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Julia Chain appointed as new chair of the HFEA

We are delighted to welcome Julia Chain as the new Chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). She has been appointed by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care from 1 April 2021 for a period of three years.

Julia has over 30 years’ experience in legal and managerial roles in both private practice and industry. Among many senior roles she became the first woman managing partner of a top 100 law firm, Andersen Legal, and most recently led the UK and European operations of Advanced Discovery Inc.

Julia is also active in the charitable and public sector. She is currently Deputy Chair of Norwood, a leading learning disability and children’s charity, and was previously a Deputy Chair of the Commission for Racial Equality.

Peter Thompson, Chief Executive of the HFEA, said:

“Julia’s background and skills will provide a unique insight and contribution to our regulatory role. Fertility services in the UK are developing rapidly, and Julia’s experience as a senior executive and as a non-executive Board member, in both the public and private sectors, will be invaluable as we go forward.

“In our 30th anniversary year, we look forward to working with Julia to ensure the HFEA delivers our ambitious strategy and remains at the forefront of championing high quality patient care.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our outgoing Chair, Sally Cheshire CBE, for her immense contribution to our work. Sally put the patient at the heart of our regulatory focus and leaves the HFEA in a very strong position to tackle the challenges ahead.”

Julia Chain said:

“I am delighted to be joining the HFEA at such an exciting time in its 30-year history. The HFEA was the first regulatory body of its kind in the world and has long been admired for the way in which it has managed some of the most profound ethical questions in public life. I am greatly looking forward to leading the organisation, building on Sally’s legacy and continuing to put the needs of patients and the wider public at the heart of everything we do whilst  ensuring the UK remains a great place to offer assisted reproduction services and undertake research involving human embryos.”



Notes to editors

The Board of the HFEA are “the Authority”, and Members of the Authority come from a range of backgrounds linked to our work, as well as lay Members who bring a wide range of other experience.

The Authority play a role in setting the strategic direction of the HFEA, scrutinising it and holding it to account for its performance, and take specific licensing decisions.

Read more about the Authority members.

The appointment will involve a time commitment of 2-3 days per week and remuneration will be at a rate of £47,360 per annum.

This appointment is made in accordance with the Cabinet Office Code of Governance for Public Appointments. The regulation of public appointments against the requirements of this code is carried out by the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

The appointment is made on merit and political activity played no part in the decision process. However, in accordance with the code, there is a requirement for appointees’ political activity (if any declared) to be made public. Julia Chain has not declared any political activity.


About Julia Chain

Julia has over 30 years’ experience in legal and management roles in both private practice and industry.

In her most recent executive role, Julia was UK Managing Director and International VP of Advanced Discovery Inc, a global corporate specialising in E-Discovery and Risk Management. A qualified corporate lawyer, Julia began her career at Shearman & Sterling in New York and at Herbert Smith, before joining Andersen Legal where she became the first woman managing partner of a top 100 law firm. Subsequently, Julia joined the board of T-Mobile U.K as General Counsel, thereafter, founding a legal change management consultancy which was acquired by Huron Consulting Inc.

Julia is currently Deputy Chair of Norwood, a leading learning disability and children’s charity, and Chair of Sadeh, an environmental educational charity. Her previous roles include Deputy Chair of the Commission for Racial Equality and non-executive director of Frontier Economics Ltd.

Review date: 8 September 2023