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UCLan academic appointed Challenge Leader for Global Challenges Research Fund

Professor Nicola Lowe to lead the Food Systems portfolio

A University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) professor has been appointed to one of nine UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) ‘Challenge Leader’ posts to help direct the work of a £1.5bn government fund dedicated to addressing the economic development and social welfare of developing countries.

Nicola Lowe, Professor of Nutritional Sciences and Co-Director of the International Institute of Nutritional Sciences and Food Safety Studies, was appointed to lead the Food Systems portfolio.

She said: “I’m absolutely delighted to have been appointed to this highly prestigious role. It is a huge role to take on, alongside my University work, but I am very much looking forward to working with  researchers, policy makers and practitioners to deliver impact from the research that is being supported through the Global Challenges Research Fund."

This research has the potential to make a real difference to the lives of millions of people living in low and middle income countries around the world.

The nine Challenge Leaders will direct Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) portfolios in:
- Global Health
- Food Systems
- Conflict
- Resilience
- Education
- Sustainable Cities

The leaders will ensure that the GCRF Fund has the greatest possible impact on global development and move the world closer towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The Challenge Leaders will work across UK Research and Innovation, the National Academies and the UK Space Agency to coordinate their GCRF programmes, bring together GCRF researchers, policy-makers and practitioners, and enable GCRF science and research to generate innovative solutions to development challenges that will improve the lives of people around the globe.

Professor Andrew Thompson, UKRI Executive Champion for the GCRF and Newton Fund, commented: “The appointment of these nine Challenge Leaders will ensure that the GCRF can connect with those on the frontline of global development and respond to the needs and ambitions of developing countries through cutting edge disciplinary and interdisciplinary research.”


Professor Nicola Lowe

Working with international agencies, development funders, industry and the GCRF research community these new Challenge Leaders will identify and develop research opportunities across different interfaces and maximise real-world impact.

Dr Hayaatun Sillem, Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the National Academies representative on the GCRF Strategic Advisory Group secretariat, said: “The Challenge Leaders announced today have an excellent opportunity to work with a range of academic and other stakeholders across research disciplines to identify important synergies and enable coherent approaches and solutions to development challenges.

“The Royal Academy of Engineering, and our sister Academies the Royal Society, the British Academy and the Academy of Medical Sciences, work together closely to further the ambitious aims of the GCRF and welcome the consistency, both within and across the GCRF portfolios that the new appointments will enable.”

Professor Sir Mike Aaronson, Chair of the GCRF Strategic Advisory Group, added: “The GCRF is a novel and exciting initiative that brings the strengths of different disciplines and approaches to bear in tackling complex development issues. The Challenge Leaders will enhance those contributions by making sure opportunities to work across boundaries are not missed and that the underlying issues that cut across different development challenges are addressed.”

Further details and biographies of the Challenge Leaders can be found on the Challenge Leaders webpage on the UKRI website.

Lyndsey Boardman | 19 April 2018