The director of research charity the Wellcome Trust Sir Mark Walport has been appointed chief scientific adviser to the UK government.
Taking up his new post in April, 2013, Sir Mark will replace Sir John Beddington in providing advice directly to Prime Minister David Cameron and the cabinet concerning scientific issues.
“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,” said Sir Mark.
"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.”
With a background in immunology, Sir Mark will play a key role in the implementation of the £180m worth of life sciences reforms in the UK announced by Cameron at the end of 2011.
He will also work with ministers, the scientific community and the media to ensure that scientific methods, risk and uncertainty are understood by the public.
Sir Mark had been director of the Wellcome Trust since 2003, leading the body in its support of scientific and medical research.
This included studies into the human genome and human brain, infectious diseases such as malaria and MRSA, and chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
The Trust's chair Sir Bill Castell is to lead the board of governors in the recruitment of a new director.
He said: "Mark has led the Wellcome Trust with great distinction over a decade of extraordinary achievement, and there is nobody in Britain better placed to ensure that science plays the central role it deserves to in public policy. British science will be stronger for his appointment.”