Irish academic Hugh Brady takes top role at Imperial College London

Former UCD chief known for business mindset ‘to lead Imperial through period of change’

Hugh Brady expressed satisfaction at his appointment, saying he is ‘thrilled to lead one of the world’s great universities’. File photograph: The Irish Times

Hugh Brady expressed satisfaction at his appointment, saying he is ‘thrilled to lead one of the world’s great universities’. File photograph: The Irish Times

 

Irish professor Hugh Brady has been appointed the next president of one of the world’s most prestigious universities.

The 62-year-old Dubliner, a former president of UCD, will take up the role at Imperial College London next August, it has been announced.

Imperial is ranked 12th top university in the world and boasts 14 Nobel Prize winners, including Alexander Fleming who discovered penicillin.

Prof Brady, vice-chancellor and president of the University of Bristol, said he was “thrilled to lead one of the world’s great universities. I have long admired Imperial’s excellence in education, research and innovation.

“The way the whole Imperial community responded to the pandemic is awe inspiring: from vital scientific breakthroughs and rewiring digital learning to volunteering on the NHS frontline and helping the most vulnerable. I join at a time when Imperial’s strengths, profile and global impact have never been greater.”

John Allan, chairman of Imperial’s council, who oversaw a global search to appoint the college’s next president, described Prof Brady as one of the outstanding university leaders of his generation.

“His track record in Bristol, Dublin and as a pioneering researcher . . . make him the ideal candidate to lead Imperial through this period of change,” he added.

Prof Brady finished a 10-year term as president of UCD at the end of 2013, before taking up his role at Bristol in 2015.

Educated at UCD and Harvard, he became professor of medicine and healthcare strategy and was once dubbed “the Michael O’Leary of Irish education” for his business mindset and zeal.

Multiple honours

Prof Brady also holds an honorary doctorate of science from Queen’s University Belfast, an honorary fellowship from the Royal College of Anaesthetists in Ireland and was awarded the Robert Menzies Medal from the University of Melbourne.

He has served on the Higher Education Authority as chairman of the Irish Universities Association and is also a non-executive director of Kerry Group plc.

He is married to nephrologist Prof Yvonne O’Meara and the couple have three children.

Famous alumni at Imperial include science fiction author HG Wells, Queen guitarist Brian May, former prime minister of India Rajiv Gandhi, former UK chief medical officer Liam Donaldson and former chief executive of Singapore Airlines Chew Choon Seng.