New Russell Group chair named as Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell

The University of Manchester vice-chancellor will take over on 1 September 2020

The Russell Group has named Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell its new chair.

Professor Rothwell, who has spent ten years as president and vice-chancellor of The University of Manchester, will take up her role on 1 September 2020

She will be the first woman to chair the association of 24 leading universities, and the eighth vice- chancellor.

“It is a great honour and privilege to be named the next chair of this prestigious group of historic institutions,” said Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell.

“At present, we find ourselves in unprecedented times. Not just in the higher education sector, but across all of society and that is why it has never been more important for our universities to work collaboratively.

“Together we can, and must, play a key role in helping the UK and wider international community respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, subsequent recovery, and other global challenges.

“With that in mind, I look forward to working with this group of world-class universities and all other relevant organisations to ensure that UK universities remain global leaders in research, education and their many wider contributions to society.

“I must also recognise the excellent work done by the current chair, Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli who has done an exceptional task in what have been incredibly challenging times for the sector.”

In these challenging times the value of the research and innovation nurtured at Russell Group universities is even more important

Chief executive of the Russell Group Dr Tim Bradshaw added:

“I am delighted to welcome Nancy as our in-coming Chair at what is such a critical time for our universities and for the UK economy and society as a whole.

“In these challenging times the value of the research and innovation nurtured at Russell Group universities is even more important. Not just in the fightback against Covid-19, where our members are helping to map the virus and its effects, trial new treatments and help our fantastic NHS, but in the UK’s recovery from the current crisis.

“The ideas, skills and talent that flow out of our universities will be at the heart of that recovery and I look forward to working with Prof Rothwell to champion our universities and the transformative impact of higher education overall.

“I and all our Vice-Chancellors would also like to thank Sir Anton for his work and leading our organisation through a time of significant change and all the challenges that come with it.”

The Rothwell CV

  • First class degree in physiology in 1976, a PhD in 1978 and a DSc in 1987 from the University of London
  • As a physiology professor, current research focuses on the role of inflammation in brain disease and brain injury
  • In 1998 delivered the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, televised by the BBC
  • Founding president of the Society of Biology (now the Royal Society of Biology)
  • Former president of the British Neuroscience Association
  • Non-executive director of AstraZeneca
  • Winner of the prestigious Pfizer Research Prize 2003
  • Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2004
  • Made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 2005

The Russell Group represents 24 leading, research UK universities.


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