The first woman to serve as Deputy Prime Minister and Prime Minister of Australia, Gillard was a prominent figure in the nation’s economic recovery from the 2008 financial crash and also implemented significant education and healthcare reforms.

“It really is a dream come true to have the opportunity to chair Wellcome,” she stated as her appointment was made public. “I will relish supporting and speaking up for scientific research into key health challenges. I look forward to working with all those in the Wellcome family, including the Board, the staff who are led by the remarkable Jeremy Farrar, the research community and all those focused on the health of humanity.”

Since leaving office in Australia, Gillard has taken on roles as chair of both the Global Partnership for Education and mental health awareness body Beyond Blue.

Discussing the appointment, outgoing chair Eliza Manningham-Buller says she knows Gillard will “support Wellcome’s growing ambition to address through science the health challenges facing the world”.

Adding to the voices welcoming the former politician, Professor Sir Michael Ferguson, deputy chair of Wellcome’s Board of Governors, describes her as an “inspirational and visionary leader” who will “bring a unique global outlook to Wellcome”.

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