Press release

Wellcome appoints Dr John-Arne Røttingen as Chief Executive Officer to lead its £16bn strategy to back science and build a healthier future

John-Arne Røttingen has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of Wellcome, the leading global charitable foundation and funder of science to solve the urgent health challenges facing everyone.

Dr Røttingen, 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.

Julia Gillard, Chair of Wellcome, said: “The Board of Governors and I are delighted that John-Arne has accepted our invitation to become the next Chief Executive Officer of Wellcome. John-Arne brings to the role a drive to maximise impact, an inclusive leadership style and an outstanding record in his research fields of epidemiology and global health.

“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. 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.

“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.”

Dr Røttingen 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.

John-Arne Røttingen said: “It will be a privilege to lead Wellcome. I have long admired its inspiring work to bring the potential of science and discovery to society to build a healthier future. Philanthropy has a critical role to play in catalysing and complementing public and private research spend to improve health globally. 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.”

Wellcome has committed to spending £16 billion on science over the decade to 2032, focusing its 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. Wellcome also operates Wellcome Collection, a free museum and library in London which explores health and human experience.

Notes to Editors 

About Wellcome
Wellcome supports science to solve the urgent health challenges facing everyone. We support discovery research into life, health and wellbeing, and we’re taking on three worldwide health challenges: mental health, infectious disease and climate and health.

Wellcome is self-funded. Our mission and £16bn commitment for science over the decade 2022 to 2032 is made possible through returns from our investment portfolio. Our investment portfolio has grown significantly in recent years to £38bn. In 2021/22 Wellcome’s charitable expenditure to support science was £1.4 billion. 

Dr Røttingen was appointed by a diverse panel, and from a diverse shortlist, following an open global search.

Paul Schreier was appointed interim Chief Executive Officer of Wellcome when Sir Jeremy Farrar stepped down as Director in February 2023. Dr Schreier will leave Wellcome following a transition period early in 2024 to pursue other opportunities at chief executive level, and will remain as Chair of the Wellcome Sanger Institute until further notice.

John-Arne Røttingen biography
John-Arne Røttingen was appointed Ambassador for Global Health at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Norway, in 2020. He was the founding CEO of CEPI – Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations; and has been the Chief Executive of the Research Council of Norway; Executive Director of Infection Control and Environmental Health at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health; founding Chief Executive of the Norwegian Knowledge Centre for the Health Services; Professor of Health Policy at the Department of Health Management and Health Economics, Institute of Health and Society, University of Oslo; and Adjunct Professor at the Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He is member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters and the US National Academy of Medicine.

He received his MD and PhD from the University of Oslo, an MSc from Oxford University and an MPA from Harvard University. His research has spanned basic science, epidemiology, clinical trials, health services research and global health policy, governance and financing. He has led the steering groups for the Ebola vaccine trial in Guinea and the COVID-19 WHO Solidarity Trial, and the Lancet Series on access and sustainable effectiveness of antimicrobials in the lead up to the UNGA high level meeting on AMR in 2016. He has co-authored more than 150 peer-reviewed publications.

He has held many national and international board and advisory board roles, including board member of Science Europe and chair of the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research, and is currently board member of Gavi The Vaccine Alliance, PATH, Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (GARDP) and Medicines Patent Pool (MPP). He has served on expert and advisory bodies at WHO and in global health including more recently as chair of the ACT-Accelerator Financial and Resource Mobilization Working Group and the G20 High Level Independent Panel on Financing the Global Commons for Pandemic Preparedness and Response. He currently serves on the Standing Committee on Science of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and on the Science and Research Committee of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and is co-chair of the Future of Global Health Initiatives.

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