Profile: Sir Roy Anderson

June 29, 2007

Sir Roy Anderson comes full circle next year, becoming rector of Imperial College, where he first studied

The leading scientist who acted as a key adviser to the Government during the foot-and-mouth crisis has been appointed head of one of the world's top-ranking universities.

As chief scientific adviser to the Ministry of Defence, Sir Roy Anderson oversees one of the biggest research budgets in Government. But next summer will see him return his full attentions to Imperial College London - where he began his academic career as a student in the 1960s - as rector.

Sir Roy, 60, a pioneer in the epidemiology of infectious diseases, has spent much of his 40-year career at Imperial. He became one of its youngest professors at 35, headed its department of biology in the 1980s and has held the college's chair in infectious disease epidemiology since 2000.

Seven years ago, a stint as Linacre chair of zoology at Oxford ended in embarrassment when he resigned after falsely alleging that a female colleague had slept with the head of zoology before gaining her post.

In the same year, Sir Roy resigned as director of the Wellcome Trust's Centre for the Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases before two inquiries cleared him of financial impropriety but found regulations had been breached and criticised his management.

But he left controversy behind him to return to Imperial, bringing an 80-strong research team to lead its department of infectious disease epidemiology, where expertise includes Aids and HIV, Sars and pandemic influenza, BSE, vCJD, MRSA and bioterrorism. His own research has centred on predicting the way infectious disease outbreaks will spread and how to control them.

Sir Roy succeeds Sir Richard Sykes, who retires after leading Imperial for eight years.

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