IHDP Guest Lecture

Published on: 16th May 2018

On Friday, the Innovative Health Care Delivery Programme (IHDP) welcomed Professor Sir John Savill to present our annual lecture. After presentations by Jennifer Dixon of the Health Foundation and Sir Harpal Kumar of Cancer Research UK in the past two years, this year’s topic was “Precision medicine in the UK: from 100,000 whole genomes to 65 million patients”.

Sir John was most recently the Vice‐Principal and Head of the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, and Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council.

The lecture was a great success with a sell-out of tickets and a full house on the day. After an introduction by our Director Professor Aileen Keel, Sir John began the lecture by asking why drugs are sometimes efficient and sometimes not, before giving several examples to show that “we need stratified/precision medicine to deliver better therapies.”

He praised Genomics England for having shown that full genome analysis can have a direct benefit for patients, especially in cancer as it is a disease of disordered genomes.

“Scotland is a goldmine for data research,” Sir John praised, before saying that the UK could weave the richest health data tapestry in the world. While this would be complicated and difficult, it could revolutionise medicine.

Part of this effort will be the new institute Health Data Research UK (HDR UK), whose Director, Professor Andrew Morris, thanked Sir John at the end of the lecture and agreed that HDR UK will play a vital role in modernising public health and encouraging the use of health data in research.

We would like to thank Sir John for his time; his message could not have been more in line with the IHDP’s ambitions.

Professor Aileen Keel and Professor Sir John Savill

The IHDP hosts an annual lecture to bring a variety of sectors together to encourage innovative ideas. The next annual lecture will be in spring 2019.

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Prof Sir John Savill
Professor Sir John Savill

About Professor Sir John Savill:

John Savill graduated in Physiological Sciences from Oxford in 1978 and in Medicine from Sheffield in 1981. He 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 Royal Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith Hospital, with spells as an MRC Clinical Training Fellow and Wellcome Trust Senior Clinical Research Fellow.

In 1993, he moved to the Chair of Medicine at Nottingham; subsequently moving in 1998 to Edinburgh as Professor of Medicine where he set up and became the first Director of the University of Edinburgh/Medical Research Council Centre for Inflammation Research.

Between 2002 and 2017 he served as the first Vice-Principal and Head of the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine; he was appointed to the Regius Chair of Medical Science in 2017.

From 1st June 2008 to 30th September 2010, he was Chief Scientist for the Scottish Government Health Directorates (part-time).

On 1st October 2010 he was appointed as Chief Executive and Deputy Chair of the Medical Research Council, combining this with Head of College duties in Edinburgh; he demitted from the MRC at the end of March 2018.

His work has been recognised by fellowships of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of London and Edinburgh, the Academy of Medical Sciences, the American Society of Nephrology, The Royal Society of Edinburgh, The Royal Society and an honorary fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. He was a member of the Medical Research Council from 2002 to 2008 and chaired two Research Boards during this period. He was knighted in the 2008 New Year’s Honours List for services to clinical science.


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