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.
Professor Vince Emery (Chair of the Trustee Board)
Professor Vince Emery is President of the University of Hertfordshire's branch campus hosted by Global Academic Foundation in Egypt and is also Emeritus Professor of Translational Virology at the University of Surrey and a Visiting Professor at the University of Hertfordshire, UK.
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.
Professor Mike Turner (Deputy Chair of the Trustee Board)
Mike is a consultant currently working for the Neglected Tropical Diseases department of the WHO in their snakebite initiative. He is Honorary Professor at University of Glasgow UK, a member of council at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and on the Science Advisory Board at the Glasgow Centre for Virus Research. He is a former Director of Science and member of the Senior Executive team at Wellcome, Europe’s largest biomedical research foundation. He joined Wellcome in 2014 as Head of Infection and Immunobiology and led on a number of portfolios including funding responses to emerging viral diseases – Ebola, Zika, Yellow Fever and Covid19.
Approximately three quarters of the science funded by Wellcome is based in the UK but Mike had particular responsibilities for Wellcome’s funding in Africa, India and SE Asia as well.. Before joining Wellcome he was at the University of Glasgow where he held Beit, Royal Society and Leverhulme Fellowships. Latterly, he became Professor of Parasitology and held a number of managerial roles, including as Head of Division. His research interests focussed on the trypanosome parasites that cause African sleeping sickness in humans and Nagana in livestock, the genomics of malaria parasites and the immunoepidemiology of schistosomes.
Rona Chester (Chair of Finance and Audit Committee)
Rona is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants with over 30 years’ experience in leading financial teams in both the public and private sector. During her early career Rona worked in international finance managing the Finance and Treasury teams for an oil and gas shipping business followed by roles at Sotheby’s as their European Finance Director and Ofcom the newly formed communications regulator. More recently Rona was the Chief Operating Officer at Sport England, the lottery distri
butor, where additional responsibilities included grants management, Commercial and IT as well as contributing to the development of the organisations strategy.
Alison Hardy (Chair of Nominations and Governance Committee)
Alison is a solicitor and partner with City law firm Ashurst LLP where she leads the real estate dispute resolution practice. She is the HR partner for the dispute resolution practice at Ashurst, which involves overseeing the recruitment and retention of talent and the appraisal, review and remuneration systems for the department. She is a former Chair of the Property Litigation Association, having earlier chaired the association's website and marketing committee. She provides strategic risk management and dispute resolution advice in relation to complex, high value commercial real estate related issues and has a particular interest in property-related insolvency, telecoms and technology fields. She is experienced in all aspects of commercial real estate including landlord and tenant, development, investment, capital markets, strategic land assembly, infrastructure, rail, owner occupiers, retail, utilities, telecoms, data centres and logistics. She is a member of the RICS Dilapidations Forum and chaired the UK RICS dilapidations conference in 2021. She speaks at conferences and is regularly quoted in both the Estates Gazette and Property Week, and has been quoted in other reputable publications such as The Times and The Financial Times. Alison is actively involved in diversity and inclusion, and is the partner sponsor of Ashurst's Social Mobility and Inclusion network, which is working to remove barriers to entry into and progression within the legal profession.
Dr Paul Logan (Chair of Risk and Assurance Committee)
Prior to his retirement in 2020, Paul was a Senior Civil Servant in the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which he had joined as a regulatory scientist. He subsequently trained as a specialist inspector with responsibility for inspection of high containment laboratories. During his time in HSE he chaired a number of industry/government committees, as well as representing the UK on a European Medicines Agency working group on Gene Therapy, and a World Health Organization group developing guidelines for the manufacture of pandemic flu vaccines. In his final post he was Director of the division in HSE with responsibility for regulation of major hazards industries, including chemical manufacturing, oil refineries, explosives manufacture and storage, and high containment laboratories.
Jon was a senior Partner at Brunswick Group LLP, a leading international communications consultancy, where he advised the Boards of Directors of global groups on strategic communications and corporate reputation. His particular focus was on clients in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and agriculture industries.
Emma has over 25 years professional experience across a multitude of sectors in cyber security, technology, and regulatory compliance. Experienced in all facets of cyber security including data protection, cloud, infrastructure and application security, preventing business disruption, cyber fraud and intellectual property theft. She is a trusted advisor to senior leadership, risk and audit committees, and company boards. She participates on several advisory boards to influence and drive cyber security development and solution innovation and regularly participates in industry and regulatory forums as an advisor and speaker. Emma is actively involved in promoting diversity and inclusion, and seeks to encourage careers in science and technology to minority groups.
Emma has a Master’s degree in Information Security from Royal Holloway, University of London.
Dr Linda Magee OBE
Linda is a life sciences sector specialist in the UK Government’s Department for Business and Trade. She supports the UK sector team and international network to identify opportunities for the UK economy and businesses in life sciences and healthcare.
Prior to her current position Linda was Chief Operations Officer of the NIHR Manchester Academic Health Science Centre (MAHSC), a national centre of excellence for translational medicine, and Commercial Director of the NHS Greater Manchester Academic Health Science Network (GMAHSN), part of a national network dedicated to the adoption of innovation into the NHS.
Linda was co-founder and General Manager of Manchester Biotech Ltd, the UK’s first dedicated campus based biotechnology incubator company and later set up Bionow®, a biomedical cluster organisation, while the Northwest Development Agency’s Sector Director for Life Sciences. In this role she also established the National Biomanufacturing Centre at Speke, now a commercial biopharmaceutical facility.
Following a PhD in Medical Biochemistry at the University of Southampton, Linda worked for a multinational healthcare company in technical and marketing positions. She was awarded an OBE in 2009 for services to biotechnology.
Professor Deenan Pillay
Deenan is Emeritus Professor of Virology at University College London. He has been a clinical virologist for the last 30 years, working within the Public Health Laboratory Service, Health Protection Agency, NHS and academia. His main interest has been the use of antiviral therapy, and emergence of drug resistance, particularly regarding HIV. From 2013-2019 he was Director/CEO of the Wellcome Trust-funded Africa Health Research Institute, an independent institute based in Kwa Zulu Natal in South Africa focused on laboratory, clinical and population approaches to HIV and TB. He is currently Non-Executive Director of an NHS Trust, and until recently Chaired Independent SAGE, a scientific group focused on public engagement and discussion on COVID.
Jane has over 30 years of experience of all aspects of strategic financial planning, financial management, financial accounting, systems and processes. As a result of her roles she has a working knowledge of government departments, funding councils, academia and the pharmaceutical industry. Her last position was as the Director of Finance and Corporate Services at the Diamond Light Source, the UK’s national synchrotron science facility.
Professor Geoffrey L. Smith (Chair)
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).
Professor Dr Martin Beer
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 Mary Cameron
Mary has over 30 years’ experience in delivering international level field and laboratory research focusing on the surveillance and control of a wide range of vector-borne diseases, particularly leishmaniasis. During this time, Mary has developed strong collaborative networks on neglected tropical diseases in multiple disease endemic countries. She is presently the Principal Investigator of the Bill and Melinda Gates Programme: Setting the Post-Elimination Agenda for Kala-azar in India (SPEAK India). The focus of the operational research is to work towards sustained elimination of visceral leishmaniasis in the Indian Sub-continent. The work comprises four synergistic pillars: surveillance, mathematical modelling, disease transmission and health systems.
In addition, Mary is currently a member of the steering committees of the MRC-funded research project ‘The epidemiology of scrub typhus and rickettisial infections in a highly endemic rural setting in South India: population-based cohort study’, and the BBSRC-funded ‘The Global Vector Hub’. Until July 2021, Mary was Co-Director of a BBSRC GCRF network ‘The Gnatwork: building capacity for research on neglected tropical vectors’ (with Dr Simon Carpenter, The Pirbright Institute).
Externally, Mary has held several societal advisory roles and was Editor-in-Chief of Medical and Veterinary Entomology (2012-2020). Current roles include Member of the WHO Regional Technical Advisory Group to support the Kala-azar elimination programme in the South-East Asia Region (since 2017) and External Examiner for MSc Global Health Course (University of Edinburgh) (since 2018). Mary is a co-founder and Director of LSHTM’s first spin out company, Vecotech Ltd, which serves as a vehicle to support commercial exploitation of intellectual property generated by vector control research at LSHTM and other academic organisations. The company is now operating as Arctech Innovation Ltd.
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 Paul Kellam
Paul’s research career has identified how HIV develops resistance to antiviral drugs and identified the first influenza disease severity gene in people hospitalised with influenza virus. His laboratory produced the virus genome analysis of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS CoV) outbreaks working with the Department of Health in Saudi Arabia, showing that the transmission pattern of the virus was consistent with multiple transfer events from an animal reservoir and contributing to the identification of camels as the animal reservoir. His laboratory contributed to the international Ebola virus genome analysis to help the WHO control the outbreak and to show the factors influencing virus transmission. Paul’s work on B cell repertoires has showed how the application of genetics and computational biology can give insights into infectious and non-infectious disease biology and leads to the discovery of antibodies to treat infections, such as SARS-CoV-2.
Professor Deenan Pillay
Eleanor M. Riley, BSc, BVSc, PhD, FRSB, FMedSci
Eleanor’s research focusses on mechanisms of immunity to malaria in humans and in animal models, how the immune response can contribute to disease, how immunity affects the distribution and transmission of the parasite and how malaria infection affects resistance to other infections. In addition, Eleanor has a longstanding interest in the biology of natural killer (NK) cells and their role in resistance to infection.
Eleanor is a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Academy of Medical Sciences and has previously served as Committee and Strategy Panel chair at BBSRC and as deputy chair of the MRC Infections and Immunity Board. She is currently a member of the governing Council of the MRC, was recently elected to the governing Council the Academy of Medical Sciences and is a member of the advisory board of the Science Media Centre.
Professor David Rowlands
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.
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.