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Report of the General Board on the establishment of a Bernard Wolfe Professorship of Health Neuroscience

The GENERAL BOARD beg leave to report to the University as follows:

1. Many general conditions associated with chronic morbidity or mortality are either caused, or exacerbated, by health-harming behaviours. This is clearly demonstrated, for instance, by coronary heart disease where lack of physical exercise, cigarette smoking and/or an excessive consumption of fatty foods are proven causative factors. As well as a significant number of cancers, other major medical conditions with an important behavioural contribution to pathogenesis include diabetes, obesity, and chronic obstructive airways disease. It is therefore not surprising to learn that research into the neurobiological basis of certain health-harming behaviours has demonstrated that further strengthening of the interface between neuroscience and medicine will be fundamental to developments for the prevention and treatment of life-style related diseases.

2. The Faculty Board of Clinical Medicine are committed to supporting work in the field of neuroscience and, in accordance with their strategic aims, they recently proposed the establishment within the School of a Department of Clinical Neurosciences; this was approved by Grace 4 of 10 December 2003. World-class neuroscience research facilities already exist on the Addenbrooke's Hospital Site and research activity of the highest calibre is undertaken in psychiatry and the clinical neurosciences. However, the most exciting opportunities for major advances in clinical neurosciences require a multidisciplinary approach which can build on the exceptional strength and breadth of research activity that already exists in clinical and non-clinical Departments within the Schools of Clinical Medicine and Biological Sciences. This would be further enhanced by the University's existing links with the NHS Trusts delivering medical services to residents in and around Cambridge and its collaboration with the MRC Biostatistics Unit.

3. The University already possesses a number of broad-based research strategies of the type required to take forward interdisciplinary research into the neurobiological basis of health-harming behaviours. Within the Clinical School, these range from the work in metabolic medicine on the neuroendocrine causes of obesity through to research in the Department of Psychiatry into the use of functional neuroimaging techniques to explore the neural basis of certain characteristics of patients with chromosomal disorders. Departments in the Clinical School are also engaged in significant collaborative work with a number of Departments in the School of the Biological Sciences some of which relates directly to a better understanding of health-harming behaviours. The quality of this research has been recognized as being of an international standard by the MRC and other funding bodies.

4. An opportunity has now arisen to take forward this type of work on the interaction of contemporary neuroscience with problems associated with general medicine. The Woco Foundation of Canada, a private foundation, has generously offered a donation of £3.7m to support work in the field of health neuroscience, in the name of Bernard Wolfe, a medical scientist, in recognition of his early scientific education in the UK. The School consider that the excellent medical and neuroscience strengths in both clinical and non-clinical Departments across the University, together with this possibility of introducing the requisite leadership through a senior appointment, provide an excellent framework for this initiative. The consequential development of a variety of significant collaborative arrangements would also benefit existing research and teaching programmes. The School are also of the view that this innovative proposal would attract junior scientists with their own research programmes and also generate a flow of research grants and external funding to the School.

5. The Faculty Board of Clinical Medicine have warmly welcomed the Woco Foundation's offer and the General Board have accordingly agreed to recommend the establishment of a Bernard Wolfe Professorship of Health Neuroscience, at Honorary Consultant level. However, because of the innovative intention of the Foundation's endowment, it may not prove possible to make an election to the Professorship at the outset. Accordingly, the regulations to govern the Fund for the endowment make provision for it to support another academic office, should that be deemed appropriate. The Board are assured that suitable accommodation is available for the person appointed and that the necessary support and facilities can be provided from resources available to the Clinical School. The person appointed will be granted Honorary Consultant status by the appropriate NHS Trust and accorded access to medical facilities by that Trust.

6. The General Board accordingly propose that a Bernard Wolfe Professorship of Health Neuroscience be established in the University from 1 July 2004. The Board have concurred in the Faculty Board's view that the assignment of the Professorship to a Department within the Clinical School should be determined once the research interests of the person elected can be taken into account. Accordingly, the election to the Professorship will be made by a specially constituted Board of Electors. The Board have further agreed that on this first occasion, candidature should be open without limitation or preference to all persons whose work falls within the general field of the title of the Professorship.

7. The General Board recommend :

I. That the generous offer of a donation from the Woco Foundation for the endowment of a Bernard Wolfe Professorship of Health Neuroscience be gratefully accepted.

II. That a Bernard Wolfe Professorship of Health Neuroscience be established in the University from 1 July 2004 and placed in Schedule B of the Statutes.

III. That regulations for the Bernard Wolfe Health Neuroscience Fund, as set out in the Schedule to this Report, be approved.

12 May 2004ALISON RICHARD, Vice-ChancellorN. O. A. BULLOCKMELVEENA MCKENDRICK
 SARAH AIREYJESSICA CHILDSROGER PARKER
 JOHN BELLM. J. DAUNTONKEITH PETERS
 TOM BLUNDELLPETER LANDSHOFFS. J. YOUNG
 WILLIAM BROWND. W. B. MACDONALD 

SCHEDULE

Bernard Wolfe Health Neuroscience Fund

1. The benefaction of £3.7m from the Woco Foundation for the support of work in health neuroscience shall form a fund called the Bernard Wolfe Health Neuroscience Fund to be held in perpetuity.

2. The first charge on the income of the Fund shall be the stipend, national insurance, and pension contributions, payable by the University in respect of the Bernard Wolfe Professor of Health Neuroscience, together with an annual provision in respect of recruitment expenses.

3. The second charge on the income of the Fund shall be such share of the University's central overheads attributed to the School of Clinical Medicine as is fair and appropriate to be borne by the Fund in support of the Professorship.

4. From time to time the General Board, on the recommendation of the Faculty Board of Clinical Medicine, may establish an office for a single tenure in place of the Professorship. During any period that such an office is held the first and second charges on the income of the Fund shall be as set out in Regulations 2 and 3 above, save that references to the Bernard Wolfe Professor of Health Neuroscience shall be treated as references to the office established under this regulation.

5. After provision has been made in accordance with Regulations 2 to 4, the income of the Fund shall be applied to meet the cost of such secretarial assistance, research assistance, office supplies, and equipment, (in that order), as the Professor or holder of the office mentioned in Regulation 4 may in his or her unfettered discretion require.

6. Any unexpended income of the Fund in a financial year shall be

(a) added to the unexpendable capital of the Fund; or

(b) applied in support of the work of the Professor or the holder of the office mentioned in Regulation 4; or

(c) accumulated for use as income in future years (in the order of priorities mentioned in these regulations);

as the General Board, on the recommendation of the Faculty Board of Clinical Medicine, shall determine, provided that no unexpended income shall be applied in accordance with paragraph (b) and no income accumulated in accordance with paragraph (c) shall be used unless the General Board are satisfied that, after applying reasonably prudent assumptions, the unexpendable capital of the Fund is sufficient to generate income to support the primary purpose of the Fund, as set out in Regulations 2 to 4, in perpetuity.

7. The Faculty Board of Clinical Medicine shall make an annual report to the Woco Foundation on the financial position of the Fund, the work supported by it, and the detailed expenditures by the Fund under Regulations 2 to 6 for that work.


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Cambridge University Reporter 26 May 2004
Copyright © 2011 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge.