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Professor Gordon McVie: oration

Read Dr Andrew Chalmers' oration on Professor Gordon McVie for the honorary degree of Doctor of Medicine in December 2014.


Vice-Chancellor, it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you and the congregation Professor Gordon McVie. Gordon is a clinician, researcher and editor who has spent his career pushing the boundaries of research, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

His remarkable career started when he was advised at school that “his mediocrity would likely make him a good GP". Seeing medicine as an "easy exit-strategy from a school that I hated" he went to study medicine at Edinburgh University where he suddenly found his passion to investigate disease and motivate others to join him in his quest.

He graduated from Edinburgh University with a bachelor of medicine and a MD/PhD and went on to work successfully in numerous positions. Initially, as a senior lecturer at the Cancer Research Campaign Oncology Unit in Glasgow and later as a consultant in oncology at the Antoni van Leewenhoek hospital in Amsterdam. At that time he was also Clinical Research Director at the National Cancer Institute of the Netherlands. Gordon was one of the architects responsible for the formation of the Cancer Trials Networks in Scotland, Wales, and England, and was a founding member of the UK National Cancer Research Institute.

He is best known for his work leading the Cancer Research Campaign as CEO into a merger with the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) to create the largest cancer research charity in Europe. Post-merger, he assumed the position of Joint CEO in the newly created charity, Cancer Research UK, which he maintained until 2002.

Gordon currently lives in Bristol and works as a Senior Consultant at the European Institute of Oncology in Milan, where he has responsibility for planning strategy and science policy. He is also a founding editor of ecancermedicalscience, an open access cancer journal hosted by the European Institute of Oncology. Educational videos from this journal have been watched by over 10 million cancer professionals who originate from more than 200 countries.

During his career he has published over 300 original articles including 5 books. Key outcomes of his work include establishing more pin-point administration of chemotherapy, encouraging the use of chemotherapy for the treatment of lung cancer throughout the EU. He has also emphasised the importance of adjusting a patient’s management according to their ethnicity.

Professor McVie spoke at a recent Cancer Research @ Bath event and, Vice-Chancellor, I was struck by several features which I think go some way to explaining Professor McVie’s success. His enthusiasm for research, his incredible energy and his breadth of knowledge shone out. He also has a firm belief that clinicians and researchers should put cancer patients at the centre of everything they do.

Vice-Chancellor, I present to you Professor Gordon McVie, who is eminently worthy to receive the degree of Doctor of Medicine honoris causa.

Dr Andrew Chalmers

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