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The 2024 Annual General Meeting took place online (due to train strikes) on Wednesday 8th May and included updates from the RSB chief executive, approval of the 2022-2023 finances, appointments to the RSB Council, and this year’s Charter Lecture.

The AGM was chaired by Professor Sir Ian Boyd FRSB, president of the Royal Society of Biology now entering his third year in the role.

Dr Mark Downs CBiol CSci FRSB presented an overview of RSB achievements over the past financial year and an update on current and future activities, including the launch of the next five-year strategy for 2025-2030 which will take effect in January.

Dr Downs’ highlights included our engagement with parliament, such as our Voice of the Future event, and our annual Biology WeekThe Biologist continues to be highly valued by our membership, and he outlined the breadth and depth of our science policy and education policy work. Our membership is now at 23,000 members, with excellent retention at FRSB and MRSB grades. Client services, training, professional registration, and accreditation are also delivering vital work to achieve our goals.

2024 marks the 15th anniversary of the Society as it is known today from when the Institute of Biology and the Biosciences Federation merged, and 2025 will mark the 75th anniversary of the Institute of Biology.

Plans for a new website and redesign are underway, with attendees being given a taster of what this will look like. Register your interest in attending a website usability testing workshop by contacting the public affairs team at

Next year will also see the RSB move to becoming a virtual organisation. As this year’s AGM was moved online, the president’s medals will be awarded in-person at a later date in the year. Dr Downs expressed his sincere thanks to all volunteers, Council, committees, Special Interest Groups and partnerships, judges, branch committees, and staff for their hard work over the last year.

Dr Louise Leong FRSB, Honorary Treasurer of the RSB, presented a summary of the annual report and an overview of the RSB’s finances.

Dr Leong was reappointed as Honorary Treasurer for the second year and Emeritus Professor Claire Wathes FRSB was reappointed Honorary Secretary for the third year before announcing the appointment of two new members of RSB Council to fill two vacancies. Mr Alastair Land FRSB was elected unopposed from the College of Individual Members, replacing Professor Nigel Brown FRSB who had completed his second term on Council. Two nominations were received from the College of Organisational Members and, following a vote, Dr Helen Watson was appointed.

This year’s Charter Lecture was given by Professor Dame Melanie Welham FRSB, previously executive chair of BBSRC, titled “Reflections on career paths, life at the science policy interface, and opportunities for bioscience”.

Professor Welham gave an overview of her career to date and the challenges and rewards faced along the way. She talked about transitioning from academia to the public sector, the real opportunities for bioscience to contribute to tackling the major societal and global challenges we face today, and the need to attract a diversity of people with diverse ideas to realise the full potential of the bioscience sector.