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Press release

  • 1 May 2007

Sussex appoints new Vice-Chancellor

Professor Michael Farthing

Professor Michael Farthing

Professor Michael Farthing has been appointed as the next Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sussex.

Professor Farthing, 59, has a distinguished background in medicine, both as a physician and as an academic, in a career spanning more than 30 years.

He is currently Principal of St George's, University of London, which specialises in medicine and health sciences. He is also Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Medicine for the University of London.

Professor Farthing said: "It will be a great privilege to join the team at Sussex. The University should be proud of its achievements over the last 40 or more years, but not satisfied. I would like to see the development of innovative approaches to education, enhancement of research quality, expansion of the enterprise culture, and steady sustainable growth through strong partnerships."

The University's Chancellor Lord Attenborough said: "I am delighted that exhaustive deliberations throughout the University have resulted in our securing a new Vice-Chancellor with such varied interests and highly distinguished qualifications. I send him every good wish for the future."

The University's Chair-designate of Council Simon Fanshawe, who led the selection process for the University, said: "Professor Farthing has a proven track record in leading and developing academic institutions, in partnership with others. He has a strong vision, and is ambitious for the University. I am confident that Sussex will thrive under his leadership."

Mr Fanshawe added: "The appointment of Professor Farthing has the unanimous support of our Senate and Council, reflecting the strong involvement of the whole staff and student community throughout the appointment process."

Professor Farthing's previous appointments in Higher Education over the past decade have included Executive Dean of Medicine, University of Glasgow (2000 - 2003), and Dean of Clinical Medicine at Queen Mary, University of London (1995 - 1997).

He currently serves as Vice-Chairman of the UK panel for Research Integrity in Health and Biomedical Science and as President of the British Society of Gastroenterology. He has also served on the GMC Education Committee and Undergraduate Board since 2001 and chairs the Education Committee's Research Board. He has been Honorary Consultant in Gastroenterology to the Army since 1991.

As an enthusiastic photographer and an aspiring playwright, with a strong personal interest in history, Professor Farthing is a keen supporter of the arts. He is married with two sons.

Professor Farthing takes up the post at Sussex following the retirement of Professor Alasdair Smith, who is standing down in the summer after nine years as Vice-Chancellor of the University.

Notes for editors

  • Professor Farthing will be the University's seventh Vice-Chancellor since Sussex received its Royal Charter in 1961. 



  • The University of Sussex has 11,000 students and is ranked in the world's top 150,  Europe's top 50 and the UK's top 20 (The Times Higher Education Supplement - World University Rankings, October 2006).  


For more information, please contact the Press Officers, Jacqui Bealing and Maggie Clune, tel: 01273 678888, email:



Michael Farthing graduated from University College, London and the University College Hospital Medical School in 1972.  Following a Registrar post in Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, he was appointed Wellcome Research Fellow, Honorary Lecturer in Gastroenterology at St Bartholomew's Hospital, London.


Between 1980 and 1983, he was a Wellcome Tropical Lecturer and held overseas posts as visiting lecturer and Assistant Professor in India, Boston and Costa Rica. In 1983 he returned to the UK as a Wellcome Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant Physician in the Department of Gastroenterology at St Bartholomew's Hospital and in 1990 was appointed to a personal professorship and Head of Department.


In 1995 he was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Barts and The London NHS Trust. In 2000 he moved to the Faculty of Medicine in Glasgow as the first externally appointed Executive Dean.  In 2003 he was appointed to St George's, University of London, as Principal.   He was also appointed Pro-Vice Chancellor for Medicine at the University of London in 2005.

Professor Farthing has served on a variety of other national and international bodies. He has been a non-executive director of several Boards including the East London and City Health Authority (1998), the Greater Glasgow NHS Board (2001) and in 2003 he was appointed to the South West London Strategic Health Authority. He has been Honorary Consultant in Gastroenterology to the Army since 1991. He has continued in clinical practice as an Honorary Consultant Gastroenterologist at St George's Healthcare NHS Trust.


Professor Farthing contributed to the management of a number of professional organisations including the Association of Physicians of Great Britain and Ireland, the European Association of Gastroenterology and Endoscopy (President 1998-2001) and the United European Gastroenterology Federation (member of Council, Chair of the Scientific Committee).  He is a member of the Editorial Boards of a number of national and international Gastroenterology journals.


Since 2007 he has been President of the British Society of Gastroenterology. He previously served as Honorary Secretary to the British Society of Gastroenterology (1990-94) and was awarded the British Society of Gastroenterology Research Medal in 1987. He was appointed editor of the Society's journal, Gut in 1996.


Major research interests include the pathogenesis of intestinal infection and inflammation, the mechanisms and control of intestinal secretion and the relationship between brain and gut function. He has contributed to other research areas including Helicobacter, GI cancer and IBS. The neuro-immune control of epithelial cell fluid and ion transport continues to be an active area of investigation, especially where it relates to enterotoxin-mediated secretory diarrhoea and the discovery of new therapeutic targets for its control.


Professor Farthing has served on the General Medical Council Education Committee and Undergraduate Board since 2001 and chairs the Education Committee's Research Board.   He has been Vice-Chair of the UK Panel for Research Integrity in Health and Biomedical Sciences since 2006.  Since 2001 he has also led the GMC team that oversees the development and implementation of the curriculum of the new Hull-York Medical School.

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