Professor Andrew Farmer, the Oxford Biomedical Research Centre’s Co-theme Lead for Technology and Digital Health and an experienced general practitioner, begins a new role with the NIHR on 1 June 2020 as Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme Director. He will take over from Professor Hywel Williams, who will be stepping down in September after heading the programme since 2015.
Professor Farmer is currently Professor of General Practice at Oxford University’s Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences (NDPCHS) and an NIHR Senior Investigator.
The HTA Programme funds research about the clinical and cost-effectiveness and broader impact of healthcare treatments and tests for those who plan, provide or receive care from NHS and social care services.
Dr Louise Wood, Director of Science, Research and Evidence at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), said: “I’m delighted Andrew has been chosen to lead the HTA Programme and I’m looking forward to him beginning work. I’m sure under his leadership the Programme will continue its crucial work in generating important evidence on the clinical and cost-effectiveness of health and care interventions.”
Professor Farmer’s research interests focus on improving care for people with chronic and long-term health conditions, including self-management of diabetes in general practice. He holds a series of high profile NIHR roles, including Chair of the HTA’s General Funding Committee.
He was the founding director of the UKCRN registered Primary Care Clinical Trials Unit at Oxford and, among other roles, was Co-Director of the NIHR Thames Valley Clinical Research Network and a Panel Chair for NIHR Programme Grants for Applied Research. He is also a general practitioner at St Bartholomew’s Medical Centre in Oxford.
Professor Farmer said: “I’m excited to take up this new role. Providing high quality research about the effectiveness of treatments has never been more relevant as we face the challenges ahead from the COVID-19 pandemic. Hywel’s leadership over the last five years has given us a fantastic platform to build on. I look forward to working with colleagues to ensure a strong future research pipeline and to support the research community, many of whom are currently in the front-line.”
Professor Richard Hobbs, Head of Department at NDPCHS, said: “Andrew’s track record, depth of experience and enthusiasm for delivering HTA research make him an ideal leader to build on the work of Hywel and the rest of the NIHR HTA team.
“Andrew has combined internationally leading research, with a wide range of leadership roles including setting up our primary care clinical trials unit, leading NIHR research networks, and chairing national committees. We are proud to have a primary care clinician taking on this important role and wish him well as he takes it up.”
Professor Hywel Williams also congratulated Professor Farmer and said: “Andrew has been a long-standing and effective contributor to the HTA Programme. As an academic GP, Andrew brings a wealth of knowledge of community healthcare to the programme along with a strong sense of fairness and inclusivity to this critical role. The HTA Programme and cross-NIHR work is safe in Andrew’s hands, and he has my full support going forward.”
More information on the HTA Programme is on the NIHR website.