Public health chief to join St Andrews

Monday 7 July 2008

Professor Peter Donnelly speaking at Scotland's recent international summit on health inequalities.

Scotland’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer is leaving his Scottish Government post to take up a new Chair at the University of St Andrews where he will lead research in support of national violence reduction strategies.

Professor Peter Donnelly (45) will take up post, as Professor in Public Health Medicine at the Bute Medical School in St Andrews in September 2008.

As Deputy Chief Medical Officer in Scotland since 2004 he has headed the Public Health Professionals Group responsible for providing national advice and leadership in the fields of health protection and health improvement and has been closely involved in shaping policy on immunisation, tobacco control, alcohol misuse, health inequalities, violence reduction and sexual health.

In his new role at St Andrews it is expected that his research will explore key public health challenges, including knife related violence.

Professor Hugh MacDougall, Dean of Medicine in St Andrews, said, “Peter Donnelly is an outstanding talent in Public Health Medicine and we are delighted that he is to join the team in St Andrews to focus on this very important discipline in an academic context.

“He is a major addition to our teaching and research staff and we expect that his work here will offer fresh insights into a number of complex Public Health issues.”

Responding to the news of Professor Donnelly’s appointment, Shona Robison, Scotland’s Minister for Public Health said, “Whilst I will obviously be sorry to lose Peter’s services to the Government, I am delighted that this prestigious new appointment will allow him to continue his career in Scotland.  He has made a significant contribution to improving Scotland’s Public Health during his time in post, not least through his work on alcohol, violence reduction and sexual health.  He has successfully led for us with international partners such as the World Health Organisation and I wish him every continuing success in his new position.”

Professor Donnelly became one of the Britain’s youngest directors of public health when he was appointed to that post at Iechyd Morgannwg Health in South Wales in 1996.

There he triggered much interest with an innovative approach to engaging the wider public through the production of attractive and accessible annual public health reports.

As director, he published one such report as a novel – Bethan’s Story – written from the perspective of a teenage girl facing an unplanned pregnancy and living in a family facing a variety of health problems. He also co-founded Heartstart Cardiff and the Vale which became one of Europe’s largest community cardiac resuscitation training schemes.

Professor Donnelly brought the same approach to his previous post as Director of Public Health and Health Policy at NHS Lothian. His work there included championing projects to tackle accidental injuries in children, unplanned teenage pregnancy and smoking in expectant mothers.

Peter Donnelly was born in Bangor, North Wales, and educated at Perth Academy, where he was head boy, and at Edinburgh University where he graduated in medicine in 1985.

Postgraduate studies in public health and management followed at University of Wales College of Medicine, Stirling and Harvard universities and Edinburgh where he is an honorary Professor of Public Health.

Much of his subsequent career has focused on bridging the gap between public health as an academic discipline and as an NHS service.

He is a past President of the UK Association of Directors of Public Health and former Vice President of the Faculty of Public Health. He has served on many national working groups and given evidence to Parliamentary Committees in Scotland and England as well as to the Welsh Assembly.

Professor Donnelly serves on the steering committee of the Reforming States Group, a bipartisan North American Organisation of senior politicians and policy makers, dedicated to improving access to healthcare and enhancing health outcomes in North America.  This is a unique distinction for a European citizen.

He also works extensively with the World Health Organisation on issues including obesity, health inequalities and violence reduction.

Commenting on his appointment Professor Donnelly said, “I am delighted to be joining a strong team at a very exciting time of development for the Bute Medical School . St Andrews is Scotland’s first University and I am greatly honoured to be given the opportunity to play a part in its future”.


Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews
Contact: Niall Scott, Director of Corporate Communications, on 01334 462244, Mobile 07711 223062 or e-mail [email protected]
Fiona Armstrong, Press Officer, on 01334 462530 / 462529, mobile 07730 415015 or e-mail [email protected]
Ref: Donnelly 070708
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