Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE


Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE


Article excerpt

Ian Jacobs is a leading researcher in the field of women's health and cancer. He has held positions at numerous institutions including University College London and the University of Manchester, at which he was vice-president and dean of the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences. In February, he started as vice-chancellor of the University of New South Wales

Where and when were you born?

I was born in the East End of London in 1957 and grew up in Cockfosters in North London - at the end of the Piccadilly line.

How has this shaped you?

Growing up in London was exciting and full of opportunities, while also providing a strong identity and a sense of confidence of being from one of the world's great cities. It can also lead to a rather narrow perspective on the UK and the world. I don't think I really escaped that until I started a medical programme in Uganda in 2004 and then made the move to Manchester four years ago.

It's been just under two months since you took up the UNSW Australia role; how has it gone so far?

It has been wonderfully exciting. I pinch myself every morning to check it is not a dream to find myself living in Sydney, a magnificent city, leading such a large, vibrant, high-quality university and working with so many enthusiastic, ambitious and talented colleagues. It could not be better.

You've swapped the North West of England for New South Wales - quite a departure. How do they compare?

It was famously said that Manchester has "everything except a beach". Sydney has everything including beaches.

You have left quite a hole in the field of women's health and cancer research in the UK by moving to Australia. Are you hoping to add to your expertise while in Australia or will the leadership role take up all your time?

I will definitely be pursuing my research interests. The key mortality results from the ovarian cancer screening programme that I have led for the past 30 years will be reported in the next year, and I am fortunate to have a Cancer Research UK/Eve Appeal-funded research programme that continues to 2016. I am beginning to explore funding opportunities in Australia. My view is that, where possible, senior academic leaders should remain active in teaching and research. It was an approach I admired in Manchester and will adopt at UNSW.

In the short time you have been in the position, how has the sector compared with the UK's?

Australia's Group of Eight contains six universities in or around the top 100 worldwide that would comfortably sit in the upper half of the Russell Group, but only one would unequivocally be in the top 50. …

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