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Four Scientific Directors to join new NIHR Board

new scientific directors

Published: 03 July 2023

The NIHR has appointed four Scientific Directors to its new NIHR Board.

The new Scientific Directors are Professor Danny McAuley, Professor Marian Knight, Professor Mike Lewis and Professor Waljit Dhillo. Each will sit on the NIHR Board in their new roles.

The Board will provide advice to Professor Lucy Chappell, DHSC Chief Scientific Adviser and NIHR CEO, and Dr Gail Marzetti, DHSC Director of Science Research and Evidence.

It will support Prof Chappell and Dr Marzetti in discharging their duties in respect of:

  • Delivering against NIHR’s mission to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research
  • Establishing NIHR’s strategic direction, currently described in Best Research for Best Health: The Next Chapter
  • Setting policy including for research funding
  • Agreeing operational plans and addressing barriers to their delivery
  • Ensuring that NIHR’s nationally distributed structure is cohesive
  • Overseeing relationships with key partners and stakeholders

The NIHR Board is designed to provide a balance of policy, scientific and operational perspectives. In addition to Prof Chappell and Dr Marzetti, the other Board members are:

  • The four Deputy Directors of the Science Research and Evidence Directorate
  • NIHR’s four Scientific Directors
  • NIHR’s four operational leaders (the three Executive Directors of the NIHR Coordinating Centre and the CEO of the NIHR Clinical Research Network)

New Scientific Directors

Professor Danny McAuley is the new Scientific Director for Research Programmes. He will lead on the strategic development of NIHR programmes, working in partnership with the Programme Directors.

Prof McAuley is Director of the NIHR Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation Programme. He is Professor of Intensive Care Medicine at the Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine, Queen's University of Belfast. He is also a Consultant in Intensive Care Medicine at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast.

Professor Marian Knight is the new Scientific Director for Research Infrastructure. She will lead on the strategic development of NIHR’s infrastructure, working in partnership with infrastructure leaders.

Prof Knight is Director of the Programme Grants for Applied Research Programme and is stepping down as Director of the Research for Patient Benefit Programme. She is a theme co-lead within a Biomedical Research Centre linked to a Translational Research Collaboration, working collaboratively with Applied Research Collaboration researchers. She is Professor of Maternal and Child Population Health at the University of Oxford.

Professor Mike Lewis is the new Scientific Director for Innovation. He will be a bridgehead between industry and the NIHR, ensuring that adoption of innovation is accelerated and encouraging inward investment. His role will sit across NIHR programmes and infrastructure.

Prof Lewis is joint Director of the NIHR Invention for Innovation and Small Business Research Initiative for Healthcare programmes. These are the industry-focused research arms of NIHR and NHSE respectively. He is also Professor of Life Science Innovation at the University of Birmingham and has an extensive background in life sciences and digital innovation in healthcare, holding senior industry roles.

Professor Waljit Dhillo has also joined the NIHR Board as the Scientific Director for Research Capacity and Capabilities.

Prof Dhillo is Dean of the NIHR Academy and provides oversight on the development and delivery of NIHR research training programmes. He is a Professor in Endocrinology and Metabolism and Consultant Endocrinologist. He is Head of the Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism at Imperial College London.

All the roles will be performed on a part-time basis.

Prof Lucy Chappell, Chief Executive of the NIHR, said:

“Danny, Marian, Mike and Waljit will bring valuable scientific weight to NIHR’s governance and I’m excited by their appointment. They are all leaders in their respective fields, with first-hand experience of how to get research into policy and practice.

“They will also help us join up NIHR’s distributed structure, identifying and addressing gaps, opportunities and areas of duplication. And they will help us secure and shape the future of NIHR, so that we are even better able to respond to new technologies, new opportunities and changing needs.”

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