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Professor James H Naismith will be the new Head of Oxford’s Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division, taking over from Prof Sam Howison in October 2023.

After a distinguished academic career at the University of St Andrews, Prof Naismith arrived at the University of Oxford in 2017 as a Professor of Structural Biology in NDM’s Division of Structural Biology and Senior Research Fellow at Jesus College. He was seconded from Oxford to lead the Research Complex at Harwell from 2017 to 2019 and has been the director at the Rosalind Franklin Institute since its inception in 2018. He was part of the joint Oxford, Diamond and Franklin team that discovered nanobody treatment for COVID-19.

He 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.

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.’