An image showing Dame Ottoline Leyser

Source: © Sainsbury Laboratory Cambridge University

University of Cambridge’s Ottoline Leyser will lead UKRI from the end of June and manage its budget of over £7 billion

Plant developmental biologist Ottoline Leyser has been appointed chief executive of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), overseeing the organisation’s research funds of more than £7 billion.

UKRI oversees the country’s seven research councils, Innovate UK and Research England. Most of its funding comes from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. As head of UKRI, Leyser will implement the government’s plans to raise research funding to 2.4% of GDP over the next seven years.

‘As the new chief executive, Professor Leyser will drive forward UKRI’s mission to create the great British companies of the future and help keep the UK at the cutting edge of global research and development,’ said business secretary Alok Sharma, who appointed Leyser.

Leyser is director of the Sainsbury Laboratory at the University of Cambridge, working on understanding how plants’ hormones influence their development. In 2017, she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for services to plant science, science in society, and equality and diversity in science.

‘Professor Leyser has already led a highly collaborative lab in her previous role, which will be a great skill to bring to UKRI as it embarks on a new stage of exciting evolution,’ said science minister Amanda Solloway.

Leyser will replace the current chief executive, medical scientist Mark Walport, in late June.