Government pick for head of Research England revealed

Prof Dame Jessica Corner, who is currently a pro-vice-chancellor at the University of Nottingham, is the government’s pick to lead the English research funder

The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has announced Prof Dame Jessica Corner as the preferred candidate for executive chair of Research England.

Dame Jessica would run the funding body charged with distributing around £2 billion annual grant funding to English universities and overseeing the research and knowledge exchange agendas. Research England‘s budget will grow to £2.3bn by 2024/25.

She is expected to take up the role in October 2022, succeeding David Sweeney, who has led Research England since its creation in 2018: the appointment must first gain the approval of a vote of the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee on 20 April.

Dame Jessica is a professor of cancer and support career with a 35-year career in higher education after starting her professional life as a nurse. She is currently pro-vice-chancellor for research and knowledge exchange at the University of Nottingham.

BEIS said Dame Jessica had successfully improved participation in research at Nottingham among women and colleagues from minority ethnic backgrounds.

“Professor Dame Jessica Corner’s experience and expertise will be a huge asset to both Research England and UK Research and Innovation,” said Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, chief executive of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). “She brings a wealth of experience from her leadership of research and knowledge exchange at the University of Nottingham, her distinguished research career and her many wider roles across the sector.”

Said Dame Jessica: “I am delighted to be chosen as the preferred candidate for the role of Executive Chair of Research England at this time of huge opportunity for the country’s truly outstanding research base. I know I will be building on the immense contribution made by David Sweeney to UKRI, Research England and our research ecosystem over his extensive career. I look forward to supporting our national community of researchers.”

Read more: UKRI receives record funding allocation

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