Starting in her post on April 1, Professor McLean will become the first woman to take on the role. She will replace Sir Patrick Vallance, who has held the position since 2018, and who had a very public tenure alongside the UK’s Chief Medical Adviser, Professor Chris Whitty, throughout the Covid pandemic.
Professor McLean has been the Chief Scientific Adviser for the Ministry of Defence since September 2019, with responsibility for directing research through the MOD’s core S&T research portfolio. As GCSA, she will also act as head of the Government Science and Engineering Profession and be part of the executive team of the newly formed Department for Science, Innovation and Technology.
“I am delighted to take on this role at such an important time in our country for Science Innovation and Technology,” she said. “All of us in government are going to greatly miss Sir Patrick, and I look forward to working with colleagues to build on the work he has led during his time as GCSA.
“My long-term mentor, the late Lord Robert May, held the post of GCSA between 1995 and 2000 and that personal connection adds a particular depth to my sense of honour in being asked to take on this role.”
Dame Angela is a Professor of Mathematical Biology in the Department of Zoology at Oxford University and a Fellow of All Souls College. Her research interests include the use of mathematical models to aid our understanding of the evolution and spread of infectious agents. During the Covid pandemic she regularly attended SAGE and co-chaired SPI-M-O, the sub-group of SAGE that prepared advice for government using epidemiology, data analysis and mathematical modelling.
“I warmly welcome the appointment of Dame Angela McLean as the new Government Chief Scientific Adviser,” said Prof Sir Jim McDonald FREng FRSE, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering.
“She brings with her a unique wealth of experience in both the theory of mathematical biology and crucially how to apply it to real life challenges and assessment of resilience and risk, and an impressive track record of leadership on science advice in government. The Academy looks forward to working with her to ensure that engineering and technology insights are at the heart of government policy making.”
Prof Sarah Main, executive director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE), added: “Warmest congratulations to Prof Dame Angela McLean on her appointment as Government Chief Scientific Advisor. It is exciting to have someone with her depth of experience taking the helm in such a critical role for the sector and country. I am looking forward to working with her to put science and engineering at the heart of the UK’s future to improve people’s lives and livelihoods.”