Reproductive health researcher named as Dean of the NIHR Academy

Professor Waljit Dhillo has been appointed as the new Dean of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Academy.

The NIHR Academy is responsible for providing research training to NHS staff and wider healthcare researchers so they can address key health issues such as finding new treatments for diseases which could benefit patients and populations. The academy develops and coordinates academic training as well as creating opportunities for health researchers to progress in their career.

Professor Dhillo is a consultant endocrinologist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and Professor of endocrinology. His research includes the development of safer IVF treatment for women; robotic sensor technology to diagnose women’s reproductive health problems in real-time; and exploring whether kisspeptin can be used to treat men with common psychosexual disorders, such as low libido. He was previously an NIHR Research Professor and this year was appointed as an NIHR Senior Investigator.

Professor Dhillo, who will start his new role in September, is currently the Training Lead for the Imperial NIHR Biomedical Research Centre and has previously been Chair of the national NIHR Infrastructure Training Forum.    

As Dean of the NIHR Academy, Professor Dhillo will support the delivery and development of NIHR Academy schemes, including the Integrated Academic Training Programme, Personal Research Fellowships, the Integrated Clinical Academic Programme, the Infrastructure Training Forum, as well as a number of Global Health Training Programmes. Working in partnership with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the NIHR Academy CEO, Professor Dhillo will provide oversight on the development and delivery of NIHR research training programmes, to ensure they meet the needs of the current research landscape, as well as identifying future gaps and how to solve them.

Professor Dhillo said “I am thrilled to be appointed as the Dean of the NIHR Academy. It is a huge privilege to be able to serve the academic community and shape the training for the next generation of NIHR's academics. Professor Dave Jones has done a terrific job as the current Dean of the NIHR Academy and I will take on this important NIHR leadership role knowing the NIHR Academy is in excellent shape.  

“I think we still have a lot more to do to ensure equality of opportunity – in the context of equality, diversity and inclusion but also ensuring there are attractive robust academic career paths for researchers from all backgrounds. This will be an exciting challenge which I look forward to delivering with the fantastic NIHR Academy Team and the DHSC Senior Leadership Team.”

As a member of the NIHR Strategy Board Professor Dhillo will advise, influence, and support the development of research training and activities across the NIHR, as well as championing equality, diversity and inclusion across all academic and research activity programmes, schemes and initiatives.  He will also provide advice on policies and strategies for developing and promoting research training especially for healthcare professionals who are not doctors such as midwives, nurses and allied health professionals.  

Dr Louise Wood CBE, Director of Science Research and Evidence at the Department of Health and Social Care and NIHR co-lead, said: “I look forward to welcoming Waljit to his new leadership role in NIHR as Dean of the NIHR Academy and continuing our work together on promoting equality, diversity and inclusivity in the NIHR Academy’s personal award schemes and NIHR more widely. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience on which to draw in building on the tremendous work of Professor Dave Jones, in partnership with Dr Lisa Cotterill, in establishing the NIHR Academy and implementing the recommendations of the “Strategic Review of Training Report, Ten Years On:  Adapting and Evolving to New Challenges in Developing Tomorrow’s Health Research Leaders”.