UCL News


UCL academic named British Heart Foundation’s Chief Scientific and Medical Officer

21 August 2023

Professor Bryan Williams (UCL Institute of Cardiovascular Science) has been appointed the British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) first Chief Scientific and Medical Officer.

Professor Bryan Williams

Starting in the autumn, he will succeed Professor Sir Nilesh Samani (Medical Director) in leading the BHF’s research and medical strategy. 

Professor Williams will continue as a UCL professor of medicine and honorary consultant physician at UCLH, but will step down from his leadership roles as director of the NIHR UCLH Biomedical Research Centre and director of research at UCLH, where he has had oversight of over £300m of NIHR research funding over the past 10 years and has led one of the largest and most successful biomedical research centres in Europe. 

Professor Williams’s own research and clinical practice is in the field of high blood pressure (hypertension) in which he is recognised as one of the world's leading authorities and is current President of the International Society of Hypertension.

Over a 30-year research career, he has led research and numerous national and international clinical trials that have changed clinical practice worldwide. This has included identifying the optimal drug treatment for resistant hypertension, which affects over 100 million people worldwide.

Relinquishing his leadership roles at UCL and UCLH means that he will be able to continue his research at UCL and clinical practice at UCLH within a much-reduced time commitment when he takes up the BHF role later this year.

As the BHF’s Chief Scientific and Medical Officer, Professor Williams will be responsible for setting BHF’s vision and funding strategy for cardiovascular research and enhancing the charity’s scientific influence on the national and international stage.  

The BHF is the UK’s largest non-commercial funder of cardiovascular research, and one of the biggest worldwide, funding around £100m of new research each year.  

Professor Williams said: “The British Heart Foundation has global recognition as one of the world’s leading authorities and research funders in the cardiovascular field, so it’s an honour to be taking on this important role. My leadership experience here at UCL and UCLH has prepared me well for the challenge.

“Heart and circulatory diseases are largely preventable and yet account for around a quarter of all deaths in the UK. With the extraordinary pace of evolution in scientific techniques, technology and data science, I think we are on the cusp of a major transformation in the way we prevent, diagnose and treat many diseases, including heart and circulatory diseases. But we urgently need to accelerate the pace at which we adopt this innovation into patient care to improve their outcomes.

“In this role I’m determined to see the BHF build on its decades of progress and be a driving force in making this happen.”

Dr Michael Spence, UCL President & Provost, said: “Congratulations to Professor Bryan Williams on this significant national appointment. This recognises both Bryan’s exceptional leadership skills and his significant research in the field of hypertension, which has led him to be recognised as one of the world’s leading authorities in this area.  I am also delighted Bryan will continue to use his expertise in leading world-changing research at UCL and UCLH to drive progress in cardiovascular medicine and help bring innovations to patients.”

Dr Charmaine Griffiths, the BHF’s Chief Executive, said: “It is a pleasure to welcome Bryan to our brilliant British Heart Foundation team.

“Bryan joins us at a moment when BHF has never been more needed, with millions of people turning to us for support through such challenging times. Our incredible BHF researchers are on the cusp of turning science fiction into reality and we’ve appointed a research leader with the vision, scientific track record, and leadership skills to accelerate the research advances that people with heart and circulatory diseases so desperately need.”



  • Professor Bryan Williams