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Our governance

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 the Science Advisory Board and whose role it is to provide advice and guidance on science strategy and direction.

Dr Theo Kanellos

Dr Theo KanellosDr Kanellos is a veterinary scientist who moved from practicing veterinary medicine in Greece into research at The Royal Veterinary College of the University of London, with a focus on infectious diseases of both animals and humans. He later moved into industry, holding positions at MSD and then at Zoetis where he is currently Director in the Corporate Development and Strategic Alliances group.

Mr Roger Louth

Mr Louth has spent his career in the UK civil service, with 20 years as a senior civil servant in the Department for Business Innovation and Skills where he gained extensive experience in the integrated development of policy and its implementation and successful delivery in areas of financial and economic regulation; and business and research investment. In his final post before his retirement in 2011 he was responsible for the strategic financial management of the £6 billion per annum Science and Research Budget.

Dr Vanessa Mayatt OBE

Dr Mayatt OBE has had a long career in occupational health and safety and the management of risk. This has included 16 years at the Health & Safety Executive, as well as director roles in global risk management, broking and insurance organisations. She has also established an independent risk management consultancy through which she has worked with many public sector and FTSE 100 organisations to help them structure their approaches to managing risk and provided advice on legal compliance.

Professor Quintin McKellar CBE - Chair

Professor Quintin McKellar Professor McKellar is Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Hertfordshire where he oversees the day-to-day running of the institution. He is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Fellow of the Institute of Biology and Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Professor McKellar was previously Principal of The Royal Veterinary College of the University of London and is a member of the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Advisory Council and a non-executive Director of the Animal and Plant Health Agency.

Sir Bertie Ross

Sir Bertie spent much of his career working at the real estate provider Savills where his last position was Head of the London Agricultural Department in London until 1997. He was appointed a member of the Prince’s Council in 1996 and in 1997 was appointed Secretary and Keeper of the Records (Chief Executive Officer) for the Duchy of Cornwall, before retiring from the role in June 2013. Sir Bertie farms mixed livestock and arable land in Scotland and is a member of the Investment Committee of Magdalen College Oxford.

Professor David Rowlands

Professor David RowlandsProfessor Rowlands is an emeritus Professor of Molecular Virology and Visiting Research Professor at the University of Leeds. He worked at the Animal Virus Research Institute (now The Pirbright Institute) for approximately 20 years, before transferring to industry, holding positions at Wellcome Biotech and the Wellcome Foundation. In 1996 he became Professor of Molecular Virology at the University of Leeds and has continued to conduct research at the University since his official retirement in 2005.

Mr Mike Samuel

Mike Samual - Trustee Board MemberMr Samuel has spent 36 years with Unilever working both in the UK and North America in the finance function. From 1991 he was UK National Financial Director up to his retirement in September 2005. He has been a trustee of the Unilever UK Pension Fund for the last 20 years and currently chairs its Investment Committee. He has also been a member of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council Audit Board and a member of the Governing Body of the Institute of Food Research.

Professor John Stephenson

Professor Stephenson has had a distinguished research career, with a long-standing interest in the interaction between virus infection and the immune system. In 1999 he joined the Department of Health as Chief Research Officer responsible for managing programmes on CJD, vaccines, pandemic influenza and counter terrorism. In 2007 he was appointed Director of Research and Development for the Health Protection Agency. Professor Stephenson also holds an honorary professorship at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where he is also a member of Council.

Professor Jeffrey Almond - Chair

Professor Jeffrey Almond Professor Jeffrey Almond is an Oxford Martin Visiting Fellow with the Oxford Martin Programme on Vaccines and was Former Vice President and Head of Discovery Research and External R&D at Sanofi Pasteur and Visiting Fellow at the William School of Pathology, University of Oxford.

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 Wendy Barclay

Professor Wendy Barclay joined Imperial College in May 2007, moving with her research group from the University of Reading where she had previously been based since 1995.  She graduated in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University and had undertaken her PhD at the Common Cold Unit, Salisbury under joint supervision of Dr David Tyrrell and Dr Fred Brown, studying the human immune response to rhinovirus.  She acquired molecular virology skills as a postdoctoral fellow first in the laboratories of Professor Jeff Almond at Reading, and then working with Dr Peter Palese at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York.

Professor Barclay’s expertise is in the field of respiratory viruses, in particular influenza virus. Her studies aim to understand the molecular and cellular basis of the pathogenesis, host range restrictions and transmissibility of influenza viruses. The approach includes the generation of recombinant viruses with defined mutations. This strategy has contributed to the production of novel influenza pandemic vaccines. Translational aspects include analysing mode of action and resistance mechanisms of antiviral compounds, and characterization of novel cell substrates and attenuated virus backbones for influenza vaccines.  Her laboratory is funded by grants awarded by the European Union, MRC, BBSRC, and Wellcome Trust.

Professor Persephone Borrow

Professor Persephone BorrowProfessor Persephone Borrow is a viral immunologist whose research interests centre on understanding virus-immune system interactions and their roles in determining the balance between virus clearance versus viral persistence and associated pathogenesis.

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 Joe Brownlie Professor Joe Brownlie is Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Pathology in the Department of Pathology & Pathogen Biology at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC). He currently heads up two active research groups at the RVC; one on bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV) and one on canine infectious coronavirus disease (CIRD).

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 Duncan Maskell

Professor Duncan Maskell Professor Duncan Maskell is Marks and Spencer Professor of Farm Animal Health, Food Science and Food Safety at the Department of Veterinary Medicine, and Senior Pro-Vice Chancellor at the University of Cambridge. He worked at Wellcome Biotech, the Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Oxford, and the Department of Biochemistry, Imperial College London, before being elected to his current Professorship in 1996. He was Head of the Department of Veterinary Medicine from 2004 and Head of the School of Biological Sciences from 2013 at Cambridge before taking up his current role. He has also been a founder shareholder and consultant to a number of biotech companies and a member of many UK and overseas funding panels, advisory boards and Councils. He was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2011.

His main research interests have centred on bacterial diseases of humans and other animals, with zoonotic bacteria such as Salmonella, Campylobacter and Streptococcus suis being particularly constant elements of his research portfolio. His work has covered all aspects of the host-pathogen interaction, from how the bacteria themselves work, through to how host responses operate to lead to infection or clearance of the bacteria, and he has been a keen advocate for using genomics to study these pathogens in the laboratory and in the field.

Professor Thomas Mettenleiter

Professor Thomas Mettenleiter For more than 30 years Thomas Mettenleiter has performed research primarily on herpesviruses, in particular herpesviruses of animals. He has trained as a molecular biologist at Tübingen university from 1977-1982, then started his PhD work at the then Federal Research Centre for Virus Diseases of Animals (the current Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut).    

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 John Pickett Professor John Pickett is a British chemist who is noted for his work on insect pheromones.

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 Stephen Inglis

Professor Stephen Inglis was Director of the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control for 14 years until 2016.  NIBSC’s role is to assure the quality of existing and new biological medicines through applied research on their safety and efficacy, development of tools for their measurement, and regulatory testing of manufactured products for release on to the market. 

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.

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