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Professor Edith Heard appointed new Director and Chief Executive of the Francis Crick Institute

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by Cancer Research UK | News

9 July 2024

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Professor Edith Heard at the Francis Crick Institute
Professor Edith Heard


The Francis Crick Institute has today announced the appointment of Professor Edith Heard as its new Director and Chief Executive.  

Professor Heard, who has led the European Molecular Biology Laboratory since 2019, is expected to take up the post in summer 2025.  

“I am delighted to be able to take up this position at one of the world’s premier scientific institutions,” said Heard.  

“The Francis Crick Institute has quickly established a global reputation for its work at the frontiers of science. I relish the challenge of building on that work.”  

We’d like to congratulate Professor Edith Heard on her appointment as Director and Chief Executive of the Francis Crick Institute. She will bring an incredible wealth of experience to the role, and we greatly look forward to working with her to continue the institute’s world-leading science.

- Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK

‘An excellent scientist and leader’

Heard succeeds the Crick’s founding Director and Chief Executive, Sir Paul Nurse, who will continue to maintain a laboratory at the Institute.  

“After over a decade at the helm of our Institute, I am proud of all who work here and the scientific excellence we have created together,” said Nurse.  

“The Crick is a special place, we are a home for some of the best life scientists in the world, carrying out high quality, discovery-based research and helping the UK to play a leading role in solving global health challenges.  

“I want to thank everyone who has helped make the Institute what it is today. Without your hard work and team effort, it would not have been possible. I am excited to retain my laboratory team at the Crick and continue pursuing my research.  

“The decision to step down from the Director role has been made much easier by knowing that in Professor Heard, the Institute has an excellent scientist and leader. I am completely confident that the Crick will continue to flourish under her leadership.” 

More research, less cancer

The Francis Crick Institute, which was established through the collaboration of six founding partners including Cancer Research UK, is purpose-built for discovery without boundaries. A place where more than 1,500 scientists from different disciplines work together to understand more about human health and disease.  

Huge wins so far include the success of the Cancer Research UK-funded TRACERx project, the world’s largest long-term lung cancer study, which has already revealed crucial links with air pollution and suggested that a simple blood test could predict cancer’s return. 

Cancer Research UK’s recently launched More Research, Less Cancer campaign will raise £400 million to  go toward 4 key areas of cancer research, one of which is powering life-changing discovery science at the Francis Crick Institute. 

“We’d like to congratulate Professor Edith Heard on her appointment as Director and Chief Executive of the Francis Crick Institute,” said Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK.  

“She will bring an incredible wealth of experience to the role, and we greatly look forward to working with her to continue the institute’s world-leading science. 

“We would also like to thank Sir Paul Nurse for the huge role he has played in establishing the Francis Crick Institute as a scientific organisation of global repute.  

“As the founding Director and Chief Executive, Paul has not only attracted some of the most brilliant, bold and creative scientists from the UK and around the world, but has also spearheaded some of the UK’s most ambitious ventures in discovery science – helping improve the treatment, diagnosis and prevention of human disease.  

“We’re delighted he will continue to lead his laboratory and cell cycle research.” 

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