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New MRC Chief Executive announced

30 July 2010


Sir John Savill is to take the helm as Chief Executive and Deputy Chair of the Medical Research Council. The appointment was announced today by Vince Cable, the Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills. Sir John will take up the position on 1 October 2010.


Announcing the appointment, the Secretary of State said:


“I am pleased to welcome Sir John Savill as the new Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council. He has an excellent background as a clinician scientist and is highly regarded in the research and clinical academic communities. With his extensive experience in leadership roles he will be a great asset to the Council.


“As an important funder of medical research and high quality postgraduate training, the MRC has a crucial role to play in meeting some of the major challenges our country faces to improve people’s health and wellbeing.”


Sir John Savill said:


“I am thrilled to be joining the MRC at a time when there are such bright prospects for the UK to play a leading role in the international effort to beat disease through interdisciplinary discovery science.  To ensure rapid translation into health and wealth gains, I look forward to working through the Office for Strategic Coordination of Health Research (OSCHR), with the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), the devolved administrations and the Technology Strategy Board (TSB).By retaining a University base, I will remain grounded in the realities of medical research in which partnerships with charities, industry, patients and public are so important in developing research and research leaders for the future.”


Sir John Chisholm, Chair of the Medical Research Council, said:


“As an academic, clinician and key strategic leader, Sir John Savill is the perfect choice to take the reins as our new chief executive. He will bring his expertise in science and policy along with him, helping the MRC build on its strong tradition of world class medical research that has a real impact on everyday health in the UK. As we head into a new era in our history, the MRC’s ability to deliver economic and social benefits through our work will continue to take centre stage and I’m sure under Sir John’s guidance, the MRC will go on to even greater strengths.”  


Sir John Savill has held the role of Vice-Principal and Head of the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, University of Edinburgh, since 2002. Since 2008, he has also worked part-time as the Chief Scientist for the Scottish Government Health Directorates.


Sir John started out in his career with a degree in Physiological Sciences from Oxford in 1978, followed by a post-graduate degree in Medicine (Sheffield) in 1981 and received a PhD (London) in 1989.


After junior hospital appointments in Sheffield, Nottingham and London, he spent seven years in the Department of Medicine at the Hammersmith Hospital. In 1993, he moved to the Chair of Medicine, Nottingham, and then in 1998 became Professor of Medicine, Edinburgh, where he was the first Director of the University of Edinburgh/MRC Centre for Inflammation Research. He was a member of the Medical Research Council from 2002 to 2008 and chaired two Research Boards during this period. Sir John was knighted in the 2008 New Year’s Honours List for services to clinical science.


Sir John will retain an ongoing, research-active involvement with the University of Edinburgh part-time.


The appointment is for three years. Sir John will take up post on 1 October 2010 as successor to Sir Leszek Borysiewicz.


Vince Cable also today announced the reappointment of Sir John Chisholm as Chair of the MRC.


Announcing the reappointment, the Secretary of State said:


“I am delighted that Sir John Chisholm has agreed to remain as Chair of the Medical Research Council for another term of appointment. He has contributed to the important work of the Council and will continue to play a key leadership role as the MRC’s new Chief Executive takes up his position”.


Sir John Chisholm said:


“I am delighted to be reappointed in my role as Chair and look forward to building on the MRC’s achievements over the next two years. In the exciting and challenging time ahead, I look forward to working alongside Sir John Savill and all of the dedicated staff at the MRC to help tackle the major health challenges of the 21st century head on.”


The reappointment is for two years from 1 October 2010.



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