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Leading UK Science Facility Appoints New Chairman

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Silvana Westbury, Acting Head of Communications | +44 (0)1235 778130 | +44 (0) 07920 594660 |

Mary Cruse, Press & PR Officer | +44 (0)1235 778548 |

Diamond Light Source, the UK’s national synchrotron science facility, has appointed Professor Sir Adrian Smith as its new Chairman.

Sir Adrian, who takes over from Lord Alec Broers, is a distinguished statistician with current and former positions in government and a number of national institutions. In 2002, he was invited by the Government to chair a review into secondary mathematics education in the UK, resulting in the well-received Smith Report. From 2008 - 2012, Sir Adrian served as Director General for Science and Research at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), which followed on from his appointment in 1998 as Principal of Queen Mary University, London. Currently, Professor Smith holds the positions of Vice-Chancellor of the University of London and Deputy Chair of the UK Statistics Authority.

Professor Sir Adrian Smith, Diamond's new Chairman (Image: Diamond Light Source)

Now in its eighth year of operation, Diamond Light Source has established itself as a world-leading scientific research facility. The breadth and depth of Sir Adrian’s experience in science and research, academia and politics make him the ideal candidate for the role as Chairman of the facility. Sir Adrian’s appointment coincides with a rapid phase of development for Diamond, with 13 new experimental stations scheduled for delivery between 2013 - 2018, and with the construction of a new cutting-edge imaging facility for the both the life and the physical sciences underway.

Sir Adrian comments: “I am delighted to have this opportunity to contribute to the next phase of development of Diamond, maintaining and enhancing its position as a leading-edge scientific facility and ensuring that the knowledge generated at the facility is widely disseminated in academe and industry, and fully exploited for the wider public good.”

Diamond’s CEO, Professor Andrew Harrison, adds: “We are extremely pleased to welcome Sir Adrian Smith as Chairman of the Board. His wealth of experience in science – practice and policy – and proven track record of influencing change will be a great asset to Diamond’s Board of Directors. With his distinguished career history to date, we are confident Sir Adrian will be a fervent and adept ambassador for Diamond. We are also extremely grateful to Lord Broers for his exceptional support and the role he has played in helping Diamond achieve its goals over the last six years.”

“The pace of development of synchrotrons and the science they support continues relentlessly around the world. Staying ahead requires foresight and planning. To this end, Diamond is already planning how to continue to develop its facilities to meet the scientific and societal challenges of the future. This is a crucial time in the evolution of Diamond and continued strong and effective leadership of our Board at this moment is therefore essential to our future success.”

Diamond Light Source Ltd. is a joint venture between the UK Government, via the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), and the Wellcome Trust, with shareholdings of 86% and 14% respectively. Professor John Womersley, STFC Chief Executive, says: “There is wide agreement that scientific and technological excellence are critical to the UK’s future prosperity in an increasingly globalised knowledge economy. These are challenging but exciting times, and Sir Adrian’s broad knowledge of political, scientific and Research Council demands makes him an exceptionally good choice for steering Diamond’s future course. I very much look forward to working with him again."

Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust said: “Professor Sir Adrian Smith is an excellent appointment who brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise about the Diamond Light Source, and the needs of large, world-leading facilities, with him. Diamond is highly valued by the UK research community and we continue to be supportive of the facility and the successful partnership with the Science and Technology Facilities Council.”

Officially opened by Her Majesty the Queen in 2007, the Diamond synchrotron is used by over 3,000 researchers in a broad range of scientific fields each year, as well as over 70 different industrial companies. In the last seven years, thousands of scientists from the UK and overseas have used the facilities available at Diamond to support a vast range of research, including new vaccines and antiviral drugs, ancient fossils and relics, new forms of energy production and storage, climate control and nanotechnology. Recently, findings have helped advance potential treatments for depression, Foot & Mouth disease and Hand, Foot & Mouth disease.

The many experiments take advantage of the light produced at the facility, which is 10 billion times brighter than the sun and allows scientists to study the structure of material at an atomic level. Research conducted at Diamond has been instrumental in a broad range of scientific advances and discoveries which touch on every part of our lives, from emerging nanotechnologies to how we combat disease, feed the world’s population and develop new energy sources.

With a phased construction programme, there are currently 24 experimental stations, known as beamlines, in operation. The following four years will see nine more specialist research facilities come online. Diamond also hosts the world’s only Membrane Protein Facility to be situated adjacent to a synchrotron, and in the near future will host an imaging facility for the both the life and the physical sciences and a UK Hub for Free Electron Laser (FEL) expertise. However, the development and ambition of Diamond does not stop there.

Diamond Light Source is funded by the UK Government through the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), and by the Wellcome Trust. Diamond generates extremely intense pin-point beams of synchrotron light. These are of exceptional quality, and range from X-rays to ultra-violet to infrared. For example, Diamond’s X-rays are around 100 billion times brighter than a standard hospital X-ray machine.

Diamond Light Source is used by over 3,000 academic and industrial researchers across a wide range of disciplines, including structural biology, health and medicine, solid-state physics, materials & magnetism, nanoscience, electronics, earth & environmental sciences, chemistry, cultural heritage, energy and engineering. Many everyday commodities that we take for granted, from food manufacturing to consumer product, from revolutionary drugs to surgical tools, from computers to mobile phones, have all been developed or improved using synchrotron light. For more information about Diamond visit