Mark Walport retired as Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation in 2020. UKRI was created in response to Sir Paul Nurse's review of the Research Councils published in 2015. Mark took up the role in April 2017 and led the creation and implementation of the organisation for its first three years. He has held several distinguished senior positions of influence in research in the United Kingdom. During Mark's tenure as Director of the Wellcome Trust he supported and oversaw a number of developments, including the UK-Biobank project, the completion of the Diamond Synchrotron, the launch of the popular public Wellcome Collection and major international partnerships, such as the Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance. From 2013 to 2017 he was Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government, Permanent Secretary and Head of the Government Office for Science, and Co-Chair of the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology.
Earlier in his career he made key contributions to understanding the role in lupus of the 'complement' system. Mark found that deficiencies in complement — normally a protective immune response — were important in conferring susceptibility to the autoimmune disease. In people affected by lupus, the immune system attacks their own tissues, and it was known that activation of the complement pathway was part of the disease process. Studying a handful of lupus patients with hereditary disruption to the complement system, Mark revealed the complex role of the complement pathway in this disease.
Interest and expertise
Biochemistry and molecular cell biology
Microbiology, immunology and developmental biology
Cellular and humoral immunology, Cellular pathology, Genetics (excluding population genetics)
Health and human sciences
Medicine, clinical studies, Molecular medicine
History of science, Public understanding of science, Science education at secondary level, Science policy, Scientific information provision, Publications