifies all major decisions and sets the overall strategy for the organisation. Genomics England has several independent advisory committees that report to the board. These include the Ethics Advisory Committee, Science Advisory Committee, Data Advisory Committee, Access Review Committee, GeCIP Board and the Audit Committee.

Nicola became Chair of Genomics England in May 2020. She is a member of the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee, and is also an Honorary Professor of Science and Public Policy at UCL. She served as the Minister for Innovation in the Department for Health and Social Care under two Prime Ministers, where her responsibilities included research, life sciences and NHS innovation; medicines pricing and regulation; data, digital and technology, including cyber security; international health diplomacy and global health security; and rare diseases.

Nicola was born in Johannesburg in 1979 to a South African nurse and an English cardiologist who were working at Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto. On their return to the UK, her parents worked for nearly 30 years in the NHS giving her first-hand knowledge of some of the challenges facing the health service.

She was first elected as an MP for Oxford West and Abingdon in 2010 and chaired the Science & Technology Select Committee, before becoming a Minister. She became Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford in 2019. Since leaving the Commons she has been Chair of the Human Tissue Authority, a Board Member of Oxford University Innovations’ Advisory Board, and held a number of other public and private board positions.

Prior to joining Genomics England, Chris was COO at QuantumBlack, a bespoke machine learning and AI technology company, and a Partner at McKinsey working on technology strategy topics.

He also previously worked for the UK Foreign Office (Counter Terrorism Policy Department), and at the BBC. He has held board roles at the New Entrepreneurs Foundation, Entrepreneur First and Magic Breakfast.

Sir Mark graduated in Medicine in 1984 from the London Hospital Medical College and trained in Clinical Pharmacology at St Bartholomew’s Hospital (Barts) where he developed a research programme in molecular genetics of hypertension and clinical research. In 2009 he won the Lily Prize of the British Pharmacology Society. He is a Fellow of The Royal College of Physicians.

In 2000 Sir Mark successfully bid for £3.1m to create the Barts and The London Genome Centre at the Queen Mary University of London. Since 2008 he has directed the Barts National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit. In 2012 he become Co-Chair of NIHR Comprehensive Research Network Cardiovascular Sub-Speciality Group.

Sir Mark was appointed Director of the William Harvey Research Institute in 2002 and was elected to the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2008. His particular areas of research are Cardiovascular Genomics and Translational Cardiovascular Research and Pharmacology.

From 2009 to 2011 Sir Mark was President of the British Hypertension Society. He has also served on the NICE Guideline Group for hypertension and leads the Joint UK Societies’ Working Group and Consensus on Renal Denervation which he has driven from research into NHS care.

In 2013 he became an NIHR Senior Investigator.

In June 2019, he received a knighthood in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours in recognition of his services to the 100,000 Genomes Project.

Sir Jonathan Symonds, CBE was appointed as Chairman to the GlaxoSmithKline plc Board on 1 September 2019.

Jon has extensive international financial, life sciences and governance experience.

Jon served as an Independent Non-Executive Director of HSBC Holdings plc from April 2014, and as Deputy Group Chairman from August 2018, until his retirement from the Board in February 2020. He was previously Chairman of HSBC Bank plc, HSBC’s European subsidiary, which offers services to clients in the UK and Continental Europe. Jon was Chief Financial Officer of Novartis AG from 2009 to 2013. Before joining Novartis, he was a Partner and Managing Director of Goldman Sachs; Chief Financial Officer of AstraZeneca plc; and a Partner at KPMG.

His governance experience includes roles as Non-Executive Director and Chair of the Audit Committees of Diageo plc and QinetiQ Group plc.

Jon is currently Chairman of Proteus Digital Health Inc. and a Non-Executive Director of Rubius Therapeutics, Inc. He is also a Non-Executive Director of Genomics England Limited having previously served as its Chairman.

Jon is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

Professor Sir John Bell FRS is Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University, and Chairman of the Office for the Strategic Coordination of Health Research. He recently stepped down as President of the Academy of Medical Sciences (2006-2011). As a Rhodes Scholar (1975-78), Sir John undertook his medical training in the UK and then went on to Stanford University, returning to the UK in 1987. His research interests are in the area of autoimmune disease and immunology where he has contributed to the understanding of immune activation in a range of autoimmune diseases. In 1993, he founded the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, one of the world’s leading centres for complex trait common disease genetics.

Sir John was responsible for the working party that produced the highly influential Academy of Medical Sciences “Strengthening Clinical Research” report that highlighted the need for the UK to focus some of its attention on developing expertise in translational research. In December 2011, Sir John was appointed one of two UK Life Sciences Champions by the Prime Minister.

Ewan Birney is a Director of the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) and a Senior Scientist at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory. He played a vital role in annotating the genome sequences of human, mouse, chicken and several other organisms; this work has had a profound impact on our understanding of genomic biology. Ewan also led the analysis group for the ENCODE project, which is defining functional elements in the human genome. His current areas of research include functional genomics, assembly algorithms, statistical methods to analyse genomic information and compression of sequence information.

Ewan completed his PhD at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute with Richard Durbin, and worked in the laboratories of leading scientists Adrian Krainer, Toby Gibson and Iain Campbell. He received the 2003 Francis Crick Award from the Royal Society, the 2005 Overton Prize from the International Society for Computational Biology and the 2005 Benjamin Franklin Award for contributions in Open Source Bioinformatics. Ewan was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2014, was appointed Honorary Professor of Bioinformatics at the Cambridge University School of Clinical Medicine in 2015 and became a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in the same year.

Michael is Professor of Bioethics and Director of the Ethox Centre at the University of Oxford. He is a member of the Nuffield Council of Bioethics Working Group on the collection, linking, use and exploitation of biological and health data, the Data Access Committee of the Wellcome Trust Case-Control Consortium, and the Medical Research Council’s Ethics, Regulation and Public Involvement Committee.

He is also an ethics consultant to UK Biobank. He has previously been a member of a number of national and international committees and working parties including the Ethics in Practice Committee of the Royal College of Physicians and the Department of Health’s Committee for the Ethical Aspects of Pandemic Influenza. Michael chairs Genomics England’s Ethics Advisory Committee.

Keith Stewart brings an internationally recognised reputation as a leader in the field of genomics. He is currently: Professor of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science (US); Consultant – Division of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine (Mayo Clinic); Vasek and Anna Maria Polak Professor of Cancer Research (Mayo Clinic); Carlson and Nelson Endowed Director – Center for Individualized Medicine (Mayo Clinic); and Consultant – Department of Clinical Genomics (Mayo Clinic).

Keith brings a focus on the clinical applications of genomics, sits on a number of scientific advisory boards and has considerable interest in business development activities – setting up two biotech start-ups and holding a number of patents.

Kristen McLeod is the Director for the Office for Life Sciences, a joint government unit across the Department of Health and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The Office for Life Sciences aims to improve the health and wealth of the nation by maximising the opportunities from the life sciences industry in the UK, supporting their contribution to improved health and outcomes in the NHS, and ensuring the UK is a competitive location for life sciences investment.

Prior to this role, Kristen was Director of Strategy, System Oversight and Performance at the Department of Health. In health, she has also previously been Principal Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Health and Deputy Director of NHS Provider Policy, in addition to a number of roles in the Cabinet Office.

Kristen is currently on maternity leave, but will remain on the Board upon her return.

Lord David Prior is Chair of the NHS England Board.

Lord Prior was educated at Cambridge University and subsequently qualified as a barrister. He trained in finance at Lehman Brothers and Lazard Freres in New York before holding a number of senior positions within the industrial sector, including British Steel, where he was Commercial Director. He was elected MP for North Norfolk in 1997.

He served as Chairman of Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust from 2002 – 2012 before becoming Chairman of the Care Quality Commission.

In 2015, he was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health and created a Life Peer. In December 2016, he was appointed as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, with specific responsibility for developing industrial strategy. He stepped down from this role in December 2017 to become Chairman of University College London Hospitals.

He is a Commissioner of the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose Commission on Mission-Orientated Innovation and Industrial Strategy (MOIIS), is a member of the BEIS Industrial Strategy Implementation Group and a Senior Advisor to Lazard.

Gary Cook is Deputy Director in the Office for Life Sciences (OLS) responsible for three areas of core Government policy. First, the strategy, vision and policy for genomics. Second, data policy for the life sciences sector. Third, resilience in the supply chain.

Gary has over seven years’ experience in the Civil Service across five Government Departments, and previously worked in the banking industry on digital and data.

Gary has an MSc in Public Policy from LSE, an MSc in Information Technology for e-Commerce from the University of Sussex and a BSc in Information Systems from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Nick is Genomics England’s General Counsel and Company Secretary, and the Board’s Secretariat.

He is responsible for all legal activity within Genomics England, and for signing off all procurement and contracting work.

Prior to his role at Genomics England, Nick was a partner in three Top 100 law firms: Pinsent Masons, DLA Piper and Bircham Dyson Bell.

Board minutes

Redacted Board minutes are available to download below.