Professor Sir Mark Walport, has been appointed chair of the Imperial College Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC) Strategic Partnership Board.

The Imperial College AHSC is a University-NHS partnership that aims to accelerate the translation of scientific breakthroughs into improvements in human health. Its members are Imperial College London, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Foundation NHS Trust, Imperial College Healthcare NHS TrustThe Royal Marsden NHS Foundation TrustRoyal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust and The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR).

Professor Sir Mark Walport’s career

Sir Mark FRS, FRCP, FRCPath, FMedSci, FRSE, who is an Honorary Distinguished Professor of Medicine at Imperial, left the College in 2003 to become the Director of the Wellcome Trust. He was subsequently the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser and the Head of the Government Office for Science from 2013-2017. Until recently he was the founding Chief Executive of the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and responsible for public funding of research and innovation.

His experience ideally positions him to further drive through the AHSC’s continued focus to advance clinical care and population health through research and education.

Previously, Sir Mark was the first Head of the Division of Medicine at Imperial College from 1997 to 2003,  leading a research team at Hammersmith Hospital that focused on the immunology and genetics of auto-immune diseases, with a specific interest in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

AHSC strategy

The AHSC’s strategy is to use the partnership’s critical mass of clinicians and scientists to reduce the impacts of ill-health; preventing disease wherever possible, detecting disease earlier and developing better treatments.  This has been further exemplified this year in the AHSC’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic where clinicians and researchers have lead pioneering research into COVID-19, carried out and worked to develop a vaccine against the virus.

The AHSC’s Strategic Partnership Board is responsible for monitoring the AHSC’s progress. It is made up of board level representatives from the NHS Partner Trusts, ICR and Imperial, providing a direct line to the leadership of each partner organisation.

Role of the chair

As chair, Sir Mark will have a key role in the development of the AHSC’s strategy and oversight of its delivery, and ensuring the alignment and accountability of the partner organisations for the shared mission of the AHSC.

Sir Mark said: “Imperial College AHSC is at the forefront of medical innovation and this has been highlighted further by the AHSC’s swift and effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The work carried out by the AHSC partnership has served as an exemplar of what collaboration can achieve.

As chair, I look forward to working with the AHSC partnership to ensure that we deliver on our bold strategy that aims to further drive excellence in research, education and clinical practice so we can improve the health of patients and the population in the UK and beyond.”

Welcoming Professor Sir Mark Walport to the role, Professor Jonathan Weber, Director of Imperial College AHSC, said:

“Throughout his distinguished career Sir Mark  has been a formidable and inspirational leader. He’s advocated and championed the health and science work carried out in the UK through his government positions and his most recent role in the UKRI.  I am thrilled that Professor Sir Mark Walport will play a key role in our AHSC and his expertise, knowledge and experience will be of enormous benefit.  We have an ambitious strategy that when delivered will have a positive impact on the lives and health of patients and the wider population both in West London and beyond. I look forward to working with Sir Mark as we further expand our efforts to deliver excellence in research, clinical care and education.”