Leading scientist to develop new Centre for Food and Health and to head the Institute of Food Research

8th January 2015

The Institute of Food Research is delighted to announce the appointment of Professor Ian Charles as its new Director and to lead the programme to develop the UK’s new Centre for Food & Health to be based at the Norwich Research Park.

Prof. Ian Charles

Prof. Ian Charles

Professor Charles returns to the UK from Australia where he is currently Director of the ithree institute, University of Technology, Sydney.

Professor Charles has over 30 years’ experience in academic and commercial research. His academic career has included being a founding member of The Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research at University College London, one the UK’s first institutes of translational medicine. He has also worked in the pharmaceutical industry at Glaxo Wellcome, and has been founder and CSO of biotech companies in the area of infectious disease, including Arrow Therapeutics, sold to AstraZeneca, and Auspherix a venture capital backed company founded in 2013. His current research interests include infectious diseases as well as the microbiome and its impact on health and wellbeing.


The new Centre for Food & Health will provide a step change for food and health research, and the translation of science by industry, to benefit society and the UK economy, including the multi-billion pound food and drink industry.  The Centre will be located at the Norwich Research Park, one of Europe’s largest single-site concentrations of research in Food, Health and Environmental sciences.

There is a unique set of resources and expertise at the Norwich Research Park enabling the new Centre for Food & Health to be a world-leading innovation hub for food and health research. It has the potential to accelerate the development of innovative techniques to address global food and health issues, and I am excited to be joining at this pivotal time – Professor Ian Charles

The multidisciplinary Centre aims to bring together the Institute of Food Research and aspects of the University of East Anglia’s Faculty of Science and the Norwich Medical School with the regional gastrointestinal endoscopy facility at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.  With a unique integration of diet, health, nutrition and medicine under one roof, linking closely to world class plant and crop research at the John Innes Centre and bioinformatics at The Genome Analysis Centre (both also located on the Norwich Research Park), it will have the potential to deliver clinically validated strategies to improve human health and wellbeing.

Funding for the Centre for Food & Health building has been committed from the Institute of Food Research, the University of East Anglia and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital together with the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). Further funding is being sought from Government capital funds.

Professor Jackie Hunter, Chief Executive of BBSRC, says “I am delighted that a scientist and leader of the calibre of Professor Charles has been appointed to lead the Institute of Food Research and to drive forward the project to realise the development of the Centre for Food & Health in Norwich. The critical mass of research expertise in dietary and food intervention and lifelong wellbeing that the Centre will create, at the heart of the Norwich Research Park, will directly align with BBSRC’s strategic vision of bioscience tackling some of the most significant social challenges of the coming decades. The Centre will need to work closely with the food industry, healthcare and allied sectors to transfer its scientific knowledge into practice, and Professor Charles has the experience and expertise to achieve this translational goal. ”

Professor Charles brings an excellent combination of academic and commercial research experience to lead and develop  the Institute of Food Research  into the new Centre and we are very pleased that he has taken up the opportunity to join us at such an important time,” adds  Dr Tim Brears, chairman, Institute of Food Research.

Professor Charles will commence his post in May 2015 as Director of IFR, following the retirement of Professor David Boxer, and he will lead the programme for the new Centre and become its founding Director.