The Pirbright Institute is an independent company, limited by guarantee and a registered charity, governed by a Board of non-executive Trustee Directors. Research at the Institute is reviewed by an independent group of leading scientists who comprise of the Science Advisory Board and whose role it is to provide advice and guidance on science strategy and direction.
Ian is currently Director of Quality at NHS Blood and Transplant. He is an Executive Director and Board Member with significant strategic leadership experience in healthcare organisations in both public and private sectors. He has a strong background in corporate leadership of quality, regulatory affairs, corporate governance, assurance, risk, health and safety, environment management and continuous improvement.
Ian Black is the founder and a Director of Arch Management Consultants focusing on Organisation Strategy, HR Leadership, Change Management, Remuneration, Talent Management, Governance and Performance Improvement. In this capacity he has provided consulting services to organisations in various sectors including, insurance, consumer goods, aviation, pharmaceuticals and technology.
Ian has served as a Non- Executive Director in both the public and private sectors where he has been a Member or Chair of Board Committees such as Audit, Remuneration, Nominations and Strategy. Appointments included LMC, LG, Remploy Services, MLCSL and QIB. He is also a Director of BSH, Ltd an international equestrian business.
Professor Vince Emery
Prof Emery graduated with a first class BSc in Biochemistry with Chemistry from the University of Southampton and then undertook his PhD research in mechanistic biochemistry under the auspices of Professor Muhammad Akhtar FRS. His interests in virology started when he undertook a postdoctoral fellowship at the NERC Institute of Virology at Oxford, where he worked on transcription termination in phleboviruses, determining the attenuation in a vaccine strain of Rift Valley Fever Virus used by the US Army, and developing the World’s first baculovirus multiple expression vector system which was subsequently patented and licensed.
He was appointed Lecturer in Virology at the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine in 1988 and was promoted to Professor of Virology at UCL in 2000. Over the last 30 years, his research has aimed to provide an interdisciplinary approach to understanding viral infections in immunocompromised hosts such as HIV-infected patients and transplant recipients. His particular interests have focused on cytomegalovirus in solid organ and stem cell transplant recipients and in newborns (especially in Africa) by combining viral replication methods with assessment of the immune response and mathematical biology approaches to improve patient management. During his career he has obtained in excess of £29 million of grant money from Government agencies in the UK and USA, charitable organisations, and the private sector and has a an H-index of 67 and his work has been cited over 14,000 times.
Prof Emery is a Deputy Director of a UCL led consortium called i-sense (www.i-sense.org.uk) which is supported by £14 million grants from EPSRC and focuses on developing novel sensing methods for infectious diseases. Prof Emery is a fellow of the Royal Society of Biology and was selected as a Fellow of the American Society of Transplantation in 2017 for his contribution to infectious disease research and its impact on patients following transplantation.
Prof Emery has published 238 research articles, reviews, and books including a patient’s guide to cytomegalovirus. In addition, Prof Emery is a named inventor on five patents in the area of biotechnology and molecular diagnostics, with the molecular diagnostics patent for cytomegalovirus detection licenced to Public Health England.
Dr Vanessa Mayatt OBE
Sir Bertie Ross
Professor John Stephenson - Chair
Professor Jeffrey Almond - Chair
He was lecturer at the University of Leicester from 1979-85 and Professor of Microbiology at the University of Reading 1985-99. He has published extensively, especially in the field of Virology.
His scientific contributions include the first demonstration that a single gene can determine host range of influenza virus– a finding highly relevant to understanding evolution of new pandemic strains; completion of the genetic map of an avian influenza virus, and the first detailed description of the proteins of Influenza B virus. He has also made major contributions to our understanding of polio virus and its vaccines.
In 1985 as a young academic, Almond won the Fleming Award for outstanding contributions to microbiological research by a young microbiologist in the UK, and the pace and extent of his contributions have not diminished. In his previous role he was responsible for the scientific rationale underpinning approximately 30 vaccine projects covering viruses, bacteria and eukaryotic parasites.
During the BSE crisis he served as coordinator of the BBSRC’s Research programme on the Spongiform Encephalopathies and was a member of the Government’s Spongiform Encephalopathies Advisory Committee (SEAC). He is an Elected fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and in 1999 was awarded the Ivanovsky Medal for “Contributions to the Development of Virology” by The Scientific Council of Virology of Russian Academy of Medical Sciences.
Professor Persephone Borrow
She obtained a BA(Hons) degree in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge, UK and stayed at Cambridge to study for a PhD under the supervision of Professor Tony Nash. After this she carried out postdoctoral research with Professor Michael Oldstone at The Scripps Research Institute, USA, where she subsequently progressed to become an Assistant Member. She then returned to the UK to lead the Viral Immunology Group at the newly-established Edward Jenner Institute for Vaccine Research, and in 2005 joined the Nuffield Department of Medicine at the University of Oxford, where she currently holds the position of Professor of Viral Immunology and is also a Jenner Institute Investigator.
Her research team, based at the NDM Research Building on Oxford University’s Old Road Campus, focuses mainly on analysis of CD4 and CD8 T cell responses and innate responses in HIV infection, aiming to inform the development of vaccines and other prophylactic and therapeutic strategies based on modulation of T cell and innate immunity; and is also performing some comparative studies of innate responses in other human virus infections including herpesvirus infections. Her group’s research is largely funded by the MRC and the US NIH.
Professor Joe Brownlie
Professor Brownlie advises on new and emerging diseases both nationally and internationally and was, until recently, Chairman of the Board of Trustees for The Pirbright Institute. He is a Governor of the Southern Africa Centre for Infectious Disease and Surveillance (SACIDS). He has chaired the BVD Scientific and Technical Group to define a strategy for national eradication of the disease. He is currently engaged on taking his discovery of new viruses through development to commercial vaccines.
Professor Brownlie worked at The Pirbright Institute (formerly known as the Institute of Animal Health) from 1968 to 1995.
Professor Gary Entrican
For most of his time at MRI he led a team investigating chlamydial abortion in sheep and identification of Th1-type responses as immune correlates of protection for novel sub-unit vaccine design. He managed a cross-Institute Work Package within the Scottish Government Strategic Research Programme until his departure from MRI in 2019.
Gary was awarded an Honorary Professorship within the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine at The University of Edinburgh in 2008, a position he still holds. He has been active in a number of Committees, including Chair of the International Union of Immunological Societies Veterinary Immunology Committee (2013-2019). He is currently a member of the Scientific Committee of the STAR-IDAZ International Research Consortium (2017-2022) and Congress Secretary of the British Society for Immunology (2017-2021) and maintains his interests in vaccinology and ruminant immunology.
Professor Stephen Inglis
After a degree in biochemistry from Aberdeen and a Cambridge Ph.D. working on the molecular biology of influenza virus, he spent ten years as a lecturer in the Department of Pathology, Cambridge University, specializing in RNA viruses. In 1990 he moved into the biotechnology industry, developing novel vaccines and biotherapeutics as one of the founders of Cantab Pharmaceuticals, and becoming Research Director in 1995.
At NIBSC he played a key role in particular in shaping its influenza and advanced therapies programmes as well as overseeing successive mergers with the HPA and MHRA. He has served on many national advisory committees, including the Joint Vaccination and Immunisation Committee, Joint Professional Advisory Committee to the UK Blood Services and Scientific Pandemic Influenza Advisory Group. He also played an important role internationally as Director of the leading WHO Collaborating Laboratory for Standards and a member of the WHO’s Global Vaccine Action Plan Monitoring Group.
He holds an Honorary Professorship in the Division of Infection and Immunity at University College London, a visiting Fellowship at the National Institutes for Food and Drug Control, Beijing, and received a CBE in the 2017 New Year’s Honours List.
Professor Thomas Mettenleiter
After obtaining a PhD with studies on pseudorabies virus (PrV) glycoproteins he went to performed research at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, USA for 18 months to continue his work on PrV in collaboration with Professor Tamar Ben-Porat, then the world's leading PrV researcher. After his return he was appointed director of the department of molecular and cellular virology at Insel Riems. His scientific studies on the molecular biology and pathogenesis of animal herpesviruses provided important results to understand the structure, replication, virulence and tropism of herpesviruses and for the development of novel vaccines. His results contributed to the first development of marked vaccines and, thus, for the efficient control and eradication of Aujeszky's disease in pigs.
Since 1997 he is president of the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut (FLI), Federal Research Institute for Animal Health, with headquarters on the Isle of Riems close to Greifswald, the world's oldest virological research institute. The FLI has been designated a Collaborative Center for Zoonoses in Europe of the World Organization of Animal Health (OIE). He is a member of the German academy of sciences Leopoldina, the Polish Academy of Science, the Belgian Royal Medical Society and the Academy of Science in Hamburg. In addition, he holds an honorary doctorate in veterinary medicine awarded from the veterinary university at Hannover, Germany and was awarded the Robert von Ostertag-Medal, the highest distinction of the German Veterinary Association. He has published around 400 peer reviewed papers in high ranking journals mostly on PrV and other animal herpesviruses but also on influenza, rhabdo, paramyxo and other viruses. He remains devoted to the study of PrV as a model for herpesvirus infection and as an important infectious agent for animal husbandry.
Professor John Pickett
Professor Pickett completed BSc and PhD degrees at the University of Surrey and was a post-doctoral researcher in organic chemistry at UMIST before joining the Brewing Research Foundation.
In 1976, he moved to Rothamsted Experimental Station (now Rothamsted Research), studying ways to control insect pests by modifying behavioural activity. He was appointed Head of the Insecticides and Fungicides Department (later the Biological Chemistry Department) in 1984, and Director of the Centre for Sustainable Pest and Disease Management in 2007.
He has also been a Special Professor at the University of Nottingham since 1991, and an Honorary Member of the Academic Staff at the University of Reading since 1995. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1996 and a Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences (US) in 2014.
He was awarded a share of the 2008 Wolf Prize in Agriculture "for their remarkable discoveries of mechanisms governing plant-insect and plant-plant interactions. Their scientific contributions on chemical ecology have fostered the development of integrated pest management and significantly advanced agricultural sustainability”. He delivered the Croonian Lecture the same year to the Royal Society on Plant and Animal Communication.
Professor Helen Sang
Helen was then appointed as a Principal Investigator at The Roslin Institute, now part of the University of Edinburgh. Her main research focus at The Roslin Institute has been the development of technologies for genetic modification of the chicken, which are applied in basic biomedical research, biotechnology and investigating the potential for developing disease resistance in production chickens. Professor Helen Sang was appointed Personal Chair in Vertebrate Molecular Development in 2009. Her research has been supported by grants from the BBSRC, MRC, Wellcome Trust and industry.
In addition to her research, Helen has a strong commitment to Public Engagement with Research and lead the Roslin Institute’s Athena SWAN (gender equality) activities, resulting in achieving a gold award. Helen has been a member of several BBSRC committees and BBSRC Council, and is currently a member of the UKRI-BBSRC’s Appointments Board. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology and the Royal Society of Edinburgh and was awarded an OBE in 2019 for services to food security and bioscience for health.
Professor Geoffrey L. Smith
Current external roles include Chairmanship of the WHO Advisory Committee for Variola Virus (smallpox) Research (2004-) and the Scientific Advisory Board of the Centre for Structural and Systems Biology, Hamburg, and a member of the University Research Grants Council, Hong Kong. Formerly, he was President of IUMS, Chairman of the Royal Society Committee for Scientific Aspects of International Security, Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Friedrich-Loeffler Institute (German Ministry for Food and Agriculture), a member of the Royal Society Science Policy Advisory Group, and a Governor of the Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine. He was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (2002), the Institute of Biology (2002), the Royal Society (2003), a Founding Member of the European Academy of Microbiology (2008) and a member of Leopoldina - the German National Academy of Sciences (2011).
Dr Samuel Thevasagayam
Samuel started his career as a small animal clinician and lecturer at the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. He then went on to work in academic research, Pharmaceutical R&D (veterinary and human), Business Development and within the not-for profit sector, living and working in four continents before joining the Gates Foundation.
Samuel graduated from the faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Sciences of the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. Gained his PhD in veterinary virology from the University of Hertfordshire for his research on foot-and-mouth disease virus at The Pirbright Institute and holds an MBA from the University of Oxford. He is a Charted Biologist and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology.