Sir Patrick Vallance, who played a crucial role guiding the UK through the coronavirus pandemic, is to stand down as the government’s chief scientific adviser.
Prime minister Boris Johnson said it was “impossible to fully convey” the scientist’s impact as it was announced he will leave the role at the end of his five-year term next April.
Sir Patrick acknowledged his tenure was both “challenging and immensely rewarding” as a search for his successor was about to begin.
Sir Patrick, 62 and originally from Essex, was an academic and a consultant physician before joining GlaxoSmithKline, where he became president of research and development.
Mr Johnson said: “It is impossible to fully convey the impact that Sir Patrick has had as chief scientific adviser.
“Sir Patrick may not have bargained for becoming a household name when he signed up for the job, but I am immensely grateful for his advice and expertise throughout the pandemic and beyond.
“He will be missed by all when he leaves next year, and I wish him the very best in all future endeavours.”
Sir Patrick was seen as a calm voice who delivered the hard scientific evidence to the politicians making the decisions during the pandemic.
He is expected to feature prominently during the official inquiry into the response to coronavirus.
Sir Patrick said he remains “fully committed” to the role, which also entails advising ministers on science and technology policy, until his replacement takes over.
“Science and engineering remain vital for the future prosperity of the UK, and high-quality evidence and science advice should be at the heart of all government decision-making,” he said.
“Appointing the GCSA for fixed periods is an important way to ensure independence and my five-year term has been both challenging and immensely rewarding.”