New Chief Scientist in Scotland

Posted on February 10, 2012 by

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Lots happening in Scotland this week. Yesterday the Chief Scientist Office announced their new Chief Scientist – Andrew Morris. This is great news alongside the recently appointed Minister for Learning, Science and Scottish languages, Alasdair Allan, but we’re still waiting for the new Chief Scientific Adviser to the government to be announced, this post was advertised before Christmas.

Also this week, the Chief Scientist Office announced more funding for life sciences – called the NHS Research Scotland Innovation fund, the Chief Scientist Office has £600,000 over the next three years to support collaborations to develop innovations arising from the NHS with local Scottish companies.

Background

The Chief Scientist Office is part of the Scottish government. It supports research initiated by the Scottish research community, investing £65.5 million in NHS related research in 2009-10. It also advises the Scottish Government Health Directorates on how research contributes to improvements in health and healthcare. See the Office’s long-term strategy for Scottish health research here.

The Chief Scientist Office has a Chief Scientist. Until recently this was Sir John Saville but he moved down to London to head up the Medical Research Council in July 2010 and the post has since been vacant.

The Chief Scientific Adviser to the Scottish government, Anne Glover, recently moved to a new role in Europe, leaving this post vacant also and raising concerns that the Scottish government was without independent, expert scientific advisors.

Together with a group of charities funding health research in Scotland, we wrote to Alex Salmond to raise our concerns, and MEP Richard Simpson raised this  in the Scottish parliament

Richard Simpson (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Scottish Labour): To ask the Scottish Executive when it became aware that the previous director of the Chief Scientist Office would be ending his/her employment contract; when the post became vacant, and when the vacancy was advertised.
(S4W-05124)

John Swinney: The Scottish Government is not aware of any employment contracts which have come to an end. The director of the Chief Scientist Office post has not been vacant and has therefore not been advertised. The duties of the post have been covered on a temporary basis since 24 January 2011.

Richard Simpson (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Scottish Labour): To ask the Scottish Executive for what reason the posts of Chief Scientist and director of the Chief Scientist Office have not been filled on a permanent basis for 16 and 12 months respectively.
(S4W-05127)

John Swinney: The post of Chief Scientist was reviewed in the context of a wider review of the provision of scientific advice across government. It was decided that this role should remain. The post was advertised following the review and the successful candidate will be announced shortly. The post of director Chief Scientist Office is not vacant.

The Chief Scientist Office currently has an interim director, Mike Stevens, hence the questions over the role being vacant.

What now?

We’re waiting to hear who the new Chief Scientific Adviser to the Scottish government will be – and it’s time to go and meet all these new faces and talk medical research!

Posted in: Policy