Intended for healthcare professionals


Negotiating research priorities

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 23 September 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:704
  1. Geoff Watts
  1. London

    Sally Davies has been appointed head of NHS research and development. She tells Geoff Watts that she wants to build on the success of the national cancer research network and do more to involve patients

    Professor Sally Davies, glancing occasionally at the press office's minder across the table, is choosing her words carefully. Once or twice, and quite voluntarily, she retracts her first comment and substitutes something a shade more cautious—a sensible precaution when taking up a new and sometimes high profile job. But on one topic, the science of her specialty, she enthuses without restraint. Entirely apt in someone who's just become John Pattison's successor as director of NHS research and development.

    Davies's specialty is blood. “The wonderful thing about haematology is that there's no other branch of medicine that gives you so much opportunity to look down a microscope and then talk to the patient. The fascination is in bringing molecular medicine into the clinic.” Although this translation from laboratory to clinic is now happening in more and more specialties, haematology was still a pioneer in the process when Davies joined it in 1981.

    Her original decision to choose haematology was fortuitous and taken partly for domestic reasons: “It …

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