Southampton Professor to lead health research regulatory body

The Health Research Authority (HRA) has announced that Professor Matt Westmore from the Faculty of Medicine has been appointed as its new Chief Executive.

The HRA is one of a number of bodies responsible for the regulation and governance of health and social care research in the UK. Its primary role is to protect and promote the interests of patients and the public in research, as well as to streamline the regulatory process.

Prof Westmore will take up the post in February 2021 and will lead the regulator as it continues to play a crucial role in the response to COVID-19.

Since 2008, Prof Westmore has worked within the Faculty of Medicine’s Wessex Institute, the University’s largest enterprise unit. Matt is currently the Director of the Institute. The Wessex Institute is a major partner of the UK’s National Institute for Health Research and a world-leader in setting the standards on funding the right research as well as publishing, disseminating, and reviewing research to inform policy and practice. His focus has been on public involvement, research transparency, integrity and reducing avoidable waste.

Speaking of his new appointment, Prof Westmore said: “Never before has research and its regulation had such a high profile or been so important to so many peoples’ lives. Being appointed Chief Executive of the Health Research Authority is a great honour but it is also bittersweet. I am excited about where I am going but I am also sad to leave. I did my undergraduate and Ph.D at Southampton and have worked for the University in the Wessex Institute for the last 12 years. I could not be more proud of that or more grateful to the University as an institution, and the wonderful friends and colleagues I have had the privilege to learn, develop and work with along the way.”

Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Diana Eccles said, “Matt has been a fantastic colleague and I wish him the very best for his exciting move to HRA, they are very lucky to have him and I know he will be as effective and appreciated there as he has been during his time at the Wessex Institute, most recently as Director.

“He will be greatly missed by all of us in the Faculty of Medicine, he has been a great contributor and supporter to the Faculty Leadership team in so many different ways and provided inspirational examples of how to support diversity in the workplace.”

Professor Chris Whitty, the UK government’s Chief Medical Adviser said: “The HRA has been an integral part of the research response to the COVID pandemic, helping to ensure that vital studies can start quickly, but after proper ethical review. I know that Professor Westmore has the skills and expertise to lead the organisation into the next phase as it continues to ensure that high quality health and social care research improves people’s health and wellbeing.”

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