While the country snuffles in the midst of a flu epidemic, Liam Donaldson, the government's chief medical officer, is likely to be suffering one of the biggest headaches.
Kenneth Calman, his predecessor, once described the job as the "epicentre of stress".
Since taking up the post two years ago, Professor Donaldson has declared genetically modified foods safe, warned that thousands of people may eventually suffer from CJD, given the go-ahead for a meningitis vaccination, scolded Richard Branson for causing a mobile phone scare and been at the centre of controversies over the beef on the bone ban.
He also sparked the fury of Cornish tourism by recommending that the safest way to watch last summer's eclipse was on TV.
He has not been afraid to take on ministers either, criticising the government's decision to exempt Formula 1 racing from the ban on tobacco advertising. Reducing cigarette use is "a lifelong commitment".
He was born 50 years ago in Middlesbrough and educated at Rotherham Grammar School and the University of Bristol. He took a masters in anatomy at the University of Birmingham while working as a lecturer.
In 1977, he joined the University of Leicester, becoming a senior lecturer in epidemiology and honorary specialist in community medicine. He also served as a senior admissions tutor and completed a doctorate in medicine. Nine years later, he was appointed regional medical officer and regional director of public health for the Northern Regional Health Authority.
He progressed through regional general manager of Northern and Yorkshire Regional Health Authority to become a regional director in the National Health Service Executive in 1994.
He is author of numerous books and articles and combines devotion to Newcastle United Football Club with interests in rock music and Victorian pottery and porcelain. People is edited by
Harriet Swain and researched by
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