James Naismith appointed as Head of MPLS

Tuesday 2nd May 2023, 9.35am

Professor James H Naismith FRSC FRSB FRS FRSE FMedSci MAE is to become the new Head of Oxford’s Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences (MPLS) Division.

Prof Naismith, who takes over from Prof Sam Howison in October 2023, will join MPLS in September from his role as director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute.

Prof Naismith said: ‘I am excited and also humbled to take up the post of Head of Division. By applying mathematical, physical, engineering and life sciences, we can help tackle the challenges that we face in the UK and in the world – educating the next generation, prosperity with net zero, antimicrobial resistance, climate adaptation, healthy living, biodiversity, and harnessing artificial intelligence and bioengineering advances to benefit all.

‘I want to pay tribute to Professor Sam Howison, whose hard work has laid the foundations upon which all success will be built.’

Prof Howison said: ‘I am delighted to welcome Jim Naismith as the next Head of MPLS. Jim has a wonderful record of achievement to bring to our division and I am confident that, with the support of our outstanding divisional team and departments, MPLS will thrive under his leadership.’

Professor Irene Tracey, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, said: ‘I am thrilled that we’ve been able to secure such an outstanding scientist and leader for this key post at the University.

‘The MPLS Division is a jewel in our crown and I have every confidence that Jim Naismith will lead it with integrity and vision onto yet greater things. On behalf of all my colleagues, I warmly welcome Jim to our community and I look forward to working closely with him in the coming years.’

Prof Naismith grew up in Hamilton, Scotland, attending the local state schools, followed by Edinburgh and Manchester Universities. After a distinguished academic career at St Andrews, he arrived at the University of Oxford in 2017 as Professor of Structural Biology in the Nuffield Department of Medicine and Senior Research Fellow at Jesus College. He was seconded from Oxford to lead the Research Complex at Harwell from 2017 to 2019 and the Rosalind Franklin Institute (as interim co-Director and substantive Director) since its inception in 2018. He was part of the joint Oxford, Diamond and Franklin team that discovered nanobody treatment for COVID-19.

Prof Naismith is also Vice-President (non-clinical) of The Academy of Medical Sciences and Vice-Chair of the Council of the European X-Ray Free-Electron Laser. His research focuses on the structural and chemical biology of enzymes and recognition complexes.