Boston-born Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, will step down from his government post at the end of March to take on a new job at the University of Nottingham.
Van-Tam, nicknamed by many as JVT, became well known for his colourful metaphors and straight forward nature when delivering the latest news about the coronavirus pandemic.
He joined the Department of Health and Social Care on secondment from the University of Nottingham in 2017. He will return to be the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.
During his time as Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Van-Tam has played important roles in a number of different incidents, including domestic outbreaks of MERS and Monkeypox, 2017/18 influenza season, and most notably the response to the Novichok attacks, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.
JVT said: “My time as DCMO have been the most challenging of my professional career, especially the COVID response. We all wish COVID had never happened. Notwithstanding, it has been the greatest privilege of my professional career to have served the people of the UK during this time.
“I want to pay tribute to Professor Chris Whitty, the CMO team, my fellow scientists, public health professionals and clinicians whose support, wisdom and energy has been inspiring.
“There are countless numbers who work behind the scenes – all of whom have an unrelenting commitment to help and support the British public. It has been an honour to work with them all.
“I will continue to work until the end of March and look forward to the next challenge.”
Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, said: “It has been an honour to work side-by-side with Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam and I am hugely grateful for his advice and guidance since I became Health and Social Care Secretary.
“JVT’s one-of-a-kind approach to communicating science over the past two years has no doubt played a vital role in protecting and reassuring the nation, and made him a national treasure.
“I pay tribute to his relentless work ethic, sense of public duty and leading role in our incredible vaccination programme – on behalf of DHSC I wish him the best of luck on his return to the University of Nottingham.”
It has been an honour to work with JVT and I am hugely grateful for his advice & the vital role he has played in our vaccination programme.
— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) January 13, 2022
Professor Chris Whitty said: “Professor Van-Tam has been an outstanding DCMO and public servant. I am profoundly thankful for his steadfast support, advice, leadership and commitment. His communication of public health advice and science has been remarkable.”
Professor Shearer West, University of Nottingham Vice-Chancellor, said: “All of us at the University are incredibly proud of Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam’s work as Deputy Chief Medical Officer, in which he has played a major role in steering the nation through the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I am delighted that Jonathan is returning to Nottingham to join our executive team and lead our renowned Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences as its next Pro-Vice-Chancellor.
“His academic and leadership expertise is second to none, and the integrity that he has demonstrated in his government role is fully aligned to our values. I know that he will take our University’s reputation for excellence in medicine and health sciences to new heights.”
JVT attended Boston Grammar School where his father was a teacher after growing up in the Lincolnshire town.
He graduated from the University of Nottingham in 1987 and has since had an illustrious career in public health and medicine, including returning to the university as a Clinical Senior Lecturer in 1997 and as a Clinical Professor of Health Protection in 2007.
His roles have also included Consultant Epidemiologist and Head of the Pandemic Influenza Office at the UK Health Protection Agency in 2004 and chairman of the UK New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threat Advisory Group (NERVTAG) from 2014 to 2017.
He has also at several points advised the World Health Organisation and the UK Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies.
He was given an MBE in 1998’s New Year’s Honours for his work designing medical kits for large groups of teenagers on camping expeditions.
Van-Tam, who is an avid Boston United fan, was named as The Lincolnite Person of the Year for 2020.