Together with the existing eight board members, the new appointees will help ensure the effective governance and development of Health Data Research UK (HDR UK) and provide oversight on the delivery of the Institute’s strategy with the Director and the Senior Leadership Team.

Dr Graham Spittle, Chair of Health Data Research UK said:

“I am delighted to be welcoming Alison, Andrew, Ara, Claire and Mark to the Board of Health Data Research UK.

“They are joining us at a vital inflection point as we approach our second five years and implement our ambitious new strategy.

“Their wealth of knowledge and expertise will complement the strengths of our Senior Leadership Team and will be invaluable to HDR UK as it moves forward to delivering on the mission to unite the UK’s health data to make discoveries that improve people’s lives.” 

Claire Bithell

Claire is a Science Communications Consultant with over 20 years’ experience communicating high-profile scientific research and policy using traditional, digital and social media.

During this time, she has held senior roles at a variety of organisations, including the Academy of Medical Sciences, the Human Tissue Authority, The Institute of Cancer Research and the Science Media Centre.

Claire has written widely about science in the media and has worked on numerous projects aimed at improving the communication of science, including contributing to the Science Media Centre’s ‘Changing Role of Science Press Officers’ report, supporting the development of a new labelling system for science press releases, and running a consultation on how mental health is portrayed in the media.

She holds a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Manchester and was the winner of the Daily Telegraph’s Young Science Writer of the Year Award in 2003.

Professor the Lord Darzi of Denham

Professor Darzi is Co-Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London and holds the Paul Hamlyn Chair of Surgery. He is a Consultant Surgeon at Imperial College NHS Trust and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.

Professor Darzi also chairs the NHS Accelerated Access Collaborative, is Co-Director of the NHS Digital Academy and previously served for seven years as a Non-Executive Director of NHS England and NHS Improvement. He is also Chair for the Pre-emptive Medicine and Health Security Initiative at Flagship Pioneering UK plc.

In recognition of his academic achievements, Professor Darzi has been elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, a Fellow of the Royal Society, an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. He is also a past president of the British Science Association.

In 2002, Professor Darzi was knighted for his services to medicine and surgery, and in 2007 he was introduced as Lord Darzi of Denham to the UK’s House of Lords as the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health. He has been a member of Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council since 2009 and was awarded the Order of Merit in 2016.

Andrew Elder

Andrew Elder is Deputy Managing Partner at Albion Capital Group LLP, a leading independent venture capital investment company.

He initially practised as a surgeon, specialising in neurosurgery before joining the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) as a consultant in 2001.

Andrew focuses on health care and life science technologies, including digital health, and has served on the boards of companies ranging from diagnostics, imaging and software to pharmaceuticals and biomarkers.

He holds an MA and a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery from Cambridge University and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (England).

Sir Mark Walport

Mark Walport is Honorary Distinguished Professor of Medicine at Imperial College and chairs Imperial College Health Partners and the Imperial College Academic Health Sciences Centre.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, he was Professor of Medicine and Head of the Division of Medicine at Imperial College London, where he led a research team focussing on the immunology and genetics of rheumatic diseases.

From 2003 to 2013, Sir Mark took on the directorship of the Wellcome Trust before taking up the role of Government Chief Scientific Adviser (GCSA) and Head of the Government Office for Science.

Most recently, he was the first Chief Executive of United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI).

Sir Mark received a knighthood in the 2009 New Year Honours List for services to medical research and was elected a Fellow of The Royal Society in 2011.

Alison Wilcox

After beginning her career in the NHS, Alison Wilcox moved on to a diverse range of roles spanning management consultancy, HR business partnering, strategy and leadership roles with international businesses Hay Group, Vodafone and BT plc.

Most recently, she was Group HR Director for BT plc, working to shape and drive a comprehensive enterprise-wide transformation agenda to modernise and simplify the business in parallel with creating new digital platforms, businesses and experiences to drive improvements for customers.

She stepped down from BT earlier this year.