Canvassing cancer research staff at the University of Nottingham, which last year accepted funding from British American Tobacco, has placed Gordon McVie, director general of the Cancer Research Campaign, back in the spotlight.
Professor McVie, who turned 56 last week, is accustomed to holding the gaze of the world. He has used his prestigious position to attack the National Health Service's woeful record on cancer-related deaths and succeeding in making cancer care one of the government's top priorities.
Professor McVie has also highlighted the promise of genetic therapies for treating cancer and predicted that by 2050, there would be no need for a Cancer Research Campaign.
He has worked at the Cancer Research Campaign, now contemplating merger with the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, since 1989, when he joined as its scientific director, rising to become the first scientist to attain the post of director general in 1996.
Professor McVie's work on developing anti-cancer drugs has led to his being targeted by animal rights activists. His name is believed to be on a hit list for assassination and his home has been placed under police guard.
Yet, the professor is an animal lover - he apparently insisted that his two labradors, sporting heart-shaped balloons, accompany his bride Claudia at their wedding in August 1998.
Educated at the Royal High School in Edinburgh, he gained his medical degree from the University of Edinburgh in 1978.
He has since worked at the University of Glasgow and the Amsterdam-based Netherlands Cancer Institute. He is currently a visiting professor at the British Postgraduate Medical Federation, University of London.
Professor McVie has three sons from a previous marriage.
People is edited by Alison Goddard and researched by Lynne Williams. Send all information to Lynne Williams, The THES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX; tel 020 7782 3375.