Paul Schreier, Wellcome’s Chief Operating Officer, has been appointed interim Chief Executive Officer of the global charitable foundation, with effect from 25 February 2023.
Julia Gillard Chair of Wellcome said: “Jeremy’s leadership and insight have seen Wellcome achieve remarkable growth, realising ambitions in science and health on a scale not previously possible. His vision has enabled Wellcome’s bold £16 billion strategy for the next decade, supporting scientific discovery and solutions to tackle the greatest health threats facing us all – mental health, escalating infectious disease and the health impacts of the climate crisis.
“The Board and I thank Jeremy for his outstanding contribution to Wellcome and our mission to improve health and save lives around the world. We are delighted that the global health and science community will continue to benefit from his expertise and wisdom in his new role at the World Health Organization.”
Dr Farrar’s second five-year term leading Wellcome is due to end in 2023. Wellcome’s Board have been planning the transition for some time, and a global search for a permanent CEO began earlier this year.
Since Dr Farrar joined Wellcome in 2013, the charitable foundation’s annual spending on its mission has almost doubled, rising from £726 million to around £1.6 billion in the next financial year, and its endowment from £15 billion to £38 billion.
Thanks to this growth, in 2020, Wellcome launched an ambitious new strategy - funding discovery research projects to transform understanding of life, health and wellbeing, and supporting science-based solutions to address three of the most urgent health challenges facing us all, infectious disease, mental health problems, and the effects of climate change on health.
Wellcome’s Board of Governors has pledged to spend £16 billion on implementing this strategy and realising its potential over the next decade.
Under Dr Farrar’s leadership Wellcome has taken an increasingly global outlook and role in advancing science to improve health.
This has included Wellcome driving global preparedness against infectious disease; development of the first Ebola vaccines; establishing CEPI, the epidemic vaccines coalition; accelerating antibiotic discovery and action against drug-resistant infections; bringing focus to the health crises caused by climate breakdown; and finding better ways to address mental health challenges holding millions of people back.
Wellcome has also continued to grow its funding of ambitious, curiosity-driven research, pioneering discoveries such as Peter Ratcliffe’s work on fundamental cell processes, paving the way for new treatments for a range of disorders, which was honoured with the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2019.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr Farrar led Wellcome’s work to advocate for rapid investment in research on testing, treatments and vaccines, and to ensure that everyone, everywhere benefits equitably from these advances. He was a participant of the UK Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), and member of the Principals Group of the WHO’s ACT-Accelerator.
Wellcome has embraced fresh approaches to achieving its mission under Dr Farrar’s leadership, with the establishment of an office in Berlin, and the foundation in 2020 of Wellcome Leap, to build unconventional programmes and fund them at scale, with the goal of achieving breakthrough scientific and technological solutions within five to ten years.
Throughout his time at Wellcome, Dr Farrar has championed the unique role of Wellcome and Wellcome Collection to promote science, but also to bring wider understanding of the diverse experiences of health, to challenge inequities, and advance change ensuring impact on people’s lives globally.
Dr Jeremy Farrar said: “In the decade since I joined Wellcome, the world has seen incredible change. We are living through fragile and uncertain times, with huge inequities to address. But we have also seen breath-taking and life-changing advances in science and health, and achieved critical progress in the global collaboration that makes sure these are brought to bear for the most benefit for the maximum number of people. Wellcome has played no small part in this. I leave taking with me enormous pride in what we have achieved together - and do so knowing Wellcome’s mission to improve health has never been more focused in the hands of the amazing teams that make Wellcome what it is today.”
Paul Schreier joined Wellcome in 2019 from the business consultancy Hakluyt & Company, where he was CEO. He previously served as Deputy Vice-Chancellor and COO of Macquarie University in Australia and senior advisor to the Australian Prime Minister and Cabinet. He will be Wellcome’s interim CEO until a permanent successor to Dr Farrar is appointed and able to begin.
Paul Schreier said: “Wellcome has been on an extraordinary journey of growth and achievement, bringing global research funding, innovation, advocacy and partnership across academia, industry and government together to ensure science realises its potential for the benefit of people and communities globally.
“We congratulate Jeremy on his new appointment and thank him for the legacy and vision which Wellcome will continue to take forward, with a clear focus on support for discovery research and science to solve the urgent health challenges facing us all.”