Scientific Advisory Board

The role of the Scientific Advisory Board is to advise the Crick's Director on all aspects of the development and implementation of the institute's scientific strategy.

  1. Adrian Bird

    Adrian BirdAdrian Bird will chair the Scientific Advisory Board. Adrian has held the Buchanan Chair of Genetics at the University of Edinburgh since 1990 and is a member of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology. He graduated in biochemistry from the University of Sussex in 1968 and obtained his PhD at Edinburgh University; subsequent roles included Senior Scientist at the newly-founded Institute for Molecular Pathology in Vienna. He was a governor of the Wellcome Trust from 2000-2010 and is currently a trustee of Cancer Research UK. He received a knighthood in 2014. 

    Adrian's research focuses on the basic biology and biomedical significance of DNA methylation and other epigenetic processes. His laboratory identified CpG islands as gene markers in the vertebrate genome and discovered proteins that read the DNA methylation signal to influence chromatin structure. Mutations in one of these proteins, MeCP2, cause the severe neurological disorder Rett Syndrome. The Bird laboratory established a mouse model of Rett Syndrome and showed that the resulting severe neurological phenotype can be cured.

    Adrian's awards include the Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine, the Gairdner International Award, the BBVA Frontiers of Knowledge Award and the Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine.


  2. Hans Clevers

    Hans CleversHans Clevers obtained his MD degree in 1984 and his PhD degree in 1985 from the University Utrecht, the Netherlands. His postdoctoral work was done with Cox Terhorst at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, affiliated with Harvard University, Boston, USA.

    From 1991-2002 Hans was Professor in Immunology at the University Utrecht and, since 2002, Professor in Molecular Genetics. From 2002-2012 he was director of the Hubrecht Institute in Utrecht and from 2012-2015 he was President of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). Since June 2015 Hans has been the Director of Research at the Princess Maxima Center for pediatric oncology.

    Hans is a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Sciences of the USA. He is the recipient of a number of awards, including the Spinoza Award, the Louis-Jeantet Prize, the Heineken Prize and the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences. He is a Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur and a Knight in the Order of the Netherlands Lion.


  3. Michael AJ Ferguson

    Michael AJ FergusonMichael A J Ferguson CBE, FRS, FRSE FMedSci is Regius Professor of Life Sciences, School of Life Sciences, University of Dundee.

    Mike's research takes a multidisciplinary approach to understanding the biochemistry of protozoan parasites that cause tropical diseases, particularly the trypanosomatids that cause human African sleeping sickness, Chagas' disease and leishmaniasis. He specialises in cell surface glycoprotein and glycolipid structure, function and biosynthesis and he solved the first structures of glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) membrane anchors, which play important roles throughout eukaryotic biology.

    Mike believes in the fundamental importance of working across the biology-chemistry interface and he has published extensively in this area. He is particularly interested in translational research and, together with his colleagues, was instrumental in establishing a drug discovery unit at the University of Dundee that is delivering drug candidates for neglected tropical, and other, diseases. More recently, he led the construction of, and directs, the Discovery Centre for Translational and Interdisciplinary Research, which opened in 2014. He is a member of the Board of Governors for the Wellcome Trust and the Board of Directors of the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV). 


  4. Susan Gasser

    Susan GasserSusan Gasser has served as the Director of the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research in Basel since 2004, where she also holds a chair in molecular biology.

    Susan studied biophysics at the University of Chicago, completed her PhD at the University of Basel in biochemistry and then moved to the University of Geneva for postdoctoral work. Joining the Swiss Institute for Experimental Research in Cancer in Lausanne in 1986, she has identified mechanisms that organize chromatin in the yeast nucleus to ensure transcriptional silencing and genome stability.

    At the FMI, she extends this to C. elegans. Dr Gasser held a professorship at the University of Geneva from 2001-04, prior to her return to Basel, and served on a number of boards and advisory councils throughout Europe, including the Swiss National Research Council, the EC Presidents Science and Technology Advisory Council, and the EMBO Council, which she chaired. Among other distinctions, she received the Otto Nägeli Prize in 2006, the International INSERM award in 2011, the FEBS/EMBO Women in Science award in 2012 and the Weizmann Institute Women in Science Award in 2013.


  5. Joseph L Goldstein

    Joseph L GoldsteinJoseph L Goldstein is Chairman of the Department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Chairman of the Albert Lasker Medical Research Awards Jury and a member of the Boards of Trustees of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and The Rockefeller University.

    Joe and his colleague, Michael S. Brown, discovered the low density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor and worked out how these receptors control cholesterol homeostasis.  At the basic level, this work opened the field of receptor-mediated endocytosis, and at the clinical level it helped lay the conceptual groundwork for the development of drugs called statins that lower blood LDL-cholesterol and prevent heart attacks. Drs. Goldstein and Brown shared many awards for this work, including the Lasker Award in Basic Medical Research (1985), the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1985), and the National Medal of Science (1988). They also received the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research (2003) for more recent work on the SREBP family of transcription factors.

    In addition to his academic activities, Joe is a member of the Board of Directors of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and the Scientific Advisory Boards of Genentech, GlaxoSmithKline, and Five Prime.


  6. Demis Hassabis

    Demis Hassabis is the co-founder and CEO of DeepMind, a neuroscience-inspired AI company which develops general-purpose learning algorithms and uses them to help tackle some of the world's most pressing challenges. Since its founding in London in 2010, DeepMind has published over 100 peer-reviewed papers, three of them in the scientific journal Nature - an unprecedented achievement for a computer science lab.
    Demis Hassabis

    Demis is a former child chess prodigy, who once ranked second in the world for his age. He then coded the multi-million selling simulation game Theme Park aged 17. Following graduation from Cambridge University with a Double First in Computer Science he founded the pioneering videogames company Elixir Studios. After a decade of experience leading successful technology startups, Demis returned to academia to complete a PhD in cognitive neuroscience at University College London, followed by postdocs at MIT and Harvard, before founding DeepMind. The journal Science listed his research connecting memory with imagination as one of the top ten scientific breakthroughs of 2007.

    Demis is a five-time World Games Champion, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and the recipient of the Royal Society's Mullard Award and the Royal Academy of Engineering's Silver Medal. In 2016, Demis received WIRED magazine's Leadership in Innovation Award and in 2017 he was named in the Time 100 list of the world's most influential people.


  7. Edith Heard

    Edith HeardEdith Heard, PhD, FRS is a British scientist working at the Institut Curie in Paris and Professor of Epigenetics and Cellular Memory at the Collège de France. She graduated from Cambridge University in 1986, specializing in genetics, and then carried out her PhD at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, working on gene amplification mechanisms in cancer. She moved to the Pasteur Institute in Paris in 1990, as a postdoc, which is where she began her studies on the epigenetic process of X-chromosome inactivation. In 2000 she spent a year at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in the USA as a visiting scientist, before moving to the Institut Curie in 2001, where she is currently director of the Genetics and Developmental Biology Department.

    Edith's laboratory focuses on epigenetic processes in mammals, with a particular interest in chromosome biology and the role of non-coding RNAs, chromatin structure and nuclear organization, in the establishment and maintenance of differential expression patterns during development and in disease. She became an EMBO member in 2005, was awarded the CNRS Silver medal in 2008 and elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2013. 


  8. Tyler Jacks

    Tyler JacksTyler Jacks, PhD, is the Director of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT, an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and a Daniel K. Ludwig Scholar. Over the course of his career, Tyler has pioneered the use of gene targeting technology to study cancer-associated genes and to construct models of many human cancer types, including cancers of the lung, pancreas, brain and ovary.

    Tyler has served on the Board of Scientific Advisors of the National Cancer Institute and is a former president of the American Association of Cancer Research. He has served as an advisor to several biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies and is a founder of T2 Biosystems, a publicly-traded molecular diagnostics company, and Dragonfly Therapeutics. He is currently a member of the Board of Directors of Amgen and Thermo Fisher Scientific. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine in 2009 as well as the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2012.  He is a former winner of the Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (2005), UCSF Alumni of the Year Award (2014) as well as the 2015 MIT Killian Faculty Achievement Award.


  9. Steve Jackson

    Steve JacksonSteve Jackson FRS, FMedSci is University of Cambridge and Cancer Research UK Professor of Biology, and Head of Cancer Research UK Laboratories at the Gurdon Institute.

    Steve's research has identified many key principles by which cells respond to and repair DNA damage. He identified many DNA repair proteins, established how they function, and helped define how their dysfunction yields cancer and other age-related diseases. Steve has received various prizes, including most recently the 2015 Gagna and van Heck Prize for Medicine, the 2016 King Faisal International Prize for Science, and the 2016 AH. Heineken Prize for Medicine.

    To translate his academic work towards patient benefit, in 1997 Steve founded the drug-discovery company KuDOSPharmaceuticals, then served as Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) until and after its acquisition by AstraZeneca. Four KuDOS-generated drugs are currently in clinical trials, with the most advanced, olaparib/LynparzaTM, now being a marketed anti-cancer drug in over 40 countries. In 2010, Steve founded MISSION Therapeutics (Babraham, Cambridge) and serves as its part-time CSO. Steve's academic laboratory is now further defining mechanisms of DNA repair and associated processes, with a view to identifying new therapeutic opportunities for cancer as well as various other genetic diseases.


  10. Stephen O’Rahilly

    Stephen O'RahillyStephen O'Rahilly MD FRS FMedSci, is Professor of Clinical Biochemistry and Medicine at the University of Cambridge and Honorary Consultant Physician at Addenbrooke's Hospital.

    Steve led the establishment of the Wellcome Trust-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science, which he now co-directs. He directs the MRC Metabolic Diseases Unit and is Scientific Director of the Cambridge NIHR Biomedical Research Centre.

    Steve qualified in Medicine from University College Dublin and undertook post-graduate training in London, Oxford and Boston before setting up his laboratory in Cambridge in 1991. He has sought to better understand the molecular mechanisms leading to diabetes, obesity and related metabolic and endocrine disorders. He remains active in clinical practice.  He was elected to the Royal Society in 2003, a Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences USA in 2011 and was appointed a Knight Bachelor in 2013.


  11. Erin O'Shea

    Erin O'SheaErin O'Shea is the President of Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Paul C. Mangelsdorf Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology and of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University. She graduated from Smith College with a bachelor's degree in biochemistry and went on to receive a PhD in chemistry from MIT. She began a faculty position at UC - San Francisco in 1993 and was appointed as an HHMI Investigator in 2000, before moving to Harvard in 2005.

    Erin's lab has studied how cells monitor the environment and regulate gene expression, work that has implications for understanding cancer and other diseases. She has also been interested in deciphering the logic of signalling and transcriptional control, and in understanding the function and mechanism of oscillation of a three-protein circadian clock.  She will begin a new lab at HHMI's Janelia Research Campus in 2017 focused on neuronal cell biology.

    Erin is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Academy of Microbiology and has received numerous awards including the National Academy of Sciences Award in Molecular Biology and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation Fellowship.


  12. Fiona Powrie

    Fiona Powrie

    Fiona Powrie FRS, FMedSci is Professor of Musculoskeletal Sciences and Director of the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, a basic and translational inflammatory sciences centre at the University of Oxford. She gained a PhD in immunology from the University of Oxford and then moved to the DNAX Research Institute in Paulo Alto. She returned to the University of Oxford in 1996 and she was the Sidney Truelove Professor of Gastroenterology and Head of the Translational Gastroenterology Unit from 2009-2014.

    Fiona's research has identified the functional role of regulatory T cells in intestinal homeostasis and established the cytokine IL-23 as a therapeutic target in chronic intestinal inflammation. Her current interests include characterisation of the interaction between the intestinal microbiome and the host immune system and how this mutualistic relationship breaks down in inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis and cancer.

    Fiona received the Ita Askonas Award from the European Federation of Immunological Societies for her contribution to immunology in Europe and the Louis Jeantet Prize for Medicine in 2012. She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2011, EMBO in 2013 and the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2014.



  13. Harold Varmus

    Harold VarmusHarold Varmus, MD, co-recipient of the Nobel Prize for studies of the genetic basis of cancer, joined the Meyer Cancer Center of Weill Cornell Medicine as the Lewis Thomas University Professor of Medicine in April 2015. Prior to joining Meyer Cancer Center he was the Director of the National Cancer Institute for five years. He was also the President of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center for 10 years and Director of the National Institutes of Health for six years.  

    A graduate of Amherst College and Harvard University in English literature and Columbia University in Medicine, Harold trained at Columbia University Medical Center, the National Institutes of Health, and the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), before becoming a member of the UCSF basic science faculty for over two decades. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine and is involved in several initiatives to promote science and health in developing countries. He was a co-chair of President Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, a co-founder and Chairman of the Board of the Public Library of Science, and chair of the Scientific Board of the Gates Foundation Grand Challenges in Global Health.