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Q&A: Leszek Borysiewicz

The new head of the UK's Medical Research Council discusses the challenges ahead

Stephen Pincock
When Leszek Borysiewicz was named as the new head of Britain's troubled Medical Research Council last week, commentators told us he faced "enormous" challenges in restoring confidence within and without the organization. Borysiewicz spoke with Stephen Pincock about his views on what some of those challenges were, and how he intends to tackle them.You've arrived at MRC at an interesting juncture. What do you see as your immediate priorities?Obviously it's early days. But there are some fairly obvious issues that are of importance. Clearly the first of these is how do you actually maintain the breadth of the spectrum of the research that the MRC has to cover here in the UK?At one end we have the hugely important basic research programs that provide the underpinning for the future direction of translation. But also, through the Cooksey Report and elsewhere, there has been an important pressure to develop...
There are deep concerns being voiced among the scientific community in the UK about the MRC moving away from basic research. What do you say to the people who voice such concerns?In a practical sense how do you do that, funding-wise?On to the National Institute for Medical Research — how are negotiations proceeding for a new site for the NIMR?Can you confirm that the site behind Kings Cross is one that is under consideration?Some commentators have suggested you will need to address a crisis of confidence and cohesion within the MRC. Do you feel that is something you are going to have to come to terms with?How do you go about re-instilling that sense of confident pride within the people who work for the MRC?Some observers have noted the great deal of political work that needs to be done in the role you're in. Is that something you feel equipped to handle? Coming from the academic environment do you think that is something you are going to enjoy?Four years from now...what sort of organization would you like MRC to be?mail@the-scientist.comThe Scientisthttp://www.the-scientist.com/news/home/53663/The Scientisthttp://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/53454/http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/The Scientisthttp://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/22600/

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