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Wednesday, 14 October 2020, 6:00PM - 7:00PM
Online Lecture

The Role of the State in Public Health, and its Limits

Professor Chris Whitty

The relative role of the State and the individual is a recurring theme of political theory. It is also a practical question in public health – what are the respective responsibilities of government, individuals and healthcare professionals to protect health? 

This lecture will explore the areas government is widely perceived to be responsible for, ones where government should have no role, and the areas where medical professionals provide a third dimension to a triangle of responsibility.


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Christopher Whitty CB FRCP FMedSci is Gresham Professor of Physic (the term for medicine when the post was created in 1597) at Gresham College. He is also Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for England, the UK Government's Chief Medical Adviser, Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department of Health and Social Care and head of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). 

He still practices as an NHS Consultant Physician at University College London Hospitals (UCLH) and the Hospital for Tropical Diseases. He is involved in many day-to-day public health decisions for the UK.

He is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. He was interim Government Chief Scientific Adviser and Head of the Science and Engineering Profession and was previously Chief Scientific Adviser at the UK Department for International Development (DFID). Before becoming CMO he was Professor of Public and International Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and was previously Visiting Gresham Professor of Public Health.

Professor Whitty has worked as a clinician and in public health and clinical research in the UK, Africa and Asia. He undertook his postgraduate training in epidemiology, economics and medical law.

The major cancers and their prevention and treatment are the theme for his second series of lectures as Gresham Professor of Physic.

Professor Whitty's lectures series are as follows:

2019/20 Cancer: A Fight we are Steadily Winning

2018/19 Infections Diseases: The Oldest Enemy

2017/18 Chronic Diseases

2016/17 Bold Ideas in Medicine

2014/15, 2015/16 Medicine at the Extremes of Life

2013, 2014 and 2016 Imported Infections and Epidemics

All lectures by the Gresham Professors of Physic can be accessed here.

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