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We need commitment and we need leadership

John James, Sickle Cell Society

"Here we have a condition that has been known medically for hundreds of years, people have received Nobel Prizes for their analysis and understanding of its genetic makeup. Given what is known about sickle cell, genomic research into treatments and cures should be amongst the low hanging fruit within the scientific development."

John James, CEO of the Sickle Cell Society and the first Black African-Caribbean Chief Executive in the NHS, believes that it is fundamental to acknowledge that inequalities exist before transformational change can happen across our health services as well as in research. Only then will we start closing the gaps in the differences in healthcare outcomes and treatments for all of the people our NHS serves.

On this podcast John and Chris Wigley, Chief Executive of Genomics England, tackle the challenges of reaching ethnic minority communities, the importance of role models, and the difficulties in translating exciting scientific advancements to healthcare professionals who are already under incredible pressure.


John James has 33 years of experience with in the NHS including 4 CEO roles. He was Chair of the West London Cancer network (2002-2005) and Chair of the North West London Diabetes Network (2003-2004). As a senior civil servant for the Department of Health he served as Program Consultant on leadership for the NHS Next Stage Review and then as Deputy Director for the NHS Medical Director/Director General. He has been Chief Executive of the Sickle Cell Society for the last 8 years. In June 2018 John was awarded an OBE as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honour.

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