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Atkinson brings his extensive leadership experience

Sacramento, Calif.- Chancellor Gary S. May has named Simon J. Atkinson to be the next vice chancellor for research, effective Nov. 15.

Atkinson currently serves as vice chancellor for research at the University of Kansas, a position he’s held since 2019. He has primary responsibility for research on the Lawrence campus and advises university leadership on university wide issues including the KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas. His portfolio includes direct oversight of 10 university-level centers and institutes. KU research garners just over $300 million in external funding.

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“Simon joins UC Davis with more than 20 years of leadership, including overseeing a comprehensive public university research portfolio,” May said. “I’m confident he’ll further elevate our expertise in solving global problems and expanding our scholarship.”


Prior to his role at KU, Atkinson was vice chancellor for research at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and associate vice president for research for Indiana University, with systemwide responsibility for innovation and commercialization. He was chair of the IUPUI Department of Biology in the Purdue School of Science for five years, director of the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Medical Biophysics at the Indiana University School of Medicine for six years, and president of the IUPUI Faculty Council.

Atkinson is internationally recognized for his studies in the prevention and treatment of acute kidney injuries that can be triggered by heart failure, cardiac surgery, toxins and contrast agents used in diagnostic tests. In 2005, he co-founded INphoton, a life sciences company.

Office of Research

The UC Davis Office of Research is responsible for review and acceptance of extramural research awards; research relationships with government and industry; encouraging and assisting faculty in developing research and scholarly studies; oversight of intramural research support; functional responsibility for organized research units and projects; management of certain research-related programs, instrumentation and facilities; management of several UC Natural Reserve sites; review and approval of the use of human subjects and conflict of interest disclosures; and coordination of patenting and licensing of campus intellectual property.

In addition to exceeding $1 billion in research funding in 2022-23, the UC Davis Office of Research facilitated five new startup licenses, had 122 records of invention, and had more than 1,500 patents on record.

“I am thrilled to be joining UC Davis. I’ve been impressed by the growing portfolio of high-impact research and scholarship, but even more so by the collegiality of the research community and its passionate engagement with the most important issues confronting us.”

Simon Atkinson

Educational Background

Atkinson has a doctorate in molecular biology from the University of Cambridge and a bachelor’s degree in cell and molecular biology from King’s College London. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Chancellor May expressed gratitude for Jeffery C. Gibeling’s interim leadership since March. “Jeff has done a superb job in maintaining great momentum for the UC Davis research enterprise. Jeff’s dedication to UC Davis over many years and in several key campus roles deserves our praise and our thanks.”

Atkinson will initially begin his position at UC Davis remotely and will be physically on campus beginning in early 2024.

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