Former chief medical officer for both Scotland and England, Professor Sir Kenneth Calman, is the new chair of the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI), it was announced today Tuesday 1 April.

Prof Calman will take up the post with immediate effect. He takes over from the national cancer director for England, Professor Mike Richards, who steps down after two years in the role.

Professor Richards will continue to be a member of the NCRI board.

The NCRI, which is a UK-wide organisation, consists of 20 government and charity partners as well as the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry. It was set up in 2001 to facilitate joint planning for cancer research. In total, NCRI partners have an annual spend on cancer research exceeding £400M.

I’m delighted Professor Calman has been appointed as chairman. Sir Kenneth will bring his extensive experience as a cancer clinician, a researcher and as a senior manager to this role. The NCRI has continued to go from strength to strength in recent years and its role has never been more important. The country’s growing ageing population means that the number of people who get cancer will continue to go up. And this presents a number of challenges for the future.

Professor Richards

In his role as chief medical officer for England, Professor Calman co-authored a report* which recommended the radical restructuring of cancer services to improve treatment outcomes and reduce inequalities. The report was the precursor to the government’s Cancer Plan, which delivered this restructuring.

Kenneth Calman was professor of oncology at the University of Glasgow. He is currently chancellor of the university and will take up his new role with the NCRI in addition to this post. He is also a Cancer Research UK trustee and a former member of the World Health Organisation’s executive board.

I’m joining the NCRI at an exciting time – just as the organisation enters a new five-year strategic plan. Cancer research is a fast moving field and we will be focussing on new priorities – such as providing care and support for cancer survivors, and early detection and diagnosis. The strategic planning and coordination that the NCRI provides will be crucial in delivering on these. We will help the funders understand the challenges of supporting research in these areas, and we will develop joint plans to promote and deliver this work.

Professor Calman