The president and provost of UCL — one of the world’s most prestigious universities – has this week joined the board of the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust (RFL).
Dr Michael Spence, who is tasked with leading UCL’s strategic direction and delivering its priorities and ambitions, has taken his place as a non-executive director on the RFL board.
The appointment further cements the long-standing partnership between UCL and the RFL which has, in recent months, seen the trust achieve top 10 status for recruitment into academic studies.
Since April 2023, the RFL has led on 183 research studies, involving nearly 7,000 recruits — many in collaboration with UCL.
Education and training are also fundamental to the RFL which offers more than 600 postgraduate training posts, across over 70 specialties, and hosts more than 300 nursing and midwifery students.
Mark Lam, chair of the Royal Free London, described the appointment as a huge moment for the trust.
"We’re thrilled to be welcoming Dr Spence to our board. This is an historic moment in the close relationship between UCL — London’s leading university — and the Royal Free London," Mark said.
"We are incredibly proud of our partnership with UCL, which is crucial to our ambition to become one of the leading research and academic institutions in the NHS.
"UCL opened university education to the many, not the few, in 1826; and since our foundation in 1828, the Royal Free London has had a pioneering history, leading the way in many areas of healthcare. Dr Spence’s appointment is another chapter in that illustrious history."
UCL is University of the Year 2024, according to The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide and is ranked 9th in the world. There have been 30 Nobel Prize laureates amongst UCL’s alumni and current and former staff to date.
Dr Michael Spence joined UCL as president and provost in January 2021, from the University of Sydney where he was vice-chancellor from 2008 to 2020.
Since arriving, he has led a year-long university-wide consultation to develop the UCL Strategic Plan 2022-27, which sets out its priorities and ambitions for the next five years.
Dr Spence said: "It is a real privilege to be taking my place on the board of the Royal Free London.
"The partnership between the trust and university is growing and is most visible when you walk around the Royal Free Hospital campus where UCL hosts a medical school and where you can’t fail to be impressed by the Pears Building, home of the UCL Institute of Immunity and Transplantation.
"We know that teaching hospital trusts with a strong research focus deliver the best outcomes for patients, and I am excited by the ambitious agenda being set by the RFL board, despite all the ongoing challenges the NHS is facing.
"I cannot wait to play my part in helping the trust to deliver on that — developing its staff and providing the very best care to patients."