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Professor James H Naismith FRSC FRSB FRS FRSE FMedSci MAE has become the new Head of Oxford’s Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences (MPLS) Division.

Photo of Professor Naismith inset into an image of the Radcliffe Camera

Prof Naismith said: ‘Sam Howison will be an impossible act to follow, he has been an exemplary leader and generous colleague. I am excited, nervous and 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.’

Prof Naismith grew up in Hamilton, Scotland, attending the local state schools, followed by Edinburgh and Manchester Universities. After a distinguished academic career at St Andrews, he arrived at the University of Oxford in 2017 as Professor of Structural Biology in the Nuffield Department of Medicine and Senior Research Fellow at Jesus College. He was seconded from Oxford to lead the Research Complex at Harwell from 2017 to 2019 and the Rosalind Franklin Institute (as interim co-Director and substantive Director) since its inception in 2018. He was part of the joint Oxford, Diamond and Franklin team that discovered nanobody treatment for COVID-19.

Prof Naismith 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.