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Baroness Blackwood appointed Chair of Genomics England

Baroness Nicola Blackwood has been appointed Chair of Genomics England, succeeding Baroness Dido Harding, who has served as Interim Chair since November 2019.

Genomics England was established in 2013 to deliver the 100,000 Genomes Project in partnership with the NHS and helped to cement the UK’s world-leading position in genomic science.  Following the successful sequencing of 100,000 whole genomes in December 2018, Baroness Blackwood will support Genomics England through its next phase of development, which will see it move from a project-based organisation to a sustainable government-owned company, with a mission to facilitate and expediate genomic research, and accelerate the transition to genomic healthcare.

Baroness Blackwood was a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care from January 2019 to February 2020 and previously served as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health from July 2016 until June 2017. She was elected as the Conservative MP for Oxford West and Abingdon in May 2010.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:

It’s a great pleasure to welcome Baroness Blackwood as the new Chair of Genomics England. Nicola brings huge experience to the role, including from her time as Life Sciences Minister, and I’m certain she will drive forward the crucial work already underway to better our understanding of the human code and the health benefits that can bring. I thank Baroness Dido Harding for the significant contribution she made to Genomics England, helping to spearhead the organisation as a world leader in genomic science.

 Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford, Chair of Genomics England, said:

I’m thrilled to accept the honour of becoming Genomics England’s Chair. This is a tremendously important time to be able to contribute to Life Sciences in this country. I truly believe that genomics will continue to transform healthcare, allowing us to build a sustainable healthcare system, delivering personalised and predictive care to everybody. I’m absolutely committed to supporting Genomics England as best I can, through the fight against COVID-19 and beyond.

 Chris Wigley, Chief Executive Officer of Genomics England, said:

I’m delighted to welcome Nicola to Genomics England.  Her wealth of experience in the public and private sectors – particularly her past role of Life Sciences Minister – will be invaluable to the Board, our many partners, participants, and all of our staff, as we strive to facilitate genomic research and to make genomic healthcare universally accessible. I am confident that, with Nicola’s support and guidance, Genomics England will play an ever-more significant role in the UK’s genomic healthcare ambition.

On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Dido for her outstanding contribution as Interim Chair of Genomics England. We have been extremely fortunate to have benefitted from her deep knowledge and broad expertise in leading the Genomics England Board.

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