Professor Irene Tracey FMedSci is to be the next Warden of Merton College, Oxford.

The college's governing body has declared its intention to elect Professor Tracey, who is currently Head of the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neuroscience and Nuffield Chair of Anaesthetic Science at the University of Oxford. She will succeed Sir Martin Taylor FRS, who retires in September 2018 after eight years in post.

Professor Tracey will be the 51st holder of the Wardenship, a position dating back to the college's foundation in 1264. She is a Merton alumna, having taken an honours degree in biochemistry in 1989 and been awarded her DPhil in 1993. She is the second woman to have been appointed to the role of Warden, the first being Dame Jessica Rawson, who served from 1994 to 2010.

Commenting on Professor Tracey's election, Professor Judith Armitage, the college's Sub-warden, said: 'On behalf of Merton's governing body I would like to say that we are absolutely delighted that Professor Irene Tracey has agreed to take over as Warden from October 2019. She will continue Merton's longstanding tradition of having an active and very successful academic at its head, in this case one who was also an undergraduate and graduate student here. With her lively involvement in the wider University and the national and international biomedical and educational community, we feel Merton will be well placed to address the increasing challenges facing higher education in the coming years.'

Professor Tracey is a highly respected neuroscientist who co-founded the Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain in 1998 and was Director of the Centre for ten years until 2015. She has previously held the posts of Head of the Nuffield Division of Anaesthetics and Associate Head of the Medical Sciences Division. She is currently on the council of the MRC. Prior to her career at Oxford she spent two years as a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard.

Other previous incumbents of the Wardenship of Merton College have included Sir Henry Savile, one of the scholars who helped prepare the King James Version of the Bible, and the physician William Harvey, the first person to describe in detail the circulation of blood around the human body. The present Warden, Sir Martin Taylor, is a distinguished mathematician who has served as Vice-President of the Royal Society and was knighted in 2009 for services to science.

Professor Tracey will serve as Warden of Merton College for an initial period of seven years, with the possibility of renewal for up to five years.