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Reports

Report of the General Board on the establishment of a Herchel Smith Professorship of Molecular Genetics

The GENERAL BOARD beg leave to report to the University as follows:

1. In their Report on the establishment of a Herchel Smith Professorship of Pure Mathematics, the General Board informed the University that £14.315m of Dr Smith's benefaction was to be divided equally to support the full endowment of five Professorships. This includes one in the field of molecular genetics.

2. Within this field, stem cell research has assumed tremendous importance. This work is concerned with understanding mechanisms involved in the development of stem cells, including the maintenance of their pluripotent state, regulation of their proliferation, and their differentiation and interaction with their extracellular environment. Stem cell research is widely recognized as having substantial therapeutic potential, both for cell-based transplantation therapies and for interventions in endogenous processes of cellular regeneration. The success in sequencing the human genome has accelerated research in developmental, cellular, and molecular biology thereby focusing attention on stem cell research as a major post-genomic opportunity to extend knowledge of cellular function to the level of the whole organism. An understanding of basic mechanisms of stem cell self-renewal and differentiation is likely to have far-reaching impact on human cell biology in general, as well as in the treatment of a wide range of diseases.

3. Stem cell research has acquired additional importance for the University in the recent context of public policies and the availability of Government funding to extend UK leadership in the area of stem cell research. The University has strengths unparalleled within the UK in the areas of developmental, cellular, and molecular biology, protein structure and engineering, bioinformatics, neurobiology, and transplantation biology, all of which are integral to stem cell research. In view of this existing expertise, the University has made a major commitment to stem cell research and has given full support to the establishment of a Centre for Stem Cell Biology and Medicine, which is an interdisciplinary consortium bridging clinical and scientific programmes of work involving stem cell genetics, stem cell biology, and stem cell medicine on the Addenbrooke's and central Cambridge sites. To this end, £8.25m of the SRIF-2 funds received by the University have been allocated to support the refurbishment of the old Wellcome Trust/CR-UK Institute building on Tennis Court Road in order to house stem cell researchers in close proximity to those with expertise in the fields of bioinformatics and proteomics. A fund-raising programme to meet the training and specialist equipment needs of the Centre is under way.

4. The Faculty Board of Biology have advised the General Board of the need for a senior appointment in stem cell research to provide scientific leadership within the research programmes of the Centre and to head expansion of the University's expertise in this key area. The Faculty Board consider that, by stipulating that the first appointment be limited to those with expertise in stem cell research, the Herchel Smith benefaction provides an immediate opportunity to achieve this. The General Board have accepted this proposal and therefore recommend the establishment, from 1 October 2004, of a Herchel Smith Professorship of Molecular Genetics, to be assigned to a Department in the School of the Biological Sciences once the research interests of the person elected to the Professorship are known.

5. The Board are assured that, with the substantial level of support that the Herchel Smith benefaction will provide, the Professorship can be expected to attract an excellent field of candidates. Suitable accommodation will be available for the Professor in the refurbished building referred to above. The Board have agreed to concur in the view of the Faculty Board that election to the Professorship should be made by an ad hoc Board of Electors and that, on this occasion, candidature should be limited to persons whose work falls within the field of stem cell research.

6. The General Board recommend:

I. That a Herchel Smith Professorship of Molecular Genetics be established from 1 October 2004, placed in Schedule B of the Statutes, and assigned to a Department within the School of the Biological Sciences once the research interests of the person elected to the Professorship are known.

II. That regulations for the Herchel Smith Professorship of Molecular Genetics, as set out in the Schedule to this Report, be approved.

SCHEDULE

Herchel Smith Professor of Molecular Genetics

1. The sum received from the Trustees of the late Dr Herchel Smith for the establishment of a Professorship in some field or fields in Molecular Genetics shall form a fund called the Herchel Smith Molecular Genetics Fund.

2. The Managers of the Fund shall be three members appointed by the General Board on the recommendation of the Council of the School of the Biological Sciences, including the Herchel Smith Professor of Molecular Genetics and the Chairman of the Council of the School of the Biological Sciences.

3. The first charge on the income of the Fund shall be the stipend, national insurance, pension contributions, and associated indirect costs of the Professor payable by the University.

4. After provision has been made in accordance with Regulation 3, the Fund shall be applied for the support of teaching or research in some aspect of Molecular Genetics in such manner as shall be approved by the General Board on the recommendation of the Managers.

5. Any unexpended income in a financial year may in any subsequent year be expended in accordance with Regulation 4.

10 March 2004ALISON RICHARD, Vice-ChancellorH. A. CHASED. W. B. MACDONALD
 JOHN BELLJESSICA CHILDSROGER PARKER
 TOM BLUNDELLM. J. DAUNTONKEITH PETERS
 WILLIAM BROWNPETER LANDSHOFFS. J. YOUNG
 N. O. A. BULLOCK  


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Cambridge University Reporter 17 March 2004
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