Sir Martin Evans steps down as chancellor of Cardiff University

By Gabriella Mansell

Following eight years in the role, FRS and Nobel prize winner Professor Sir Martin Evans is set to step down as chancellor of Cardiff University.

Sir Martin made the announcement last week at the University’s annual general meeting after having formally advised the council previous to this. Despite renouncing his title, Sir Martin will remain at Cardiff, continuing to be very much a part of the University as an Emeritus Professor, which is an honorary title that recognises distinguished academic service.

Professor Sir Martin Evans was the first ever scientist to identify embryonic stem cells, which can be adapted for varying medical purposes. From basic research to the complex development of new theories, his discoveries are now being applied to virtually all aspects of biomedical science. In 2007 Sir martin was awarded the highest accolade, the most prestigious honour in world science: The Nobel Peace Prize for Medicine. He was awarded it based on “the ground-breaking discoveries concerning embryonic stem cells and DNA recombination in animals”.

Among other merits Sir Martin was knighted in 2004 for his services to medical science and in 2009 was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Society of Medicine in recognition of his valuable contribution to medicine. In 2009 he also received the Baly Medal from the Royal College of Physicians and the Copley Medal, the Royal Society’s oldest award, joining an eminent list of previous recipients including the great Albert Einstein. He has also received honorary doctorate awards from the University of Bath, University of Buckinghamshire, University College London, University of Wales and the University of Athens.

Sir Martin Evans was inaugurated as chancellor (previously known as president) in 2009 and took up a second term in 2014. The chancellor is the most senior of position of the University’s honorary officers; it is a ceremonial role consisting of chairing Court and presiding at graduation ceremonies.

Speaking about Sir Martin’s departure from the role, Professor Stuart Palmer, Chair of Council said: “I would like to take this opportunity to put on record our immense thanks to Sir Martin. It has been an honour for the University to have our Nobel Laureate, Professor Sir Martin Evans, as the 22nd Chancellor of Cardiff University.”

Reflecting on his time as chancellor Sir Martin said: “Holding the role of Chancellor of this institution has been an honour and a privilege which I have greatly enjoyed. To be part of graduation, one of the highlights in the University calendar, has been a joy. Each year I have shared in the pride of all of our new graduates who join over 145,000 alumni in more than 180 countries around the world.”

Sir Martin moved from Cambridge University in 1999 to lead the newly formed School of Biosciences in Cardiff University and after 18 years at Cardiff in 2013 the University named the School of Bioscience building in his honour.

Professor Colin Riordan said: “Professor Sir Martin Evans holds, to date, the only Nobel Prize to have been won by a scientist working in Wales and this is a matter of immeasurable pride for the University. We are grateful for his immense contribution to science, the wide ranging benefits of his research and his service to the University.”

Sir Martin is heralded worldwide as “the grandfather of stem cell research” and named as one of “ten Britons who have shaped our world.”

The process to set up a nominations committee to appoint the next Chancellor will commence in due course. The committee is led by the Chair of Council with membership from both Council and Court.