Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

HE&me

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

HE&me

Article excerpt

Chris Day was brought up in North Tyneside and studied medicine at the University of Cambridge before returning to the North East to practise at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle. An expert in liver disease, he moved into higher education in 1987 at Newcastle University before being made head of the School of Clinical Medical Sciences. In 2007, he took over as pro vice-chancellor for the high-performing Faculty of Medical Sciences. In July, he was announced as Newcastle's next vice-chancellor

Where were you born?

Darlington, County Durham.

How has this shaped you?

I was brought up in Tynemouth. I think that the people of the North East are characterised by a strong work ethic, a profound sense of fairness and a deep loyalty to family, friends, colleagues and the region. I would like to think that some of these characteristics have rubbed off on me.

What is the best way of ensuring that more children from a similar background make it as far as you have?

Schools and teachers that encourage children to be aspirational coupled with universities committed to developing strategies and policies that constantly seek to find new ways to recruit the most able students whatever their background.

Should Newcastle University's focus be more local or global?

Absolutely both. Excellence in research and teaching should be locally relevant but be of sufficient quality to have global impact. We have numerous examples where this is already the case from our work on digital cultures and cities, smart energy grids and the prevention of rare, inherited mitochondrial diseases.

Much of your research has focused on liver disease. How prescriptive should governments be in warning people about the risks of alcohol?

The most important thing that we can do is to give people clear information on the risks of drinking at different levels to enable them to make informed choices. In addition, I believe that the evidence supporting minimum unit pricing as a way of reducing drinking in the youngest and heaviest consumers provides a persuasive argument for legislative action, however unpopular this may be.

Is there ever justification for withholding, or charging more for, NHS treatment for people whose conditions are caused by life choices?

Not in absolute terms, but in some instances, in the context of a cash-strapped NHS, I believe it is appropriate that patients are required to demonstrate that they have addressed the harmful "life choice" before being offered an expensive treatment, particularly where failing to do so would significantly reduce the chance of the treatment producing long-term benefit. …

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