Earlham Institute appoints new Chair of Board of Trustees

16 May 2022
Outside the entrance of the Earlham Institute building on the Norwich Research Park

The Earlham Institute has appointed Professor Peter Holland as its new Chair of the Board of Trustees.

Professor Holland, who has been a member of the Institute’s Board since June 2019, took over from Professor Dame Janet Thornton, who left the post in March 2022.

The Earlham Institute is led by the Board of Trustee Directors, which comprises experienced individuals with backgrounds in science, finance, legal and commercial areas relevant to the Institute’s work. The Board is supported by the Director, Executive and the Senior Management Team.

Prof Pete Holland

Professor Neil Hall, Director of the Earlham Institute, said: “We’re delighted to have Peter’s vision and leadership as our new Chair of the Board. He brings a wealth of experience and, together with the other Board members, will help the Earlham Institute deliver against its ambitious new strategy.

“We also want to pay tribute to Professor Dame Janet Thornton, who has helped the Institute to successfully navigate through many changes during her tenure. She has overseen our work as a national facility to promote the use of genomics to advance bioscience research and innovation in the UK and put us in a strong position for the future.”

Professor Holland is the Linacre Professor of Zoology at the University of Oxford, having previously held posts at the University of Reading and University of Oxford. His research interests centre on comparative genomics and evolutionary developmental biology, with a focus on complex gene superclasses. He also maintains a strong commitment to the development of early career researchers and public engagement with science. 

He was elected FRS in 2003 and has received awards from the Genetics Society, Zoological Society, Linnean Society, St Petersburg Society of Naturalists, and de Snoo Foundation.

Professor Peter Holland said: “Biology is in the grip of data avalanche, particularly in the field genomics. The Earlham Institute is pushing back the frontiers in how we, as scientists and in society, should best gather, organise, interpret and use this wealth of data. I look forward to exciting times ahead.”

Professor Melanie Welham, Executive Chair of the UKRI Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, said: “Janet has made a huge contribution during her time as Chair of the Earlham Institute’s Board of Trustees, I have enjoyed working with her immensely and would like to thank her on behalf of everyone at BBSRC. 

“I am delighted to welcome Peter as the new Chair. He brings a wealth of experience in genomic research, which is highly relevant to the focus on the Institute, and I am confident he will build on Janet’s legacy.”

Professor Dame Janet Thornton, who served as the Earlham Institute’s Chair of the Board of Trustees from June 2017 to March 2022, said: “I have much enjoyed my tenure on the Board of the Earlham Institute, watching it develop a mature vision and strategy over the last 6 years. 

“I wish Neil [Hall], Sarah [Cossey, Director of Operations], and all members of staff continued success in the future. I am particularly happy that Peter Holland has taken over as Chair and am totally confident that he and the Board will oversee and advise the institute with wisdom and clarity in the coming years.”

Notes to editors.

Details of the Earlham Institute Board of Trustees can be found at: https://www.earlham.ac.uk/governance


For more information, please contact:

Greg Bowker

Head of Communications, Earlham Institute (EI)

+44 (0)1603 450 895 / greg.bowker@earlham.ac.uk


About the Earlham Institute

The Earlham Institute (EI) is a world-leading research institute focusing on the development of genomics and computational biology. EI is based within the Norwich Research Park and is one of eight institutes that receive strategic funding from Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council (BBSRC) - £6.45M in 2015/2016 - as well as support from other research funders. EI operates a National Capability to promote the application of genomics and bioinformatics to advance bioscience research and innovation.

EI offers a state of the art DNA sequencing facility, unique by its operation of multiple complementary technologies for data generation. The Institute is a UK hub for innovative bioinformatics through research, analysis and interpretation of multiple, complex data sets. It hosts one of the largest computing hardware facilities dedicated to life science research in Europe. It is also actively involved in developing novel platforms to provide access to computational tools and processing capacity for multiple academic and industrial users and promoting applications of computational Bioscience. Additionally, the Institute offers a training programme through courses and workshops, and an outreach programme targeting key stakeholders, and wider public audiences through dialogue and science communication activities.