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Chris Whitty

Chris Whitty

British physician and epidemiologist
Chris Whitty
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro British physician and epidemiologist
A.K.A. Christopher Whitty, Christopher John Macrae Whitty
Is Researcher Epidemiologist Physician
From United Kingdom
Type Academia Biology Healthcare
Gender male
Birth 1966, Gloucester, United Kingdom
Age 54 years
Windlesham House School
Chalmers Medal 2011
Chris Whitty
The details


Christopher John MacRae Whitty CB FRCP FFPH FMedSci (born 21 April 1966) is a British physician and epidemiologist, who is Chief Medical Officer for England (CMO), Chief Medical Adviser to the UK Government, Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) at the Department of Health and Social Care and Head of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

In March 2020, Whitty took a leading role in response to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic in the United Kingdom, alongside Government Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.

Early life and education

Chris Whitty was born in Gloucester on 21 April 1966 to Kenneth and Susannah Whitty. He spent his early years in north Nigeria. His father was Director of the British Council in Athens, but was killed in 1984, when Whitty was in his teens.

Whitty was sent back to the UK for his schooling and was educated at Windlesham House School and Malvern College. Following this, he was educated at Pembroke College, University of Oxford (BA, 1988), Wolfson College, Oxford (BM BCh, 1991), the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (DTM&H, 1996; MSc, 1996), Northumbria University (LLM, 2005) and Heriot-Watt University (MBA, 2010).


Whitty is a practising National Health Service (NHS) consultant physician at University College London Hospitals (UCLH) and the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, and Gresham Professor of Physic at Gresham College. Until becoming CMO he was Professor of Public and International Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). In 2008, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded the LSHTM £31 million for malaria research in Africa. At the time, Whitty was the principal investigator for the ACT Consortium, which conducted the research programme.


Department for International Development (London office) (far right)

From 2009 to 2015, he was Chief Scientific Adviser and director of research for the Department for International Development (DFID). During this time, he co-authored an article in Nature titled "Infectious disease: Tough choices to reduce Ebola transmission", explaining the UK government's response to Ebola in Sierra Leone, including the proposal to build and support centres where people could self-isolate voluntarily if they suspected that they could have the disease.

From 2016 to 2019, he was Chief Scientific Adviser and head of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), Department of Health and Social Care. From 2017 to 2018, he was appointed interim Government Chief Scientific Adviser and head of the science and engineering profession in government, when Novichok, the military nerve agent, was responsible for the 2018 Salisbury poisonings.

2020 coronavirus outbreak in the United Kingdom

Whitty and his two deputies, Jenny Harries and Jonathan Van-Tam, took high-profile roles during the 2020 coronavirus outbreak in the United Kingdom. This included appearing with prime minister Boris Johnson and alone in press briefings, and giving evidence to parliamentary bodies. Whitty gave updates on developments of the virus in the UK, appearing in news conferences in Downing Street with Johnson and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance. From 19 March, Whitty appeared in public information adverts on national television explaining the government's social-distancing strategy to reduce the spread of the virus during the pandemic. On 27 March, he was reported to be self-isolating owing to symptoms consistent with COVID-19 after Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock had tested positive for the virus. On 6 April, he had reportedly returned to work having recovered from the symptoms of the virus.

During the outbreak, BBC health editor Hugh Pym called him "the official who will probably have the greatest impact on our everyday lives of any individual policymaker in modern times". The Guardian's sketch writer, John Crace, described him as "the Geek-in-Chief, whom everyone now regards as the country's de facto prime minister". At the same time, he was compared with James Niven, the Scottish physician known for reducing the death rate of influenza during the 1918 flu pandemic in Manchester.

Awards and honours

Whitty was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in the 2015 New Year Honours. He is a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.

Public lectures outlining his views on tackling current challenges in medicine and public health include Gresham lectures and the 2017 Harveian Oration at the Royal College of Physicians.

Personal life

Whitty is the eldest of four brothers. He is unmarried, and does not have children. He is known to play tennis and believed to be keen on music. Otherwise he has been quoted by Whitehall sources as a "private person who never discusses his personal life."

Selected publications

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 07 Apr 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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