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Mark Walport to take over as chief scientific adviser

The Wellcome Trust’s director, Mark Walport, will replace John Beddington as the government’s chief scientific adviser, the Cabinet Office has announced.

Walport, a professor of medicine, has been the director of the Wellcome Trust since 2003. He previously headed the Division of Medicine at Imperial College London and has served on the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology since 2004.

He will step down as Wellcome Trust director early next year to start his new job in April.

Beddington was appointed as CSA in January 2008. He has advised the government on issues such as the 2009 swine flu outbreak, the 2010 Icelandic volcanic ash cloud, and the 2011 nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan.

Beddington is a professor of applied population biology and has been the head of the Department of Environmental Science and Technology at Imperial College London.

“Science, engineering and technology have transformed the infrastructure of the modern world, and have a vital role to play at the heart of policy making. They are critical both to economic recovery and growth, and to addressing many of the greatest challenges of our time, such as environmental change and the ageing population,” said Walport in a statement.

“I look forward to working with colleagues both inside and outside government to ensure that the best possible advice can be provided from the most expert sources, based on the strongest evidence, to facilitate the wisest possible policy decisions.”