Oxford professor Angela McLean named UK chief scientific adviser

Science community welcomes appointment, which follows creation of dedicated Whitehall department

February 20, 2023
Source: UK government

A University of Oxford professor has been named the UK government’s chief scientific adviser (GCSA), becoming the first woman to hold the role.

Dame Angela McLean, a professor of mathematical biology, will take up the post on 1 April.

Her predecessor, Sir Patrick Vallance, played a key role in advising the government on the Covid-19 pandemic during his five-year term.

Dame Angela, who is currently chief scientific adviser for the Ministry of Defence, was selected by the prime minister, Rishi Sunak, after an open competition.

The creation of a new Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) means that she joins government at a “pivotal time”, said Dame Anne Johnson, president of the Academy of Medical Sciences.

“The GCSA has an essential role in championing the opportunities that scientific research brings, including leading innovation, boosting economic growth and improving the health of the nation,” she said.

“As we saw during the pandemic, research is vital for protecting the UK from future health threats.”

Dame Angela regularly attended the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) during the pandemic and co-chaired a subgroup that prepared advice using epidemiology, data analysis and mathematical modelling. Her research interests lie in the use of mathematical models to aid our understanding of the evolution and spread of infectious agents.

She is the first woman appointed to the role since the position of cross-government chief scientific adviser was created in the 1960s.

The GCSA provides independent scientific advice to the prime minister and members of Cabinet, advises the government on aspects of policy on science and technology, and aims to improve the quality and use of scientific evidence and advice in government.

The post holder is also head of the Government Science and Engineering Profession and is part of the executive team of the DSIT.

Sarah Main, executive director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering, said: “It is exciting to have someone with [Dame Angela’s] depth of experience taking the helm in such a critical role for the sector and country.

“I am looking forward to working with her to put science and engineering at the heart of the UK’s future to improve people’s lives and livelihoods.”

Sir Adrian Smith, president of the Royal Society, said the role of science in society has never been more important.

“Angela is an outstanding scientist and a leader in the science community who has a proven track record of advising the government on aspects of science and technology,” he added.

“With Angela at the helm, we can look forward to science being at the heart of the government’s agenda.”


Register to continue

Why register?

  • Registration is free and only takes a moment
  • Once registered, you can read 3 articles a month
  • Sign up for our newsletter
Please Login or Register to read this article.

Related articles