About us Our Trustees Christopher Higgins | Chair Professor Christopher Higgins PhD FRSE FMedSci has recently retired after eight years as Vice-Chancellor of Durham University. His distinguished career includes research, teaching and leadership at the Universities of California (Berkeley), Oxford, Dundee, and Imperial College London.He now lives in Suffolk and holds a number of non-executive positions in addition to his role as Chair of NYCGB's Board of Trustees. Chris was educated at Raynes Park Comprehensive School in South London, and studied violin for three years as a Junior Exhibitioner at the Royal College of Music where he was awarded the Hugh Bean prize and led the First Orchestra. Recognising that others had greater talent as an instrumentalist, rather than pursue a career in music he graduated from Durham University with a first class degree in Botany in 1976 and a PhD in 1979. While at Durham he led the University Orchestra for four years, gave innumerable concerts with other groups and probably spent more time in the music department than he did in the library and laboratory! Throughout much of his career he continued playing in amateur orchestras and promoting music for young people, whether studying music or not, especially at Durham University where a local boy, and now star of the world's operatic stages, Sir Thomas Allen was appointed Chancellor, and through endowing educational scholarships for performance musicians and singers at the University. Two of Chris' five daughters have been members of NYCGB. After a period at the University of California, to learn the then emerging field of molecular genetics, Chris returned to the UK where he became Professor at the University of Dundee at the age of 33. In 1989 he was appointed Professor at Oxford University and, in 1994, Nuffield Professor and Head of the Department of Clinical Biochemistry. In 1998 Chris moved to become Medical Research Council Director and Head of Division at Imperial College London Medical School. He has published over 200 papers in leading journals and received many awards for his research including the CIBA medal of the Biochemical Society, the Fleming Award of the Society for General Microbiology and a Howard Hughes International Research Scholarship. His work focused on fundamental aspects of the genetics and cell biology which led to applications in cancer chemotherapy and his team carrying out the first clinical trials for cystic fibrosis gene therapy in the UK. Professor Higgins has served on the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and The Academy of Medical Sciences and was scientific advisor to the House of Lords select Committee on stem cells (2001-2002). He has held a number of public advisory appointments including Human Genetics Commissioner, the board of the North East regional Development Agency, and as Chair of SEAC - the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee which advised the Government on BSE and vCJD. He has also been very active at the Science-Arts interface and in public engagement with science at all levels from schools lectures with the Royal Institution to radio and television broadcasts on the importance of animal and embryo research for medical advancement. In addition to his ongoing writing about education and research, his commitment to education and young people is illustrated through his role as Governor of West Suffolk College and as a Trustee for Suffolk Academies Trust.