Prof Sir Robert Lechler was elected as President of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2015.
Prof Lechler graduated in medicine from Manchester University in 1975, and did his postgraduate training, specialising in Renal Medicine and Immunology, in Manchester and London. He was firstly an MRC Research Fellow at the Hammersmith Hospital and then a Wellcome Trust Travelling Fellow at the NIH. He worked at the Imperial College London Faculty of Medicine (Hammersmith Campus) between 1986 and 2004. He became Professor of Molecular Immunology and Chief of Immunology Service in 1994.
In 2004 he moved to King’s College London (KCL) as Head of the School of Medicine, and Deputy Chairman of the Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust Board. He is also Professor of Transplantation Immunology and Honorary Consultant in Renal Medicine at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust. His current position at KCL is Executive Director, King’s Health Partners; Vice Principal, Health Schools, King’s College London, and Dean, Guy’s King’s College and St Thomas’ Hospitals School of Medicine and Dental Institute.
Prof Lechler was successively Chair of the British Heart Foundation (BHF) Programme Grants and Chairs Committee, a BHF Trustee and a Member of Council. He chaired the Expert Advisory Group on novel biological agents for the Committee for Safety of Medicines from 2007- 2013, is an External Assessor for the Medical Devices Agency and a member of the Mayor’s London Health Board. In 2014 he chaired the MRC Review of Molecular Pathology. He is a founder and Board member of Imanova and MedCity. He acts as an International Advisor to the NIH Immune Tolerance Network (promoting trials in clinical tolerance), a Director of the Scuola Superiore d’immunologia, Ruggero Ceppellini, in Naples (Italy) and an expert advisor to Epigeum, developing a course on “Research Impact”.
Prof Lechler co-supervises a research group of twelve people with Professor Giovanna Lombardi. The central theme of the programme is immune regulation in transplantation. Projects span experimental mouse models, the generation of pre-clinical data using humanized mice, and human studies. He has given numerous invited lectures at national and international meetings, has published more than 250 peer reviewed publications and more than 70 reviews and book chapters and was editor of “HLA in health and disease”
Prof Sir Robert Lechler – King’s College London
At KCL Sir Robert is responsible for the four Health Faculties which comprise 60% of KCL staff and 70% of KCL financial turnover, representing a budget of ~£380m per annum, of which £180m comes through research grants and contracts. KCL includes the largest medical school and dental institute in Europe, the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery, and the Institute of Psychiatry. Since his appointment in 2004 the quality and volume of research and education has been raised substantially through a programme of international recruitment and infrastructure improvement. In five years KCL rose from 27th to 11th in ranking in Clinical, Pre-clinical and Health subjects, and in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework the Medicine submission was ranked third nationally for quality; and, taking almost all biomedical research together, second for power. Educationally there are increased entry tariffs for all courses, and high levels of student satisfaction and there has been a significant increase in the numbers and range of postgraduate training and research. As a Vice Principal he is part of the KCL senior leadership team, engaged in the general running of the university, including strategy setting, budgetary planning, and participating in the £500m fundraising campaign “World questions, King’s answers”.
He is also responsible for the relationships with the partner NHS Foundation Trusts: Guy’s and St. Thomas’, King’s College Hospital and the South London and Maudsley. [KCL is one of five Academic Health Science Centres (AHSC) in the UK, and has a total turnover of £2bn and 25,000 staff.] He is Executive Director of the AHSC and leads the team that manages this highly complex organization. The AHSC has now been accredited for the next five years, and in his role as head of King’s Health Partners his current agenda is to develop a series of clinical academic institutes which will consolidate clinical and academic activity into major hubs of tertiary specialist services with related research and education.
In London he led the process whereby KCL made the capital investment to become a partner in the new Francis Crick Institute, together with Imperial College and University College London. The core of this Institute will be supplemented by three conduits for translation through the three AHSCs. He co-chairs the University – Crick co-ordinating committee that manages the interface between the three universities and the nascent institute. He has also played a leading role in MedCity which brings together the leaders of the three London AHSCs to create a single portal of entry for potential commercial partnerships with biomedical research and patient populations in London. Oxford and Cambridge are now also affiliated to MedCity, and the aim is to include them formally in governance in order to represent the Greater South East UK cluster.
Internationally he has been responsible for several KCL partnerships. These include research collaboration with University of California (San Francisco), a staff exchange programme with Johns Hopkins (Baltimore) and a partnership with Peking University Health Science Centre which aims for research collaborations in themed areas and develop of joint Masters programmes, and PhD student exchanges. The KCL Centre for Global Health aims to help post-conflict countries develop sustainable healthcare systems and brings together multiple disciplines across biomedicine, war studies, social science and geography. Most recently, the KCL Global Health office in Freetown Sierra Leone became the co-ordinating centre for the management of the Ebola virus outbreak.