Press release

Reappointment of chief executive for the Medical Research Council

Professor Sir John Savill reappointed as chief executive and deputy chair of the Medical Research Council (MRC).

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts today announced the reappointment of Professor Sir John Savill as chief executive and deputy chair of the Medical Research Council (MRC).

David Willetts said:

I am delighted that Professor Sir John Savill has been reappointed as chief executive and deputy chair of the MRC in this its centenary year. His extensive experience in academia and the public sector make him very well placed to continue taking forward the council’s aim to support world-leading medical science.

Donald Brydon, Chair of the MRC said:

It is excellent news that Sir John has been reappointed. He has helped to give the Medical Research Council a strong sense of direction and has led in developing links with other bodies emphasising the importance of translation of the research funded by the MRC into tangible benefits.

Sir John said:

I am very pleased indeed to be serving the MRC family and our many stakeholders for a further year. I am particularly pleased with the MRC’s progress in working with industry, developing medical bioinformatics in the UK, and re-shaping the UK medical research eco system to drive both improvements in health and wealth.

The appointment is until 30 September 2014.

Notes for editors

1.The MRC is dedicated to improving human health through world-class medical research. It supports research across the biomedical spectrum, from fundamental lab-based science to clinical trials, and in all major disease areas. More information about MRC can be found at

2.Professor Sir John Savill, a clinician scientist from Edinburgh, began his first term as chief executive and deputy chair of the MRC on 1 October 2010 for an initial three year period. He was a member of the MRC Council from 2002 to 2008 and chaired two MRC Research Boards during this period.

Between 2008 and 2010 John worked part-time as the chief scientist for the Scottish Government Health Directorates. He was knighted in the 2008 New Year’s Honours List for services to clinical science.

John started his research career with a degree in Physiological Sciences from Oxford University in 1978, followed by degrees in Medicine at the University of Sheffield in 1981. He received a PhD from the University of London in 1989.

After junior hospital appointments in Sheffield, Nottingham and London, he spent seven years in the Department of Medicine at 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 the University of Nottingham, then in 1998 became professor of Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, where he was the first director of the University of Edinburgh/MRC Centre for Inflammation Research, directing a group interested in the molecular cell biology of renal inflammation.

In 2002, John was appointed as the first vice-principal and head of the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, University of Edinburgh. He retains an ongoing, research active involvement with the University of Edinburgh part-time throughout his appointment as MRC chief executive.

3.The government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries’. It set four ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’ (PDF 1.7MB), published at Budget 2011:

  • to create the most competitive tax system in the G20
  • to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
  • to encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
  • to create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe.

Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.

Published 18 March 2013