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Report of the General Board on the establishment of two Professorships of the Physics of Medicine

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

1. There has been significant growth in recent years in the development of research links and collaborations between disciplines, especially medicine, the physical sciences, engineering, and mathematics, which have already led to major advances, particularly in medicine. It is clear that future interdisciplinary initiatives will play a very significant role in the understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of disease. Within the University, the School of Clinical Medicine already has an established interdisciplinary programme of research in imaging sciences which involves the Department of Radiology, the Herchel Smith Laboratory for Medicinal Chemistry, and the Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre. Similarly, the Professorship of Biostatistics in the Department of Oncology provides strong links with mathematics and computing. Meanwhile, the Department of Engineering has agreed to make a professorial appointment in the field of life science engineering.

2. The Department of Physics has also recognized the potential of interdisciplinary research with the Clinical School particularly within the area defined generally as the Physics of Medicine. The view of these two institutions is that collaborative research, involving the application of physics to key problems in biology and medicine, offers very significant opportunities to open up new areas of work of both strategic and national importance. From the Physics perspective this work is seen as a core component in the major restructuring of their research programme, encompassing research in polymers and colloids, the physics of soft condensed matter, medical physics, and biological physics. In addition, significant interaction would take place with physicists working on the theory of condensed matter, astrophysics, inferential science, and semiconductor physics, as well as with a considerable number of cognate Departments and institutions across the University. With regard to teaching, the Department of Physics has already restructured third-year courses to include biological and soft condensed matter courses. It can be expected therefore that the development of the Physics of Medicine initiative will lead swiftly to the introduction of a new major option course in this field.

3. The Department of Physics and the School of Clinical Medicine have accorded a major emphasis in their five-year strategic plans to the proposed academic developments in the Physics of Medicine. The Department envisages that the combined strengths of the Cavendish Laboratory and the Clinical School will deliver the potential for outstanding physics and will also offer the opportunity to make a major contribution for the benefit of society at large. Accordingly, they have selected the Physics of Medicine initiative as the beneficiary of their proposal for the redevelopment of part of the Cavendish Laboratory buildings. Indeed, it is hoped that the strength of this vision for the development of interdisciplinary links in the Physics of Medicine will prove highly attractive to potential donors towards the cost of the new accommodation. Similarly, the Clinical School has determined that a major part of its strategy in the next quinquennium will be the development of even stronger links with the physical sciences, engineering, and mathematics. This is partly in recognition of the major advances already made in medicine through the applications of these disciplines but, perhaps more importantly, because of the major role that interdisciplinary developments are expected to play in the understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of disease. This is especially the case with the proposed collaboration in the Physics of Medicine initiative, which already has the broad support of the science-based Schools.

4. An opportunity has now arisen to make two professorial appointments of persons who possess the leadership qualities that will be required to develop this proposed initiative to its full potential. In their Report on the establishment of a Herchel Smith Professorship of Pure Mathematics, the General Board advised the University that £14.315m of Dr Smith's benefaction was to be divided equally to support the endowment of five Professorships. This includes one in the field of Physics which the Faculty Board of Physics and Chemistry have recommended should now be established with preference given on this first occasion to candidates whose work falls within the field of the Physics of Medicine. In addition, the Addenbrooke's NHS Trust have expressed an interest for some time in supporting a senior appointment to realize the potential for medical physics. Accordingly, the Faculty Board of Clinical Medicine have now proposed the establishment of a non-clinical Professorship of Medical Physics with the full costs of the stipend and associated costs of the Professor, together with core support costs being met from funds to be provided by the Addenbrooke's NHS Trust. The Professor would be expected to provide strategic leadership and advice in the field to the Addenbrooke's NHS Trust. Both Faculty Boards have expressed the hope that, under the recently approved revision of Statute D, XIV, the duties of the Professorships can concern both the Department of Physics and an appropriate Department within the School of Clinical Medicine. It is expected that the primary base of both Professors for teaching and research would be the Cavendish Laboratory, but with involvement in the programme of the Clinical School, as mentioned above.

5. Support for the work of the new Professors will be provided by two University Lectureships in the Department of Physics, which will be filled when the new Professors can participate in the selection process. The Herchel Smith endowment provides generous support for the work of the Professor. Further support will be available through the provision in Dr Herchel Smith's Will for a programme of three-year postdoctoral Fellowships which are to be held at Cambridge. The General Board are assured that, with this level of dedicated support, the Professorships can be expected to attract an excellent field of candidates. The Department of Physics has undertaken to provide suitable accommodation for the Professors. The Board have agreed that election to both Professorships should be made by ad hoc Boards of Electors and that, on this first occasion, candidature should be limited to persons whose work falls within the field of Physics of Medicine.

6. The General Board recommend:

I. That a Professorship of Medical Physics be established in the University for one tenure from 1 October 2005, placed in Schedule B of the Statutes, and assigned to the Department of Physics with duties concerning that Department and a Department within the School of Clinical Medicine to be determined by the General Board.

II. That a Herchel Smith Professorship of Physics be established in the University from 1 October 2005, placed in Schedule B of the Statutes, and assigned to the Department of Physics with duties, in the case of the first holder of the Professorship, concerning the Department of Physics and a Department within the School of Clinical Medicine to be determined by the General Board.

III. That regulations for the Herchel Smith Professorship of Physics, as set out in the Schedule to the Report, be approved.

16 June 2004ALISON RICHARD, Vice-ChancellorN. O. A. BULLOCKD. W. B. MACDONALD
 SARAH AIREYH. A. CHASEMELVEENA MCKENDRICK
 JOHN BELLJESSICA CHILDSROGER PARKER
 TOM BLUNDELLM. J. DAUNTONKEITH PETERS
 WILLIAM BROWNPETER LANDSHOFFS. J. YOUNG

SCHEDULE

Herchel Smith Professor of Physics.   2004.   Physics

1. The sum received from the Trustees of the late Dr Herchel Smith for the establishment of a Professorship in some field or fields in Physics shall form a fund called the Herchel Smith Physics Fund.

2. The Fund shall be administered by three Managers appointed by the Faculty Board of Physics and Chemistry, who shall include the Head of the Department of Physics, who shall be the Chairman, the Herchel Smith Professor of Physics, and the Chairman of the Council of the School of the Physical Sciences.

3. The first charge on the income of the Fund shall be the stipend, national insurance, pension contributions, and associated indirect costs of the Professor payable by the University.

4. After provision has been made in accordance with Regulation 3, the Fund shall be applied for the support of teaching or research in Physics in such manner as shall be approved by the General Board on the recommendation of the Managers.

5. Any unexpended income in a financial year may in any subsequent year be expended in accordance with Regulation 4.


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Cambridge University Reporter 30 June 2004
Copyright © 2011 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge.