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Health Research Authority announces its next Chief Executive

Last updated on 8 Dec 2020

An expert in research funding, policy and practice who has dedicated his career to maximising the benefits research offers to society has been appointed as the next Chief Executive of the Health Research Authority.

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Professor Matt Westmore, who is currently Director of the Wessex Institute at the University of Southampton, will take up the post in February 2021. He will lead the regulator as it continues to plays a crucial role in the response to COVID-19.

Professor Westmore has previously held roles with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) including as an executive director of the Evaluation Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre (NETSCC). He was also Interim Director of INVOLVE and as a member of the HRA’s Research Transparency Strategy Group, he supported the development of the organisation’s Make it Public strategy for research transparency.

Professor Westmore will succeed Teresa Allen who became HRA Chief Executive in 2018 and has announced her retirement. The appointment has been approved by the Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock.

Professor Sir Terence Stephenson

‘I’m delighted that Professor Matt Westmore has been appointed as the next Chief Executive of the Health Research Authority. I am confident that Matt has the skills and expertise to lead the HRA into the post-COVID world as we work to deliver our ambitious strategy. He has extensive experience in research, where he has prioritised maximising the benefits research can offer to society and is passionate about public involvement and its role in high-quality research.’

HRA Chair Professor Sir Terence Stephenson

The appointment has been welcomed by Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England.

Professor Chris Whitty

‘The HRA has been an integral part of the research response to the COVID pandemic, helping to ensure that vital studies can start quickly, but after proper ethical review. I know that Professor Westmore has the skills and expertise to lead the organisation into the next phase as it continues to ensure that high quality health and social care research improves people’s health and wellbeing.’

Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England
New HRA Chief Executive Professor Matt Westmore

‘Never before has research been such high profile or so important to so many peoples’ lives. The HRA is pivotal to research communities’ responses to COVID-19, supporting the UK life sciences sector, and above all protecting and promoting the interests of patients and the public in health and social care research. I know the HRA well and could not hold the work of the organisation or the team who do it in higher regard. I am excited and privileged to take on this role, building on Teresa’s achievements, and working with Terence and the Board in leading such an impressive organisation in such important times.’

Professor Matt Westmore

The HRA has also paid tribute to Teresa Allen who joined the HRA as Deputy Chief Executive in 2016 and became Interim Chief Executive later in the same year, before being appointed to the role on a permanent basis in 2018.

Professor Sir Terence Stephenson

‘Under Teresa’s leadership the HRA has continued its transformation, most recently offering an exceptional fast-track service to support the research response to the pandemic. With over 40 years of NHS service, Teresa is one of the most dedicated public servants, and we wish her well for her retirement. We will miss her very much.’

HRA Chair Professor Sir Terence Stephenson
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