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Biography: Professor Sir Alex Markham

Alex Markham has been appointed the Chair of NHS Connecting for Health's Research Capability Programme.

Professor Sir Alex Markham

Alex completed a Chemistry PhD at the University of Birmingham in 1974 and has undertaken postdoctoral work in Japan, London, Cambridge and Boston.

He entered the commercial sector and had some 15 years' experience in the pharmaceutical and diagnostics industries, in both the UK and the USA, with GD Searle and then ICI Pharmaceuticals (Astra Zeneca).

His commercial experience also includes the worldwide development of DNA Fingerprinting for forensic and medico-legal applications. This was recognised by the Queen's Award for Technological Achievement in 1990.

Professor Markham has made contributions to medical science in various fields. On the basis of his expertise in nucleic acid chemistry, he developed research programmes in molecular biology from the late '70s and was one of the pioneers of molecular genetics research in the UK in the 1980s.

For the last 15 years in Leeds, his group has studied autosomal recessive Mendelian disorders in the highly consanguineous, immigrant communities of West Yorkshire, leading to an understanding of the genes mutated in a variety of neurodevelopmental and malignant diseases.

He qualified clinically in 1985, training at London and Oxford, and is accredited in pathology and internal medicine. He is the Professor of Medicine at the University of Leeds and directed the Molecular Medicine Unit at St James's University Hospital.

He has undertaken a range of administrative duties at national level, including the chairmanship/membership of numerous committees for the Medical Research Council, the Department of Health, and the Wellcome Trust.

A Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and a newly-elected Board Director of the International Union against Cancer (UICC), he was, until recently, Chairman of the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) in the UK and remains on its Board.

He has been a member of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration Board and the National Institute of Health Research Advisory Board. He was a member of the Government's Cancer Reform Strategy Advisory Board, and chaired its Clinical Outcomes Group.

Professor Markham was Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK for four years from May 2003-2007, when he returned to academic work at Leeds University.

He has been appointed to the MRC Strategy and Planning Group and the Government Office for Science panel, conducting a Science Review of the Department of Health.

He serves on the Department of Health Ministerial Industry Strategy Group Advisory Panel and is Chairman of the Office for the Strategic Coordination of Health Research (OSCHR) Translational Medicine Board. In 2007 he was appointed Chairman of the NHS Connecting for Health Research Capability Programme.

Professor Sir Alex Markham received a knighthood in the 2008 New Years Honours list for services to medicine.