The Institute is strategically run and managed by a Senior Leadership Board (SLB) which comprises of three Directors that are overseen by the Institute Director and CEO Prof Bryan Charleston. Together the SLB provides expertise and knowledge to ensure the organisation evolves and continues to operate at the forefront of scientific research, vaccinology and diagnostics and surveillance to control and contain viral diseases of livestock and those that spread from farm animals to people.
Prof Bryan Charleston MRCVS, Institute Director
He joined The Pirbright Institute (formally known as the Institute for Animal Health) in 1994 and focused on studies of the immune response to viral infections in cattle. In addition, he has provided advice on studies of the immune response to viral infections in cattle. In addition, he has provided advice and expertise on the design of infectious disease challenge models for a wide range of pathogens in important agricultural species. His research group’s efforts are focused on understanding the immune response to foot-and–mouth disease virus in cattle to develop novel vaccines.
Dr Andrew White BSc PhD CMIOSH AIEMA, Director of Risk and Assurance
He worked as a University researcher and lecturer for several years. Andy is a Chartered Health & Safety practitioner, and previously had leadership roles in Health & Safety and risk management for a number of research-led organisations, including the University of Southampton, the Wellcome Trust, Cancer Research UK, and the Medical Research Council.
As Director of Risk & Assurance for the Pirbright Institute, he leads on all aspects of risk management including biosafety, Health & Safety, quality assurance, environment, crisis management & business continuity, biosecurity, and wider enterprise risks such as financial, informational, operational, reputational and strategic risks. Andy also leads on assurance processes, including leading and lagging performance metrics, audit & inspection, and benchmarking. Andy’s approach is to develop practical and proportionate risk & assurance solutions that facilitate science excellence. Andy is also a member of the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council.
Helen Watts BSc FCA, Director of Finance and Company Secretary
Helen has worked both in the private and public/not for profit sector throughout the UK, including world leaders in the marine industry, and British Institutions. She has extensive experience of managing finance functions to deliver excellent information and financial advice. She believes strongly in providing customer focused, timely information to help the organisation make well informed decisions. She also has significant experience of providing oversight to IT functions in many varied industries, again with the aim of providing IT solutions most suitable to the organisation’s needs.
Helen is a member of the Senior Leadership Board and attends the Trustee Board as the Institute’s Company Secretary. She is also a member of the Development Programme Board, as well as being a member of a number of working groups overseeing many aspects of the Institute’s operations.
Dr Louise Barton, Head of Science Administration
Subsequently, Louise made the move into science administration. She previously worked in the Grants Management team at the Wellcome Trust, where she was responsible for overseeing all stages of the grant life cycle, in the area of Genetic and Molecular Sciences. She managed a number of Wellcome’s expert committees and was involved in a number of partnership schemes with other funding bodies. In addition, during her time at Wellcome Louise assisted in the project to implement a new grants application and management system.
Louise joined The Pirbright Institute in 2016 and she and her team support the Director, Heads of Programmes and Reference Laboratories to manage the Institute’s scientific work, grant submissions, grants management processes, research contracts and agreements. Louise manages a number of internal committees and the Institutes Scientific Advisory Board meetings.
In addition, Louise manages the Knowledge Exchange and Commercialisation team. They provide the Institute with the necessary support and continuity for existing technology transfer and business activities and develop new initiatives in knowledge exchange and commercialisation.
Ana Corral, Head of Quality and Organisation
Ana has been at Pirbright since 2015 managing the Quality and Environment team. She is also responsible for the organisation audit programme and the implementation of new laboratory software solutions. In addition, she is the Quality Manager for European Virus Archive goes Global (EVAg) and coordinates quality aspects of twinning projects between Pirbright and other organisations.
Ana works very closely with all departments across Pirbright, science and non-science, promoting a continuous improvement ethos and facilitating change. She, and her team, provides support to the organisation in all aspects of their work.
Dr Simon Carpenter
Lizelle Gouverneur, Head of Business Development
Prior to joining the Institute, Lizelle worked in the private sector, licensing in technologies like material and reagents from academic partners. She is also a trainer on the PraxisAuril Research Contracts course. Lizelle has qualifications in Biochemistry, Business Management and Intellectual Property Law.
Prof John Hammond, Head of Programme: Enhanced Host Responses for Disease Control
He now leads the Immunogenetics Group at the Institute studying the mechanisms and consequences of genetic variation on the mammalian immune system. The current focus is on the biology and evolution of immune cell receptors such as major histocompatibility (MHC) class I, NK cell receptors and immunoglobulins (antibodies) in livestock. As in humans all these molecules are highly diverse, but there are significant differences in how this diversity is generated and functions in ruminants.
The goal of this research is to determine the evolutionary history and functional significance of genetic diversity in current livestock breeds. This is underpinning the development of bespoke genotyping tools for the cattle breeding industry and leading to fine mapping the impact of variation on cellular immune function. As a consequence, differential immune responses during pathogen challenge can be traced back to genomic variation. A deeper understanding of this unique immune variation has the potential to improve disease resistance and vaccine efficacy in these key food producing animals.
Graeme Harkess, Head of Bio-Risk and Site Biosafety Officer (BSO)
Graeme is a member of the Institute of Safety in Technology and Research (MISTR), the Royal Society of Biology (MRSB), has a NEBOSH Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety is a Biosafety Practitioner (level 1), a qualified dangerous goods safety advisor (DGSA) and STEM ambassador.
Part of Graeme’s role includes being the site liaison with our regulator the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Dr Tamara Jabbar, Head of Education
Following a foundation degree in veterinary medicine, a master’s degree in Theriogenology and hands on experience in many exotic disease and exotic animal species, Tamara moved to the UK to pursue her career. In 2012, Tamara attained her PhD from The Pirbright Institute for developing a bluetongue virus (BTV) vaccine. Following her PhD, she went on to work as a lecturer in animal management at NESCOT college and offered pastoral support to the college students before returning to The Pirbright Institute as a researcher and a member of the African Swine Fever team, working on “Further development of an African swine fever virus live attenuated vaccine” project. In 2017 Tamara joined the development team at Pirbright, where she was involved in reviewing the design of the new, state-of-art animal facilities. In 2020 Tamara, joined the SPirE (Sharing Pirbright’s Expertise) team, where she was responsible for the development of training courses targeting researchers and/or veterinarians interested in enhancing their knowledge of exotic viral diseases. The courses aimed at veterinarians are specifically designed to boost their workplace awareness of clinical signs, diagnostic tests, and control measures, and may be used to support their continuing professional development. The courses she developed included African swine fever, Marek’s disease, avian influenza virus and infectious bursal disease.
Anna Lawton, Head of Health Safety and Environment
As Head of Health Safety and Environment, Anna is responsible for ensuring compliance with a wide range of health, safety and environmental legislation and regulatory requirements, and supports the Head of Biorisk in various aspects of biosafety management. She leads on the Institute’s Human Factors programme and has a special interest in behavioural safety, safety culture, and worker engagement.
Anna is a Chartered Health and Safety Practitioner and a member of the Institute of Safety in Technology and Research.
Teresa Maughan, Head of Communications
Teresa has a CIPR Diploma in Public Relations and a BSc Hons Degree in Psychology and Zoology and has spent all entire career working in marketing and communications in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors.
Teresa joined the Institute in 2013 and she and her team have been responsible for delivering a new corporate website, a year of Centenary celebrations and introduced innovative ways to communicate the scientific work of the Institute as well as engaging in an extensive range of public engagement activities. Previously she worked in communications in local government and led on major projects that include the Olympic Torch Relay, UK Parliamentary Elections and crisis communicatons.
Prior to working in the public sector she established her own contract publishing business providing editorial and design services for clients such as BBC Worldwide, Haymarket, Channel 4, Ebury Books, DHL and Waterstones working on brands that include BBC Gardeners World, BBC Good Food, Royal Horticultural Society, Linux, Olive and Maxim. At privately owned international publishing company Dennis Publishing she built a portfolio of consumer youth magazines in the games and entertainment sector becoming Publishing Director.
Chris Overton, Head of Information Services
Chris brings with him over 25 years’ experience in Information Technology, 18 of which have been held in management roles and he has a diverse background in IT and IT project management.
Prior to joining The Pirbright Institute, Chris spent the last 11 years working as IT Manager for a medical devices company who design and manufacture orthopaedic implants, and in previous roles he has been responsible for migrating a number of key business systems into the cloud and is very keen to explore new cloud technologies as they emerge.
Fiona Sirkett, Head of Human Resources
Fiona started her HR career as a graduate with British Telecommunications (BT) in Reading, following completion of a BA in Psychology from University College Dublin and an MSc in Occupational Psychology from Queens University Belfast. She spent 13 years with BT in a variety of HR management roles, before taking some time out with family. She then moved into a role in Financial Services before moving in 2012 into the charity sector with a role in a national children’s charity. This confirmed her desire to work for organisations which can make an impact in improving the lives of others.
Fiona’s personal aims as Head of HR are to provide a framework for colleagues across all areas of the Institute to help them to meet their aspirations, on both a professional and a personal level and for the Institute to achieve outstanding success, to be a great place to work and for our employees to be proud of what we do collectively.
Dr Toby Tuthill, Head of Programme: Understanding and Preventing Viral Diseases
Toby joined The Pirbright Institute as a Research Fellow in 2009 after ten years postdoctoral experience in the laboratory of Professor Dave Rowlands at the University of Leeds.
Susan Williams, Head of Finance
Prior to this, she worked in the property management industry for 17 years, 14 of which were in a managerial position. As Finance & IT manager, Susan was a member of the board, part of the Senior Membership Team and made key decisions regarding the strategic direction of the company. Her team produced over 100 service charge audited accounts per year, managed 200 bank accounts and produced consolidated company accounts. They were also heavily involved in running service charge budget and year end meetings for over 85 property estates across the South-East. Susan also played a key role in implementing a new accounting property management system and enabling the smooth relocation of the company on two occasions.