Tim Hubbard to be new ELIXIR Director

The ELIXIR Board has appointed Tim Hubbard as the next ELIXIR Director. Tim brings a wealth of scientific, technical and management experience and is currently Professor of Bioinformatics in the Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics at King’s College London, Senior Advisor at Genomics England and Associate Director of the London region of Health Data Research UK (HDR UK).

Ferran Sanz, Chair of the ELIXIR Board said, “On behalf of the ELIXIR Board and the Director Search Committee, I am delighted Tim has accepted our offer of ELIXIR Director. The Director search was a thorough process, involving representatives from across ELIXIR. We look forward to working with Tim to extend ELIXIR’s impact and excellence as a European research infrastructure in life science data”.

Since 2013, Tim has been seconded to Genomics England, the company set up by the UK Department of Health to execute the 100,000 genomes project. Genomics England has enabled the use of whole genome sequence analysis in normal patient care using a Trusted Research Environment (TRE) approach where data is analysed in place to protect patient privacy and provide transparency. Tim has led TRE policy work at HDR UK, the national institute for health data science set up in 2018 to unite UK’s health and care data and a member of ELIXIR UK. The TRE approach has recently been adopted as policy by NHS England.

Until 2013, Tim was Head of Informatics at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute where he was one of the organisers of the sequencing of the human genome. In 1999 he co-founded the Ensembl project to analyse, organise and provide access to the human genome and from 2007 led the GENCODE project to annotate the structure of all human genes.

Tim studied biochemistry at the University of Cambridge, followed by a PhD in protein design at the Department of Crystallography, Birkbeck College, University of London and a postdoctoral fellowships at the Protein Engineering Research Institute in Osaka under the EU scientific training program in Japan and MRC Centre, Cambridge.

Commenting on the appointment, Tim said, “I am honoured to be appointed as ELIXIR Director and look forward to joining the vibrant community that has been built up during Niklas’ leadership. It is an exciting time to be joining European-wide initiatives in molecular data, software and services, with the developments of the European Health Data Space, and of course the fast-moving opportunities of artificial intelligence.” Tim will retain an affiliation with King’s College London, also a member of the UK Node of ELIXIR, to complete supervision of a project in collaboration with Genomics England.

Professor Mathias Gautel, Head of School, Basic and Medical Biosciences, King’s College London, commented, “We are very proud of Tim’s appointment as the next Director of ELIXIR. Tim has been a valued colleague to many in the School of Basic and Medical Biosciences and will bring a breadth of knowledge and experience to this role. We wish Tim all the best for this new appointment and look forward to his continued work and affiliation with King’s College London.

Professor Matt Brown, Chief Scientific Officer, Genomics England, said, “Tim has been an extremely valued Genomic England team member for the past decade, and we are confident will be a real asset to ELIXIR going forward.  We look forward to continuing to engage with Tim in his new role.

Tim will take up his position in March 2024. From today, 1 December, until the end of May 2024, Andy Smith, ELIXIR’s Head of External Relations, will also act as ELIXIR Interim Director. Andy said, “I am delighted that Tim will be bringing his experience and knowledge of bioinformatics to ELIXIR. I am honoured to be appointed as Interim Director and look forward to supporting Tim’s introduction to ELIXIR and the implementation of ELIXIR’s Scientific Programme 2024-28”.

Tim replaces ELIXIR’s founding Director, Niklas Blomberg, who starts as Executive Director of the Innovative Health Initiative in January. Niklas said, “It has been a privilege to lead ELIXIR and I am incredibly pleased to hand over to Tim, who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in genomics and health, open data, and in running large international collaborations. It is a great appointment for ELIXIR and I would like to thank the members of the Director Search Committee for their commitment in overseeing a successful search and appointment with such ambitious timelines.

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