The United Kingdom's Medical Research Council has named University of Edinburgh inflammation researcher John Savill as the successor to its current head, Leszek Borysiewicz, who will later this year become vice-chancellor at the University of Cambridge. In addition to studying how the clearance of dying cells in a body affects inflammation, Savill has since 2008 served as the chief scientist for the Scottish Government Health Directorates, a part-time advisory position. Savill, who is director of the University of Edinburgh/MRC Centre for Inflammation Research, has been knighted for his contributions to clinical science, just like Borysiewicz was.
Since the news broke yesterday, British biomedical scientists and policy officials have welcomed the appointment. Simon Denegri, chief executive of the Association of Medical Research Charities, blogged that Savill is a "good appointment at a challenging time for MRC and science" and added, "I have always found him a ready champion of charities and patients in research and his down-to-earth approach a breath of fresh air." Denegri's reference to a "challenging time" may be an understatement. Savill will take over from Borysiewicz on 1 October, just a few weeks before MRC, and Britain's other research-funding councils, learn how much their budgets will be cut by the new coalition government.