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Professor David S. Latchman, Vice-Chancellor

The Vice-Chancellor is the chief academic and administrative officer of the College. Appointed by, and accountable to, the Governors, he is responsible for promoting the continuous development of Birkbeck's record of academic excellence in both teaching and research. The title of Vice-Chancellor replaced the former title of Master and came into effect in August 2020.

The Vice-Chancellor is also the designated Accounting Officer to the Office for Students (OfS) and previously HEFCE.


Professor David Latchman took up his appointment at Birkbeck in 2003 and has been Professor of Genetics at University College London since 1999. He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2010 for his services to higher education.

Since his appointment, Professor Latchman has been an advocate of lifelong learning, in a system that focuses on funding school leavers’ degrees over others.

In 2007, Birkbeck lost 70% of its income when students who already had a first degree were prevented from obtaining loans to cover the cost of tuition fees to study for qualifications that were at an equivalent or lower level than ones they already had (ELQ). In response, Professor Latchman developed a strategic plan which resulted in the award of a £10 million grant from the central government which was used to reach out to new groups and students and introduce new three-year programmes that would allow working people to complete degrees at the same pace as full-time day students.

His advocacy for lifelong learning has seen further funding for part-time students and the universities that serve them, with fee loans and maintenance loans being made available to part-time undergraduate students and full-time postgraduate students, and the upper age limit of postgraduate loans being set at 60 years of age, a 30-year increase on the previous age limit.

Professor Latchman continues to advocate for lifelong learning, publishing opinion pieces in the Guardian and the Financial Times, and is a member of the Lifelong Education Commission at ResPublica.

In his role at Birkbeck, Professor Latchman has overseen significant development of the College’s estate, including the development of the Clore Management Centre, Wohl Wolfson ToddlerLab, and 373 Euston Road. In 2021, Birkbeck acquired the former Student Central building from the University of London, which is scheduled to reopen in 2024 increasing its teaching, learning and student social space by 25%.

Since Professor Latchman's appointment, the College has been awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for the work on the BabyLab. It has also been highly rated in successive government research and teaching assessment exercises and it has significantly increased its income from philanthropic sources.


  • Professor Latchman obtained a BA with first-class honours in Natural Sciences, specialising in Genetics, from the University of Cambridge in 1978 and was awarded a PhD in 1981 for a thesis entitled  Control of alpha-fetoprotein gene expression in the mouse.
  • After a three-year period as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Biochemistry at Imperial College London, he was appointed Lecturer in Molecular Genetics in the Department of Biology at University College London.
  • In 1988 he joined the UCL Department of Biochemistry and became Director of the Medical Molecular Biology Unit and, in 1990, Reader in Molecular Biology.
  • In 1991 he became Professor of Molecular Pathology, Head of the Department of Chemical Pathology (a department of the Medical School) and Head of the Division of Molecular Pathology which included both the Department of Chemical Pathology and the Medical Molecular Biology Unit.
  • In 1993 the two parts of the Division formally merged to become the Department of Molecular Pathology.  In 1995, Professor Latchman became Chairman of the Division of Pathology and Infectious Diseases, which included a number of pathology departments.
  • In 1996 these were brought together in the Institute of Medical Sciences of which Professor Latchman became Director.  During this time he also became Deputy Head of the UCL Graduate School and Chairman of the Graduate School Strategy Committee (which introduced interdisciplinary scholarships for PhD students) and was responsible for the creation of a number of graduate school research scholarships for all disciplines.
  • In 1999 he was appointed to the established Chair of Human Genetics at UCL and became Dean of the Institute of Child Health.


  • Gene Control (Gene Regulation). New York, London: Garland Science, Taylor and Francis Group, 2015.
  • Eukaryotic Transcription Factors. Elsevier/Academic Press, 2008.
  • Gene regulation: a eukaryotic perspective. New York: Taylor & Francis, 2005.
  • Transcription factors: a practical approach. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
  • Genetic manipulation of the nervous system. London, San Diego: Academic Press, 1996.
  • View all books written by Professor Latchman.


  • Professor Latchman is Chairman of the Trustees of the Maurice Wohl Charitable Foundation and a Trustee of the Maurice and Vivienne Wohl Philanthropic Foundation.
  • Professor Latchman serves, or has served, on a number of committees, including:
    • ResPublica, Lifelong Education Commission
    • Labour Lifelong Learning Commission
    • London First
    • London Higher
    • Universities UK
    • Universities UK Research Policy Network
    • Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) Research Strategy Committee
    • Scientific Committee of the National Institute of Biological Standards
    • London 'Ideas' Genetics Knowledge Park
    • Health Protection Agency
    • Department of Health Genetics and Insurance Committee
    • National DNA database Ethics Committee
    • Parkinson’s Disease Society Medical Advisory Committee
    • British Heart Foundation Project Grants Committee