John-Arne, a medical scientist, public health official, diplomat and research administrator, will take up the post in January 2024. Currently Ambassador for Global Health at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in his native Norway, he succeeds Sir Jeremy Farrar as head of Wellcome.
John-Arne has previously worked closely with Wellcome in multiple roles, including as founding CEO of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI), which Wellcome helped to launch in 2017, and as CEO of the Research Council of Norway, where he worked with Wellcome and European funders to accelerate open access to research publishing.
He began his career in basic discovery research, focusing on cellular calcium signalling, and trained as a medical doctor before transitioning to infectious disease epidemiology and global health.
“The Board of Governors and I are delighted that John-Arne has accepted our invitation to become the next Chief Executive Officer of Wellcome,” says Julia Gillard, Chair of Wellcome.
“I would like to extend the Board’s thanks to Paul Schreier, who has led Wellcome with great skill since Jeremy Farrar’s departure, and will continue to serve as interim Chief Executive Officer until the end of a handover period after John-Arne joins Wellcome in early 2024,” adds Julia.
Building a healthier future for everyone
Wellcome believes in the power of science to build a healthier future for everyone, and that science delivers the greatest change through collaborative action across society.
“John-Arne’s career and experience exemplify these beliefs,” says Julia.
“He has built a reputation as one of the world’s most effective and respected figures at the interface between science and advocacy at the highest global levels.”
“It will be a privilege to lead Wellcome,” says John-Arne. “I have long admired its inspiring work to bring the potential of science and discovery to society to build a healthier future.”
A critical role for charitable foundations
Wellcome plans to spend £16 billion on science over the decade to 2032.
We’re focusing our research spend and advocacy on four programmes: supporting discovery research, and science-based solutions to tackle the most urgent health challenges of our time, mental health, infectious disease and the health impacts of climate crisis.
“Philanthropy has a critical role to play in catalysing and complementing public and private research spend to improve health globally,” adds John-Arne.
“I know well from my own experience the power of the support Wellcome gives science and scientists, backing basic research and ensuring transformative research achieves impact in the world.
“I’m honoured to have the opportunity to take forward Wellcome’s mission and, together with my colleagues and the talented global research community, bring science to bear on the most urgent health challenges we all face.”
Read our press release for more detail on the appointment and a biography of John-Arne Røttingen.