Birmingham Professor announced as 'future leader' in Innovation, Enterprise and Research Programme

Prof Alastair Denniston 900
Professor Alastair Denniston

A leading University of Birmingham Professor has been announced as one of the first participants in The Academy of Medical Sciences’ novel Future Leaders in Innovation, Enterprise and Research (FLIER) Programme.

University of Birmingham Professor Alastair Denniston, Consultant Ophthalmologist at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, is one of 17 participants from organisations across the life sciences landscape to have been selected for the first round of the prestigious FLIER leadership programme.

The FLIER Programme aims to equip emerging leaders with skills to help solve the biggest health challenges we will face, and enable them to seize opportunities afforded by new discoveries in science, technology and medicine.

Selected through a competitive process, FLIER will bring together future leaders from academia, the NHS, industry and policy organisations for a two-year, immersive and cross-sector learning experience.

Professor Alastair Denniston, of the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Inflammation and Ageing, said: “I am thrilled to be selected for the FLIER programme. This innovative programme will help equip me to be the most effective leader I can be, working with others across different health, academic and industry sectors to enable a program of change within the delivery of eye health in the UK.

“I am leading a programme of work to utilise the power of new technologies such as modern imaging, health informatics and artificial intelligence to help bring expert eyecare nearer to the patient, moving from the hospital to the high street.

“This is something you cannot do alone, and I am proud to be working with other leaders from across the UK to make this a reality.

“The FLIER programme will help support me as I work with patients, professionals, policy makers, and industry to develop, deliver and continuously evaluate new models of care.”

Professor Martin Humphries FMedSci, chair of the FLIER Programme development Taskforce said: “The first participants of our FLIER leadership programme exemplify what is different about this scheme.

“Drawn from fields as far apart as policy making, industry, academia and healthcare, they share a common desire to challenge the status quo and solve complex and intangible health challenges collaboratively.

“The first cohort will shape the programme as they go through it, leaving a legacy for future participants.

“We look forward to following how this innovative programme enhances the participants’ leadership and collaboration skills, and how this shapes their approach to the pressing health challenges they hope to solve in coming years.”

The FLIER Programme launch event today will bring FLIER participants together with existing leaders in biomedical and health sectors, including the UK’s Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Advisor, the Executive Chair of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the President of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, and the Medical Director of the British Heart Foundation.

Professor Dame Sally Davies DBE FRS FMedSci, Chief Medical Officer for England, who is attending the FLIER launch event said: “Developing leaders with skills to navigate multiple sectors in the biomedical ecosystem will be necessary to help tackle some of the most complex health challenges we face, such as Antimicrobial Resistance and our growing rates of obesity.

“I am looking forward to seeing the FLIER participants develop and redefine what it means to be a leader in biomedical and heath research.”

FLIER was developed with input from a steering group of experts drawn from academia, industry and the NHS, alongside award winning leadership consultants Cirrus. The development of the scheme was funded by the Dennis and Mireille Gillings Foundation and the UK Government through their Investment in Research Talent fund.

The first phase of the programme will expose participants to current national and international leaders across the wider scientific and health ecosystem, and provide face-to-face and virtual workshops, coaching and mentoring to enhance the participants’ knowledge and skills. Later this year the participants will also have the opportunity to increase their network through immersion experiences with other organisations across multiple sectors in the life sciences. In the second year of the programme the participants will undertake a collaborative work-based project, with the support of their cohort, mentor and coaches.


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Notes for Editors

  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions. Its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers, teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.
  • University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) is one of the largest acute care trusts in the NHS, running the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, Birmingham Chest Clinic, Heartlands Hospital, Good Hope Hospital, Solihull Hospital and various community services across the region. It is an NHS Global Digital Exemplar, demonstrating leadership in Digital Healthcare and the real-time application of health informatics to improve patient care. The Trust hosts the Institute of Translational Medicine (ITM), the Birmingham Centre for Rare Diseases (Adult) and leads the West Midlands Genomics Medicine Centre as part of the national 100,000 Genomes Project.
  • Professor Alastair Denniston is part of Midlands HDR UK, which has world-class expertise; a track record in using health data to derive new knowledge, scientific discovery and insight; and works in close partnership with NHS bodies and the public to translate research findings into benefits for patients and populations. Midlands HDR UK is working collaboratively as foundation partners in Health Data Research UK to make game-changing improvements in people’s health by harnessing data science at scale across the UK.
  • The Academy of Medical Sciences is the independent body in the UK representing the diversity of medical science. Our elected Fellows are the UK’s leading medical scientists from hospitals, academia, industry and the public service. Our mission is to advance biomedical and health research and its translation into benefits for society. We are working to secure a future in which:
  1. UK and global health is improved by the best research.
  2. The UK leads the world in biomedical and health research, and is renowned for the quality of its research outputs, talent and collaborations.
  3. Independent, high quality medical science advice informs the decisions that affect society.
  4. More people have a say in the future of health and research.

Our work focusses on four key objectives, promoting excellence, developing talented researchers, influencing research and policy and engaging patients, the public and professionals.