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In today's cabinet reshuffle the minister for universities and science Rt Hon David Willetts MP has been replaced by Rt Hon Greg Clark MP.

The Society of Biology welcomes Rt Hon Greg Clark MP to the post as the new minister of state for universities, science and cities, Rt Hon George Freeman MP as minister for life sciences, Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP as education secretary and Rt Hon Liz Truss MP as environment secretary.

Dr Mark Downs, chief executive of the Society of Biology, speaks of the importance of MPs' support for science and education: "The UK produces world-class scientific research. However, we require sustained and growing investment in science, engineering and technology to ensure long-term economic growth. Research shows that for every £1 invested in research there is a 20 pence return year on year (CaSE 2014). The arguments for growing research investment are overwhelming.

"From antibiotic resistance to environmental degradation, the life sciences have a key role to play in tackling many of society's greatest challenges. Investment in research, skills and education is fundamental to meeting them."

Dr Stephen Benn, director of parliamentary affairs at the Society of Biology, represents broad areas of science and engineering and has worked closely with David Willetts. He pays tribute to the work of Rt Hon David Willetts MP: "On behalf of the whole scientific community I would like to praise the dedication to science that David Willetts has shown over the last four years. Science and engineering have benefited from his leadership and commitment."

The prime minister has made it clear that life sciences is a jewel in the crown of our economy, recognising the broad environmental, health, social and economic benefits that the life science can bring.

In response to today’s news that George Freeman MP has been appointed as minister for life sciences, Dr Mark Downs says:

“The Society of Biology is delighted that George Freeman MP has been appointed minister for life sciences jointly in the Department for Health and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The appointment is a welcome example of a joined-up approach between departments and of the Government’s commitment to science.

“Freeman’s work as Government adviser on life sciences to Rt Hon David Willetts MP and as chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Science & Technology in Agriculture, along with his previous experience in biomedical venture capital, ensures he has a deep understanding of how the life sciences can benefit the economy and society.

“Science must remain a priority if the UK is to continue to reap the rewards of its world-class science base. George Freeman has already shown great commitment to science in his time as an MP and we are certain he will continue to do this. We look forward to working with him in his new role.”