THE British Heart Foundation (BHF) has appointed distinguished research leader and NHS Consultant Physician, Professor Bryan Williams, as its first Chief Scientific and Medical Officer.
Professor Williams will join the charity’s Executive Group in Autumn 2023 and succeed Professor Sir Nilesh Samani (Medical Director) in leading the BHF’s research and medical strategy.
Professor Williams is recognised as one of the UK’s most influential scientific and clinical leaders. He is Chair of Medicine at University College London (UCL), Director of the NIHR University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre, and UCLH Director of Research. In these roles, Professor Williams oversees one of the largest clinical research portfolios in the UK, with over 1,000 active clinical trials.
Professor Williams is also an NHS Consultant Physician at UCLH and a Senior Director and Board Member of UCLH NHS Foundation Trust.
Dr Charmaine Griffiths, the BHF’s Chief Executive, said:
“It is a pleasure to welcome Bryan to our brilliant British Heart Foundation team.
“Bryan joins us at a moment when BHF has never been more needed, with millions of people turning to us for support through such challenging times. Our incredible BHF researchers are on the cusp of turning science fiction into reality and we’ve appointed a research leader with the vision, scientific track record, and leadership skills to accelerate the research advances that people with heart and circulatory diseases so desperately need.
“As the UK’s leading independent funder of cardiovascular research, I know Bryan will provide exceptional leadership to the BHF’s medical activities – from the lifeline of information and support we provide to millions of people every month, to maximising the impact of our research to tackle the world’s biggest killers.”
As the BHF’s Chief Scientific and Medical Officer, Professor Williams will be responsible for setting BHF’s vision and funding strategy for cardiovascular research and enhancing the charity’s scientific influence on the national and international stage.
The BHF is the UK’s largest non-commercial funder of cardiovascular research, and one of the biggest worldwide, funding around £100m of new research each year.
Professor Bryan Williams said:
“The British Heart Foundation is one of the world’s leading authorities and research funders in the cardiovascular field, so it’s an honour to be taking on this important role.
“With heart and circulatory diseases still responsible for around a quarter of all deaths in the UK, we urgently need to accelerate the pace at which we translate promising science into revolutionary breakthroughs in patient care to improve how we prevent, diagnose, and treat these devastating conditions. In this role, I’m determined to see the BHF build on its decades of progress and be a driving force in making this happen. I’m really looking forward to the challenge, and working with BHF’s incredible colleagues, volunteers and supporters.”
In addition to his leadership roles, Professor Williams is a world-leading cardiovascular research expert, with a focus on high blood pressure. Over a 30-year career, he has led research and numerous national and international clinical trials that have changed clinical practice worldwide. This has included identifying the optimal drug treatment for resistant hypertension, which affects around 500,000 people in the UK and 100 million worldwide.
Professor Williams has a long-standing connection to the BHF, with much of his research funded by the charity. He also chaired the BHF’s clinical trials funding committee and has served on numerous BHF research committees.
Professor Williams will succeed Professor Samani, who has led the BHF’s research strategy as Medical Director since 2016.