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Jonathan Symonds appointed new Chair of Genomics England

John Symonds (left) and Sir John Chisholm (right)

Jonathan Symonds CBE is to be appointed the new Chair of Genomics England. Following the success of the 100,000 Genomes Project, Genomics England announces that its Chair, Sir John Chisholm will step down on 29 January 2019. Sir John, who has led the company since its inception in 2013, indicated his decision to leave to the Board once Genomics England realised its 5 year ambition to sequence 100,000 whole genomes in early December.

Jonathan Symonds has more than 30 years’ experience across a spectrum of life science enterprises. As Senior Non-Executive Director on the Genomics England Board, he has been part of Genomics England since 2014 and increasingly engaged in the oversight of Genomics England’s forward plans.

The Chief Executive of Genomics England, Professor John Mattick is to leave the company following his successful work on crafting the recently announced UK genomics vision. Genomics England’s Chief Scientist, Professor Mark Caulfield has agreed to act as interim Chief Executive. The search for a permanent appointment will begin next week.

The incoming chair of Genomics England, Jonathan Symonds said:

“Sir John Chisholm’s accomplishment has been extraordinary. His skill and visionary leadership have enabled the UK to become the leader of global efforts to harness the potential of genomic science and healthcare and to realise the potential of personalised medicine. He has worked closely with partners across the NHS, academia, and industry to create an extraordinary infrastructure for genomic research and health.

“Professor John Mattick is a formidable scientist who has argued passionately that genomic medicine can transform medical research and healthcare and has helped us build an ambitious vision for the role genomics can play in the future of healthcare. We would like to thank John for the contribution he has made to Genomics England and we wish him well for the future.

“As we look to the next phase of Genomics England, in partnership with the NHS, to deliver genomics based diagnostics in clinical care, I’m delighted to announce that Professor Mark Caulfield, who as chief scientist directed much of the work of the 100,000 Genomes Project, will act as our interim CEO. Mark will head Genomics England as we rise to the challenge of speeding up diagnosis and personalised treatments through the NHS with the Genomic Medicine Service and keep the UK at the leading edge of genomic medicine and science.”

Jonathan Symonds added:

“I am delighted to accept the honour of becoming Genomics England’s Chair. Sir John’s shoes will be hard to fill.  We have an exciting challenge ahead in partnership with the NHS, as we continue our efforts to prevent disease, unlock new treatments, improve and accelerate diagnosis and to help patients receive the best care tailored to their needs.”

Sir John Chisholm said:

“I am so proud and pleased with the extraordinary achievement of realising our ambition of sequencing 100,000 whole genomes within the NHS. And this felt like the right time for me to move on. It was an unprecedented team effort involving thousands of researchers, clinicians and others across the NHS, academia, industry, and beyond. Most especially thanks to the generosity of more than 93,000 NHS patients and their family members who continue to put their faith in Genomics England as the work to push back the boundaries of genomic science and healthcare goes on.”

 The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock MP said:

 “We should all be incredibly excited about the potential for genomics to improve the lives of patients and transform healthcare – and I’m proud that the UK is leading the world in this area. Sir John Chisholm has been paramount in the success of the 100,000 Genomes Project and I want to thank him for his inspiration and hard work. I welcome Jonathan Symonds CBE to drive forward the next stage of British global leadership in genomics and look forward to working with him to deliver our commitment to sequence one million whole genomes over the next five years – helping improve peoples’ lives.”

Lord David Prior, the Chair of NHS England said:

“The delivery of the 100,000 genomes project within a working health system is an achievement which is viewed in awe all over the world. It was only possible due to the close partnership between Genomics England and NHS England. We have in Jonathan Symonds an enormously accomplished Chair to take over from Sir John Chisholm. I look forward to working with him and Professor Caulfield to tackle the delivery of even more benefit for patients, science and industry from the next 5 year vision. This is almost certainly the biggest breakthrough in clinical practice in my life time, it makes predictive and personalised medicine a reality.”

Professor John Mattick said:

“I am very sorry to be leaving Genomics England at this time. Genomics England has an exciting future through its partnership with NHS England to deliver personalised medicine, and fuel innovation and investment in genomic medicine. I am pleased with the contribution I was able to make in developing the vision for the next 5 years that the Secretary of State announced in October, and in laying out a plan to achieve this vision. I wish Professor Mark Caulfield and all the staff at Genomics England well with their future endeavours.”

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