Search for the next WCMR Director

Earlier this week, the Wellcome Centre for Mitochondrial Research (WCMR) at Newcastle University announced its search to appoint a new Director as successor to Professor Sir Doug Turnbull.  This is an exciting time for the internationally renowned Centre, which prides itself on performing high quality research aimed at improving the lives of those affected by mitochondrial disease.  Pivotal to this success is the strong link between the outstanding clinical care we offer, the research undertaken within the Centre and our long-standing commitment to involve our patients in this research.

Prof Sir Doug’s decision to stand down as the Centre Director follows the announcement earlier this year that he would be taking a step back from the clinic after 35 years of looking after patients with mitochondrial disease.  His remarkable career has combined both exceptional clinical care with world-class mitochondrial research and reflects his dedication to help those living with the condition.  This has not gone unrecognised and has led to a number of fantastic accolades over the years, including a knighthood in 2016 and a Fellowship to the Royal Society in 2019.

Professor Robert Lightowlers, Director of the Institute of Cell and Molecular Biosciences at Newcastle University and co-founder of the Mitochondrial Research Group with Prof Turnbull back in 1990, has a central role in appointing the next Director.  He is keen to emphasise that any applicant needs to have an exceptional research background and that this could be in any area of basic, translational or clinical mitochondrial biology

Prof Lightowlers said “These are very big shoes indeed to fill, but Professor Sir Doug has reluctantly decided it is time to step aside. Like all successful leaders, Doug is leaving the Centre at a high point, with the most wonderful set of young and experienced researchers and clinicians waiting to welcome a new Director. It is a spectacular opportunity for the right person with a vision to lead the Centre to even greater success in the future”.

It is important to stress that the appointment of a new Director will have no impact on the clinical care of patients seen in Newcastle as part of the NHS Highly Specialised Service for Rare Mitochondrial Disorders. Professor Bobby McFarland has taken over as the national director for the service and will continue to work as part of the fantastic team made up of doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, speech and language therapists and medical secretaries.  Furthermore, the NHS have committed additional funding to the service to strengthen the clinical team and to retain the highest quality of service for patients affected by mitochondrial disease who are seen in the clinic.

Prof McFarland said “One of the most significant of Prof Sir Doug’s many great achievements has been the establishment of a NHS funded highly specialised service for patients with mitochondrial disease. This clinical and diagnostic service has been fundamental to the development of the research environment in the Wellcome Centre, allowing us to deliver world-leading science and first-rate clinical care for patients. It is a privilege to be taking on the leadership of this wonderful service from Sir Doug and I look forward to continuing its future development ”.

For more information or to apply for the position of Director of the Wellcome Centre for Mitochondrial Research, click here: