Press release

Two new appointments to Wellcome board

Gabriel Leung, University of Hong Kong, and Arup K. Chakraborty, Massachusetts Institute for Technology, will join Wellcome's Board of Governors in May 2021.

Two leading scientists will join the board of Wellcome, the global health foundation announced today. 

Gabriel Leung is Dean of Medicine and Helen and Francis Zimmern Professor in Population Health at the University of Hong Kong (HKU). He is one of Asia’s leading epidemiologists, with extensive experience in viral epidemics. Gabriel served as Hong Kong’s first Under Secretary for Food and Health from 2008 to 11, and then as Director of the Hong Kong Chief Executive’s Office from 2011 to 2012. He returned to HKU, where he had previously completed his doctorate, as Head of Community Medicine in 2012, before being appointed Dean in 2013. 

Arup K. Chakraborty is the Robert T. Haslam Professor of Chemical Engineering, Physics, and Chemistry at Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT). He was the founding director of MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science. With a background in chemical engineering, his focus is on the intersection between immunology, physics and engineering, aiming to help develop better vaccines and therapies by examining the mechanisms underlying how the immune system responds to pathogens such as HIV or influenza. Arup’s interdisciplinary lab at MIT brings together computational studies rooted in statistical physics with clinical and experimental investigation. 

Wellcome recently launched a new strategy, focusing on discovery science alongside three urgent global health challenges – infectious diseases, mental health, and the health effects of global heating. Its endowment has doubled to over £29 billion in the past eight years, and it now spends over £1 billion a year on its mission to improve health through science. Wellcome’s board of governors oversee the charity’s strategic direction and provide support and challenge to its executive. 

The roles were openly advertised and Julia Gillard, who will take over as chair of Wellcome in April, was involved in the selection process. Arup and Gabriel are expected to take up their appointments at the start of May.  

Gabriel Leung said: "Once the world finally exits the acute phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ll be faced with many questions about what we want the future to look like. Putting everyone’s health at the heart of our thinking, underpinned by the best science, has to be part of the answer. I’m excited to be joining Wellcome to help bring that about."

Arup K. Chakraborty said: "My whole career has been spent trying to build collaboration across disciplines, so I was really drawn to Wellcome’s commitment to drawing on research from different fields to solve the world’s urgent health challenges. The last year has shown what great leaps forward we can make in science when we pool our time and energy, and I’m looking forward to helping Wellcome play its part in continuing this scientific cooperation in the future."

Eliza Manningham-Buller, Chair of Wellcome, said: "I’m delighted that Gabriel and Arup are joining Wellcome’s board. They are not only world-class scientists, but just as importantly, they are both highly committed to making sure the benefits of scientific discovery reach those who need them. 

"We had the challenge of choosing from a very strong list of candidates for these roles and I’d like to put on record my thanks to all those who applied." 

Julia Gillard said: "I’m very much looking forward to working with Arup and Gabriel along with the rest of Wellcome’s board. 

"The eyes of the world are on the incredible progress that science has made over the last year, and the hopes of us all rest on the continuing success of that science. But, as we’ve seen, science alone does not solve our problems. We also need deep international cooperation at every level. Wellcome will play our part in not only supporting science for health, but in working to ensure the benefits of science are available to all. It’s an honour to have Gabriel and Arup join us to help achieve that mission."

Notes to editors

Wellcome’s board this week approved a recommendation from its nominations and governance committee to appoint Arup and Gabriel. The roles were openly advertised, and shortlisted candidates were interviewed over two stages by Julia Gillard, Eliza Manningham-Buller, deputy chair Mike Ferguson and other board members. Subject to formalities, it is planned that Arup and Gabriel will take up their roles in May 2021.

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