WHO names Dr. Jeremy Farrar as Chief Scientist, and Ex-Tonga Health Minister as Chief Nursing Officer

SWITZERLAND — The World Health Organization has appointed Wellcome Trust director Dr. Jeremy Farrar to the position of Chief Scientist effective second quarter of 2023.

As WHO’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Farrar will oversee the Science Division, bringing together the best brains in science and innovation from around the world to develop and deliver high-quality health services to the people who need them most, no matter who they are and where they live.

Farrar, a clinician scientist, succeeds Dr. Soumya Swaminathan as head of the WHO’s science division. He spent 17 years as the director of the clinical research unit at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Vietnam where his research interests were in global health with a focus on emerging infectious diseases before joining Wellcome in 2013.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Farrar led Wellcome’s advocacy for increased funding for testing, treatments, and vaccines.

Also, under Dr. Farrar, Wellcome has taken an increasingly global outlook, focusing on funding discovery research projects to transform understanding of life, health and well-being, and supporting science-based solutions to address three urgent challenges: infectious disease, mental health, and the effects of climate change on health.

From the start of the pandemic until his resignation in October 2021, he was a member of the UK Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), as well as the Principals Group of the WHO’s ACT-Accelerator.

Dr. Farrar is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences UK, European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), the National Academies USA, and a Fellow of The Royal Society.

New Chief Nurse

Meanwhile, Dr. Amelia Latu Afuhaamango Tuipulotu will take over as WHO’s Chief Nursing Officer in 2023.

She was Tonga’s Chief Nursing Officer before becoming the Kingdom of Tonga’s first female Minister for Health in 2019.

She was the first Tongan to receive a Ph.D. in Nursing and was previously the director of nursing at Vaiola Hospital.

She was named Honorary Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Sydney in 2019. Tuipulotu served on the WHO Executive Board from May 2020 to December 2022.

Tuipulotu, as WHO’s Chief Nursing Officer, will “champion, nurture, and support nurses and midwives to ensure that their skills and experience are well-utilized to strengthen health systems and to bolster their critical role in bringing patients, communities, and national health systems closer together,” the WHO says.

I am delighted that Jeremy and Amelia will join WHO at a critical time in global public health when investment in both the health workforce and science is imperative to strengthening health systems and outbreak preparedness and prevention,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Paul Schreier, Wellcome’s Chief Operating Officer, has been appointed interim CEO from 25 February 2023.

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