Chief Medical Officer and Expert adviser

Professor Chris Whitty


Professor Chris Whitty is Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for England, the UK government’s Chief Medical Adviser and head of the public health profession.

Chris is a practising NHS Consultant Physician at University College London Hospitals (UCLH) and the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, and a visiting professor at Gresham College.

Chris is an epidemiologist and has undertaken research and worked as a doctor in the UK, Africa and Asia. He was Professor of Public and International Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) before becoming CMO and remains an honorary professor.

Chris was the Chief Scientific Adviser for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) from January 2016 to August 2021, with overall responsibility for the department’s research and development, including being head of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the government’s major funder of clinical, public health, social care and translational research.

Chris was the interim Government Chief Scientific Adviser from 2017 to 2018, including during the Novichok poisonings. Before that, he was the Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department for International Development (DFID), which included leading technical work on the West Africa Ebola outbreak and other international emergencies.

Conflicts of interest:

  • honorary professor, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) (unpaid)
  • consultant physician, University College London Hospital and Hospital for Tropical Diseases (UCLH) (unpaid)
  • honorary member, National Fever Service (unpaid)
  • visiting professor, Gresham College (stipend)
  • International Scientific Advisory Board, Malawi/Liverpool Wellcome Unit (unpaid)
  • non-executive trustee, Sightsavers charity (unpaid)
  • expert adviser to Active Travel England (unpaid)

Annual reports

The Chief Medical Officer has a duty to publish an annual report.

Professor Whitty has published 4 annual reports so far:

In December 2022, the UK Chief Medical Officers, Government Chief Scientific Adviser, UK Deputy Chief Medical Officers, the NHS England National Medical Director and UK Health Security Agency Chief Executive published a technical report on the scientific, public health and clinical aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the 4 nations of the UK.


Professor Whitty is also a visiting professor at Gresham College and Emeritus Gresham Professor of Physic (the term for medicine when the post was created in 1597) at the college. His lectures are aimed at the general public and cover a wide range of medical and public health topics, including: infectious diseases, chronic diseases such as stroke, diabetes and dementia, major cancers and current debates in public health and medicine.

View the lecture recordings

Chief Medical Officer

The Chief Medical Officer (CMO) acts as the UK government’s principal medical adviser, and the professional head of all directors of public health in local government and the medical profession in government.

The CMO provides public health and clinical advice to ministers in the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and across government.

The CMO is an independent position at permanent secretary level.

The CMO is supported by 3 Deputy Chief Medical Officers:

Follow the CMO on Twitter.

Department of Health and Social Care

Expert adviser

Professor Chris Whitty is also an expert adviser to Active Travel England. Expert advisers support Active Travel England’s aim to make walking, wheeling and cycling the first choice for everyday trips.

Active Travel England

Previous roles in government

  • Interim Head of Government Science and Engineering Profession
  • Interim Government Chief Scientific Adviser
  • Deputy Government Chief Scientific Adviser
  • DHSC Chief Scientific Adviser
  • DFID Chief Scientific Adviser