Genomics England announces appointment of new Chief Scientific Officer

Genomics England today announces the appointment of Professor Matt Brown as the organisation’s new Chief Scientific Officer following a rigorous recruitment process.

Professor Brown is an internationally renowned clinician-scientist, and is currently Professor of Medicine at King’s College London, as well as Director of the NIHR Guy’s and St Thomas’ Biomedical Research Centre.

He has a deep background in genomics, and has previously been Director of Genomics and Distinguished Professor at the Queensland University of Technology. His work there also involved sensitive engagement with indigenous communities on healthcare research and genomics.

Genomics England’s CEO Chris Wigley commented: “We’re delighted Professor Matt Brown has accepted this position providing the benefit of his scientific expertise, leadership, and knowledge of the research landscape. Genomics England’s vision is a world in which everyone has access to the benefits of genomics healthcare, and Matt can help us deliver on that vision.”

Professor Brown commented: “I’m thrilled to be joining this iconic organisation and working with its outstanding staff to deliver on the amazing promise genomics has to improve diagnosis and management of a huge swathe of human diseases.”

Professor Brown trained as a clinician-scientist and a rheumatologist, and has made contributions to the development of gene-mapping approaches in human diseases and genome-wide association study (GWAS) methodology, leading to the discovery of thousands of genetic variants, with a particular interest in ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis.

In the genetics of rare human diseases, he has identified genes responsible for monogenic forms of arthritis, ectopic bone development, and skeletal dysplasias. He established and directed one of Australia’s largest cancer personalised medicine genomics services, the Australian Translational Genomics Centre, in Brisbane.

He replaces Professor Sir Mark Caulfield, and will take up the appointment in November.

Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford, Chair of Genomics England, said: “Professor Matt Brown’s appointment shows our continued commitment to be led by the science and ensuring we focus on delivering for participants, patients, researchers, and the wider public. Matt’s blend of research and healthcare experience makes him the ideal individual to continue Genomics England’s crucial work with partners across the UK to ensure we maximise the possible benefits of genomic research and healthcare.”

Jillian Hastings Ward, Chair of the Participant Panel at Genomics England, said: “Genomes and the people behind them can tell us a lot about disease and wellbeing. We look forward to working with Prof Brown to ensure that the interests of the research participants whose data is held by Genomics England remain at the heart of the research agenda.”

A spokesperson for Guy’s and St Thomas’ commented: “Congratulations to Professor Matt Brown on being appointed to the post of Chief Scientific Officer of Genomics England, an important national role drawing on his experience and research interests in genomics. Matt will be leaving his role as Director of the NIHR Guy’s and St Thomas’ Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) in October but will retain part-time appointments with the Trust and King’s College London. Matt has provided fantastic leadership for the BRC for 2 years and overseen the BRC’s invaluable contributions including to Urgent Public Health studies in prevention and management of Covid-19. We wish him well in the new role and look forward to maintaining our collaborations with him at Genomics England.”

A spokesperson for King’s College London commented: “We are very proud of Professor Brown’s appointment, in which he will lead on all scientific activities for Genomics England, including crucial projects looking at genome sequencing in rare disease, cancer and infection. Professor Brown will retain an important role at the university where he will continue to work on genomics related to conditions such as axial spondyloarthritis, a chronic back pain caused by inflammatory arthritis, and other important disease areas.”

Ends

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