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Observations BMJ Confidential

Scott Wilkes: Sunderland’s got talent

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 16 January 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l95
Duncan Smith


Scott Wilkes, 51, is head of a new school of medicine being established at the University of Sunderland. A GP for 25 years, he still practises part time in north Tyneside and is professor of general practice and primary care at Sunderland. He has worked for the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) for over 10 years on the Clinical Research Network and as chair of the Yorkshire and North East Committee on Research for Patient Benefit. The son of a Northumberland fruit seller, he aims to make the new medical school a source of opportunity for many young people who lack the social advantages that often ease entry into medicine. The school opens in September 2019.

What was your earliest ambition?

To be a professional golfer. Unfortunately, the lowest golf handicap I’ve managed is 4. I’m clinging on to this standard.

What was your best career move?

Being coerced to apply to chair the NIHR’s Research for Patient Benefit North East Committee. I took this opportunity to visit most of the trusts and universities in the north east. This led to a conversation at Sunderland University, which led to a personal chair.

What was the worst mistake in your career?

I took central teaching house …

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