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Prof Sir John Savill appointed Executive Director to the MACH

Sir John Savill wears a blue tie and dark suit and smiles at the camera.
Sir John Savill

A message from Professor Shitij Kapur:

As Chair of the Executive Board of the Melbourne Academic Centre for Health (MACH) Board, I am pleased to announce the appointment of internationally-renowned clinician scientist Professor Sir John Savill as the new Executive Director for the advanced health research and translation centre.

John comes to the MACH from the University of Edinburgh where he serves as the Regius Professor of Medical Science. John joined the University of Edinburgh in 1998 and in that time has developed the university’s clinical medical research capacity to a point that it rivals Britain’s top universities, taking research income from £30m per annum to £230m today.

From 2002-2018, John was Vice Principal and Head of the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine at the University of Edinburgh. Alongside this role, he was also Chief Scientist in the Scottish Government Health Directorates from 2008–2010 and Chief Executive at the Medical Research Council (MRC) from 2010–2018 where he was responsible to the UK Parliament for expenditure of around £800m per year. John played crucial roles in establishing the six-partner Francis Crick Institute in London, guiding the collaboration of 10 funders to create Health Data Research UK, and driving forward formation of the multi-site three-partner UK Dementia Research Institute to support the personal interest of then Prime Minister David Cameron.

John practised as a consultant in renal medicine and acute medicine and developed his research interest into the molecular processes of inflammation, with his most influential work being on mechanisms by which scavenger cells recognise and safely clear cells being eliminated by programmed death (apoptosis). As Principal Investigator, he has secured more than £25m in competitive research grants, supervised more than 40 PhD students, post-doctoral fellows and clinical fellows and published more than 100 research papers, 47 of which have been cited over 100 times and three over 1000 times. John was knighted in 2008 for services to clinical science and was elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and Fellow of the Royal Society, amongst many other honours.  

In his new role of Executive Director, John will provide strategic oversight and operational management to the MACH as it works with its partners to assist the translation of research into improved healthcare delivery that results in enhanced patient and community outcomes. In addition, John will also play an important role in coordinating the response of MACH partners to major MRFF initiatives. The MACH Board is delighted to have attracted someone of John’s calibre to Melbourne and we look forward to him building upon the momentum gained under the leadership of Professor Cheryl Jones and Interim Executive Director Professor David Story.

University of Melbourne Vice Chancellor, Professor Duncan Maskell, said: “Professor Sir John Savill is a leading figure in the global medical research community and I am delighted that he has been appointed as the new Executive Director of the MACH. Through his knowledge and experience, Sir John will make a significant contribution to the organisation.”

Professor Richard Fox, Chair of the MACH Council, said: “John is a highly-regarded and influential figure in promoting research excellence and we’re thrilled that he is bringing his expertise to Melbourne, helping to direct the future development of the MACH’s programs and fostering our important role at a national and international level.”

Of his new role, John says: “I am delighted to be joining the MACH team. All my experience tells me that this powerful collaboration is poised to marry world-leading health research with cutting-edge clinical practice and outstanding multi-professional training, with the result that patients in Victoria and further afield will benefit from tomorrow’s healthcare today.”

The MACH Board owes a debt of gratitude to Professor David Story, Interim Executive Director from November 2018 to July 2019, who has guided the MACH through this transition period with his considerable expertise, his great skill at building relationships and his characteristic good humour. David will continue as Interim Executive Director until John joins the MACH in July this year and I look forward to his continuing contributions. In the meantime, John can be reached at his local email  john.savill@unimelb.edu.au.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the MACH’s Deputy Director Dr Shane Huntington who will be returning to his substantive strategy role at the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences. Shane has been instrumental to the establishment and development of the MACH. Working closely with former Dean Professor James Angus and the CEO of St Vincent’s Hospital Professor Patricia O’Rourke, Shane helped lay the foundations for the MACH, resulting in its formal recognition as an academic health science centre and subsequently attracting more than $8m in MRFF research funding. The MACH Board thanks Shane for his extensive contributions and the Faculty looks forward to his ongoing strategy work.

​ Warm regards,

Professor Shitij Kapur
Chair of the Executive Board, MACH
Dean, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences
Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Health)
University of Melbourne

This article appears courtesy of our proud precinct partner, MACH Australia