Sir Patrick Vallance to become chair of Natural History Museum

Government adviser, who says museum ‘inspired me to pursue a career in science’, will take on role in 2023

The government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, is to become the next chair of the Natural History Museum, a position he is understood to be taking on in addition to his current roles.

Vallance has been a key figure in informing the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, most notably around understanding the risks and mitigation of the virus and prioritising vaccine development. He said he had loved the museum since he was a young boy.

He is expected to join its board of trustees in October and become its non-executive chairman in early 2023, taking over from Lord Stephen Green.

He said: “I have loved the museum since first visiting as a young child. It inspired me to pursue a career in science and continues to inspire wonder in visitors of all ages as well as being a world-leading scientific research institute.

“I am hugely looking forward to the opportunity to contribute to its continuing success.”

The Natural History Museum is based in South Kensington, London and has another site at Tring in Hertfordshire.

Dr Douglas Gurr, director of the museum, said: “The Natural History Museum is well known as a much loved visitor attraction but is also a world-leading scientific research centre working on solutions for the planetary emergency – from biodiversity loss to climate change.

“We are thrilled that Sir Patrick will be joining to drive forward our mission of creating advocates for the planet and building a world in which both people and planet can thrive.”

The appointment was made by the board of trustees of the Natural History Museum, and endorsed by Boris Johnson and the culture secretary, Nadine Dorries.

Dorries said Vallance had been “an extraordinary, dedicated servant to the nation during the coronavirus pandemic”, adding that he would bring a wealth of experience to “help the museum take its important work forward and inspire more people from all backgrounds to pursue an interest in natural history”.

Vallance was the chief scientific adviser to the Cop26 climate summit, and leads the Net Zero Innovation Board, which supports the drive to cut emissions to zero overall by 2050.

He previously headed research and development at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and before that was a clinical academic, professor of medicine, and led the division of medicine at UCL. He has also been a consultant physician in the NHS.


Nadia Khomami

The GuardianTramp

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