Dame Nancy Rothwell

President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor of Physiology, University of Manchester


Nancy Rothwell obtained a first class degree in Physiology in 1976, a PhD in 1978 and a DSc in 1987 from the University of London. Her early research identified mechanisms of energy balance regulation, obesity and cachexia.

In 1984 she was awarded a Royal Society Research Fellowship and relocated to Manchester in 1987.

Nancy was awarded a Chair in physiology in 1994, then a prestigious Medical Research Council Research Chair from 1998 to 2010.

Her current research focuses on the role of inflammation in brain disease, and has identified the role of the cytokine interleukin-1 (IL-1) in diverse forms of brain injury. Her recent studies have begun to elucidate the mechanisms regulating IL-1 release and its action, and her group has conducted the first early clinical trial of an IL-1 inhibitor in stroke.

Nancy was the founding President of the Society of Biology (now the Royal Society of Biology), and has previously served as President of the British Neuroscience Association, a council member of MRC, BBSRC and Cancer Research UK and as a non-executive director of AstraZeneca.

In 2003 she won the prestigious Pfizer Research Prize, in 2004 was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and in 2005 was honoured with a DBE.

Nancy became President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester in July 2010, but still maintains an active research group.

She is currently Co-Chair of the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology, Chair of the Russell Group, a Deputy Lieutenant for Greater Manchester, Chair of the Oxford Road Corridor Board, and a member of the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Board, the Northern Powerhouse Partnership Board and the Industrial Strategy Council.

Nancy takes a strong and active interest in public communication of science and regularly gives talks to schools and the public and contributes to television, radio and press, particularly on sensitive issues in science. In 1998 she delivered the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, televised by the BBC.