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Prior to joining the GW4 Alliance, Dr Joanna Jenkinson was the Head of Infection and Immunity at the Medical Research Council (MRC), where she had overall responsibility for the research portfolio and for managing the Infections and Immunity Board and its investments, including the Units and Centres. Last year she also led the UKRI/DHSC/NIHR rapid response and rolling calls for COVID-19 research. Jo joined the MRC in 2008 and has held a range of roles including Head of Capacity and Skills, with responsibility for all MRC PhD and fellowships schemes. In this role, she also led on the development of the UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship scheme and developed the evidence and business case for this scheme, which secured an additional £900m for UKRI from the UK Government Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. She also led the MRC’s mental health and addiction portfolio and wrote the MRC’s 2017 Mental Health Strategy.

Dr Jenkinson received a PhD in fungal genetics from the University of Exeter, and undertook her Defra-funded, postdoctoral work on the evaluation of the field scale trials of GM crops. Before joining the MRC she worked at the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, initially for the Plant and Microbial Sciences Committee and then the Sustainable Agriculture Strategy Panel.  

Dr Jo Jenkinson said: “I am delighted to be joining the GW4 Alliance, especially at such an interesting and critical time for higher education and regional initiatives. GW4 has a fantastic track record of delivering pioneering collaborative research and innovation, and creating the research leaders of the future. I look forward to working with colleagues across our institutions to build on this success, and cultivating new and existing partnerships to harness our collective strengths. Together we can respond to complex and pressing global challenges, including the environment crisis, accelerating to net zero emissions, and the pandemic of antimicrobial resistance.”

Professor Jonathan Knight, Chair of GW4 Board and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the University of Bath said: “We are thrilled to announce the appointment of Dr Jo Jenkinson as Director of the GW4 Alliance. Jo brings a wealth of experience and expertise in delivering research strategies and securing major funding bids. At a time of major challenge and opportunity in higher education and research organisations, we look forward to Jo’s leadership to help us drive innovation and harness the industrial and research strengths of our region, benefiting the economy and society at a local and global scale, and demonstrating that collaboration is at the heart of research discovery and impact.”

The GW4 Alliance brings together four of the most research-intensive and innovative universities in the UK: Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter. Jo joins at an exciting and successful time for the Alliance – with its return on investment in collaborative research communities is at its highest level since the GW4 Alliance was formally launched in 2014.

To date the GW4 Alliance has invested over £3.1m in 112 collaborative research communities, which have generated nearly £50m in research income. This means that for every £1 GW4 spends on collaborative research communities, GW4 captures an impressive £16 in external research awards.

Working with other organisations, industry, and society, GW4 aims to enhance research collaboration; address global, societal, and industrial challenges; and inform policy at national and international levels. GW4 has earned an international reputation for delivering pioneering research and high-quality doctoral training, with GW4 institutions currently hosting over 30 externally funded Doctoral Training Centres and Partnerships.

Our research communities encompass a variety of research areas and have developed partnerships with over 200 external partners to undertake pioneering work, from Alzheimer’s diagnosis and treatment to producing biofuels from algae. The collective impact of GW4 has developed flagship communities of research excellence such as the GW4 Water Security Alliance – one of the largest water research consortia in the world and GW4 Isambard, the world’s first Arm-based supercomputer to go into production use. Our collaborative research strength has influenced national policy, developed world-class facilities, and provided the foundations for major research programmes tackling global challenges.

University of Bath
University of Bristol
Cardiff University
University of Exeter