20 Jun 2007   |   Network Updates

Professor Sir Roy Anderson to succeed Sir Richard Sykes as Imperial Rector

Press release from Imperial College

Professor Sir Roy Anderson, a distinguished epidemiologist and currently Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Ministry of Defence, will succeed Sir Richard Sykes to become the 14th Rector of Imperial College London, it is announced today. Sir Roy will take over from Sir Richard in the summer of 2008, when Sir Richard retires after leading Imperial for eight years.

Currently on secondment to the Ministry of Defence, Sir Roy, 60, has held Imperial's Chair in Infectious Disease Epidemiology since 2000. Becoming Rector will crown a 40-year association with the College, which began when he was admitted as a zoology undergraduate in 1965.

The Chairman of Imperial's Council, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, led the international search for its new Rector, carried out by a Search Committee formed in December 2006. The College's Council approved Sir Roy's appointment this week.

Announcing Sir Roy's appointment in a letter to the College community, Lord Kerr said:

"Imperial is a world class research university, and demands a leader with vision, determination and experience, as well as a thorough understanding of the environment in which it operates. Sir Roy more than matches these criteria.

"He is Imperial through and through, and I am delighted that he has agreed to take the top job and will lead Imperial through the first years of its second century.

"Sir Richard Sykes will leave the College in a very strong position, and Sir Roy is an ideal successor, with the talent and enthusiasm necessary to ensure our continued success."

Sir Roy is regarded as one of the world's leading authorities on the epidemiology and control of infectious diseases including the tropical parasitic infections, BSE and vCJD, SARS, AIDS, influenza and foot and mouth. In his career as a scientist he has focused on the use of mathematics, experimental and field observations to predict the way infectious disease outbreaks will spread and how best to control them. He has frequently advised governments and international agencies on public health and biomedical research issues.

As Chief Scientific Adviser to MoD he is in charge of a large research and technology budget, chairs its Investment Approval and Research and Development Boards, is a member of the Defence Management Board and of the Defence Council. His department of Science, Innovation and Technology at the MoD is responsible for 220 civil servants in Whitehall and 3,500 scientists and engineers.

Sir Roy said on his appointment:

"I've always had a very special affinity with Imperial and am very excited about taking on this new and very challenging role. Imperial is a global university, welcoming people from all over the world and all social and cultural backgrounds, and bringing them together in a vibrant and integrated community. Those who come here find a down-to-earth, problem-solving environment that has an extraordinary history of creating opportunity for its talented people. It is a great honour to be asked to lead this very special institution.

"The importance of science, technology and medicine is growing rapidly in an increasingly globalised world. There have been as many scientific advances made in the last five years as there were in the previous 50, and as many in the previous 50 as there were in the 500 before that. Imperial's task is to be at the forefront of this ever accelerating pace of change. I look forward to working with all my outstanding colleagues and our exceptional students so that we make the most of the great opportunities that lie ahead for science, engineering and medicine in the service of society.

"Sir Richard Sykes has done an extraordinary job for Imperial College and the College is fitter than it has ever been. He has put the College firmly on the international map, reminding us always of its founding charter, to apply our endeavours to solving the world's problems. I hope that in my time as Rector I will be able to do as much as Sir Richard to build on all the great achievements of Imperial's first 100 years."

Sir Roy began his academic career as a student at Imperial in the 1960s, receiving a first class Honours degree in zoology in 1968 and his PhD in parasitology in 1971. He has spent much of his career at the College, becoming one of its youngest professors in 1982, at the age of 35.

In 1984 he was made Head of Imperial's Department of Biology, and in 1986 was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. In 1993 he moved to the University of Oxford to become Head of the Department of Zoology and Director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for the Epidemiology of Infectious Disease, before returning to Imperial in 2000 to set up and lead the College's new Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology. He was seconded to the Ministry of Defence as its Chief Scientific Adviser in 2004 and was knighted in the 2006 Queen's Birthday Honours.

Current Rector Sir Richard Sykes, 64, joined Imperial in 2001 from GlaxoSmithKline, where he was Chairman. His time as Rector has seen Imperial rise to be rated as the ninth best university in the world according to the 2006 Times Higher Education Supplement University Rankings.

Sir Richard said:

"I warmly welcome Sir Roy back to Imperial and hope he will enjoy his time here as Rector as much as I have. Imperial is a very special institution to so many people and its future leadership is placed in safe hands. Our new Rector-elect already knows it inside out, cares about it deeply, and is well placed to help it build on the success of its first 100 years. Leading such a dynamic place is a hugely exciting challenge and with so many key projects and milestones approaching, I'm sure that my final time here will be as eventful and packed as all the rest and I look forward to working with Sir Roy to ensure a successful transition."

Sir Roy will take up the post of Rector in the summer of 2008, becoming the 14th person to hold the appointment since the first, Henry Bovey, in 1908. A factsheet about Imperial's Rectors is available to download from www.imperial.ac.uk/aboutimperial/rectorelect

Sir Roy's interests include science and technology policy, public understanding of science, natural history, wildlife photography and hiking. His wife, Dr Claire Baron, is a graduate of the London School of Economics, where she earned her BSc and PhD degrees in sociology.

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