The British Science Association (BSA) has today announced that Gisela Abbam has been appointed as the new Chair of Council – the group that constitutes the BSA’s board of trustees. She has taken the reins from Lord David Willetts, who stepped down as Chair in December 2018 after completing his term. Gisela will lead the BSA’s Council, who are responsible for ensuring the organisation achieves its vision of a world where science is seen as the heart of society and culture.

Gisela is a global thought-leader and executive who is passionate about making a difference in people’s lives and has a particular interest in improving access to and equality in global health and development. She works in collaboration with governments, the World Health Organisation, the United Nations, the World Bank and other multilateral organisations to improve health outcomes for people across the world.

Gisela will bring her passion and experience to provide strategic oversight of the BSA’s vision and aims, and to represent the BSA to key external audiences.

Gisela Abbam said: "I’m honoured to be appointed as the new Chair of the British Science Association, an organisation with a long history and well-established footing in British science and culture. I’m passionate about advocating for the betterment of society through science and health and am looking forward to bringing my experience in implementing the visions of other organisations to the table.

“I was drawn to the BSA’s goal of transforming the diversity and inclusivity of science; reaching under-served audiences; and increasing the proportion of the UK population who are actively engaged and involved in science. Growing everyone’s science literacy is of the upmost importance to our lives, the economy and the environment - not just here in the UK, but globally. I look forward to the challenges ahead and can’t wait to work with their dedicated staff and team for the foreseeable future.”

Gisela’s first Council meeting as Chair of the BSA will take place in March 2019. The Chair’s term lasts for three years, and Gisela will have the option of taking on a second term in 2022.

Katherine Mathieson, Chief Executive of the BSA, said: "I'm delighted to welcome Gisela to our organisation as our new Chair; it’s an exciting time for the BSA as we implement our new strategic plan to transform the relationship that millions of people have with science. Gisela has a wealth of experience of leading campaigns and delivering change in the health and life sciences sector, both in the UK and globally. I believe she will bring a unique and fresh perspective on our work, which will be a huge asset to us as we seek to deliver against our ambitious mission and vision.

“Gisela is the perfect embodiment of someone who is a dedicated champion of science without having any formal training in the discipline. She personifies our vision. I hope that she finds the role both enjoyable and enriching, as I know the staff and trustees of the British Science Association are very much looking forward to working with her.

“I’d also like to give my thanks – on behalf of the board and the executive – to our outgoing Chair, Lord David Willetts for all his hard work and commitment.”

Current BSA Council members include: Matt Locke, Deputy Chair; Professor Louise Archer, Vice President for Education; Stephen Nuttall, Vice President for Engagement; Dr Emily Dawson; and Dr Steven Hill.  For the full list and Council biographies, please visit:  

About Gisela Abbam

Gisela is a global thought leader and Executive who is passionate about making a difference in people’s lives. She is also a global advocate for the prioritisation of Health.

Gisela is the Director of Strategic Partnerships and a Company Officer for Abt Associates, whose mission is to improve the quality of life and economic well-being of people worldwide. Her role entails developing global strategic partnerships with organisations to implement their vision and advance Abt’s mission.

Abt Associates is regularly ranked as one of the top 20 global research firms and one of the top 40 international development innovators.

Gisela was previously the Global Executive Director for Government Affairs & Policy for GE Healthcare. She developed the global function. She was responsible for the strategic direction of government affairs and policy for GE Healthcare, the $18 billion business unit of GE that provides transformational medical technologies to health customers in over 100 countries.

Gisela has written over 45 white papers on various public policy issues and regularly presents at International conferences.

Gisela currently holds the following positions:

  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce
  • Member of the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicines Committee on Global Health and the Future of the US
  • Member of Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs
  • Business Mentor with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women
  • Non-executive Director for Strong Tower Missionaries
  • Children’s Champion for UNICEF
  • Speaker for Schools

Gisela was the founding Chair of the Global Diagnostic Imaging, Healthcare IT & Radiation Therapy Trade Association (DITTA) Global Health Working Group, which represents over 600 companies and is focused on working with WHO and the World Bank.

Gisela was on the leadership team that set up the Centre for Public Health Excellence at the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

Gisela holds a Bachelors degree in Education (BEd Hons) and an MBA.