Patrick Johnston is to replace Peter Gregson, the university’s former head, who stepped down at the end of July.
Cancer expert Professor Johnston has led the development of Queen’s medical school and overseen the university’s Institute of Health Sciences.
The university pro-chancellor Sir David Fell, who chaired the recruitment panel, said of the appointment: “Professor Johnston, a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, is an outstanding academic with a distinguished record of achievement.
“Throughout his career, he has led transformational projects, and combines vision with a determination and passion to deliver change which will benefit society as a whole.”
He added: “As one of the world’s foremost experts in cancer research, he has shown extraordinary leadership in making Queen’s and Northern Ireland a truly innovative world-leading centre for medical research.”
Speaking about his appointment, Professor Johnston said: “This is a proud day for both me and my family and I thank Queen’s University for choosing me to be its next president and vice-chancellor.
“I very much look forward to leading this distinguished institution and working alongside its exceptional staff and students. It is an honour and privilege to be given this opportunity to further develop and enhance the reputation and standing of Queen’s.”