Major research institution at University of Oxford gets new director

Professor Peter Donnelly FRS, one of the UK's leading statisticians and geneticists, today becomes the new Director of The Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics (WTCHG) at the University of Oxford.

The WTCHG is one of the leading human genetics research centres in the world, perhaps best known for the identification of genes involved in asthma, language impairment, dyslexia, learning disabilities, infectious disease and diabetes. The WTCHG also participated in the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium (WTCCC), the largest ever study of the genetics of common disease, which recently attracted considerable interest when it announced the discovery of almost 20 new genes involved in human health, including obesity and diabetes. The Chairman of the Consortium, Professor Peter Donnelly, comes to the WTCHG as its new Director from the University of Oxford's Department of Statistics, where he is Professor of Statistical Science.

Director of the Wellcome Trust, Dr Mark Walport, said: "Peter Donnelly is an outstanding statistical geneticist. His leadership of the Consortium has shown that he has the strength and vision to direct the WTCHG at an extremely exciting time for human genetic research".

Professor Donnelly replaces Professor Anthony Monaco, who was the WTCHG's Director from 1998. During his time as Director, Professor Monaco led the WTCHG from primarily human genetic research to expand into biological areas, in a multidisciplinary approach to human disease. The size of the WTCHG doubled and became an international leader in understanding the biological basis of common human disease. It seems only natural that Professor Donnelly be chosen as his successor.

Much of Professor Donnelly's work involves the development of mathematical models and statistical methods in studying genetics. He has been heavily involved in the 'HapMap' project, the successor to the human genome project, which studies patterns of variation in human populations. He has also been involved in developing statistical tools, which are widely used in population, conservation, human genetics and ecological studies.

Professor Donnelly said: "I am very enthusiastic about this position and having the opportunity to be involved in one of the leading human genetics research centres in the world, particularly at a time of much promise for human genetics and its impact on human health and disease."

Professor Monaco is now Pro-Vice-Chancellor in charge of planning and resources at the University of Oxford. He continues his research programme at the WTCHG into the genetics of neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism, language impairment and dyslexia.


Oxford Mail, 3 October