My ambitions for a fulfilling year ahead

Professor Jonathan Weber
This is my first month as Acting Dean of the Faculty, following Gavin Screaton’s departure to become Head of the Division of Medical Sciences at Oxford at the end of September. After 14 very successful years at Imperial, we wish Gavin every success as he takes on his new challenge.

My first few weeks in this role have been busy (inevitably) and fascinating in equal measure; I have been briefed on all the very wide responsibilities which sit with the Dean. It has helped that three of the four Deans of Faculty at Imperial are also in their first month, and we have been learning from each other. Within the Faculty we also welcome two new members of staff to the senior management team this month:

  • Dr Chris Watkins has joined us as Faculty Operating Officer from the MRC, where he was Director of Innovation, as well as having recently completed a part-time secondment as Head of Knowledge Exchange for the Francis Crick Institute.
  • Dr Des Walsh has taken up post as Director of Research Strategy for the Faculty, bringing to this role a wealth of experience from his last roles as Head of Infections and Immunity and, most recently, Head of Population & Systems Medicine at the MRC.

I look forward to working with both Chris and Des and all the senior leads here to support the Faculty’s work over the coming year.

Focus on education

2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the creation of the School of Medicine at Imperial. Much has changed over this period, and change is still in the air. On my very first day in this role it was a particular privilege to have been able to welcome our new first year undergraduates not only for our MBBS/BSc but also the inaugural intake of our brand new BSc in Medical Biosciences – the fruit of a significant and innovative educational effort for which I thank all who have contributed. We are also in the midst of review of our MBBS curriculum, working to embed the aims of the College Learning and Teaching Strategy within the pedagogy and structure of this major course.

Research outlook

On the research front, the ultimate agreements over Brexit will determine our research strategy in Europe. Our Academic Health Science Centre will need to address and negotiate the translational research clusters envisaged in the Government’s Life Sciences Industrial Strategy. The Global Challenges Research Fund demands a cross-College multidisciplinary approach to tackling the major questions in global health. We will also begin to prepare for the key quality framework exercises of TEF and REF, which will have such a critical bearing on our long-term reputation and resourcing of our activities.  I am delighted to announce that Prof Paul Elliott (School of Public Health) has agreed to chair the Faculty’s REF committee, preparing now for REF 2021.

Supporting our Faculty community

I am clear that, if we are to achieve success and enjoy our work as a Faculty, we must take note of the results of this year’s Staff Survey. Throughout the year we will be taking forward actions we have agreed with all the HoDs to improve as an organisation in areas which you have highlighted in your responses as areas to work on. I firmly believe that everybody in the Faculty has an important part to play in our success, and I shall be working with all the HoDs and Heads of Section to promote staff development at all levels.

Communication is key to everything in such a large Faculty, and you will hear more on this topic over the coming months. To support this, I will be coming with all the Faculty senior management team to each campus over the coming weeks to meet with all of you, to talk about the Faculty and key opportunities for us as an academic community. You can find details of upcoming sessions, beginning with lunchtime sessions at Charing Cross on 2 November and Hammersmith on 8 November on the faculty staff webpages – do please come along to one of these events.

This will be the first of regular updates from me on developments within and beyond the Faculty. I hope such updates will be helpful to you in providing context to some aspects of what is happening within the Faculty.  I also encourage you to ensure your own activity and achievements are seen and heard across the Faculty – through our newsletters, blogs and College events.  The more we showcase our work to each other and the world, the more interesting and fulfilling our workplace becomes.

In the meantime, may I wish you a successful and, above all, a satisfying year.

Jonathan Weber is the Jefferiss Professor of Communicable Diseases and GU Medicine, and is the Acting Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College London.

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