Retirement of Dr Hilary Burton

By Hilary Burton

31 March 2019


Dr Hilary Burton has today formally retired from the PHG Foundation.

Hilary has been a pivotal member of the organisation since its inception, having been a founding staff member of the predecessor body, the NHS Public Health Genetics Unit in 1997, becoming Programme Director of the PHG Foundation and serving as Director (2010-2017). Hilary, a Consultant in Public Health Medicine with a distinguished track record in the development of policy to support the application of genomics for population health, has led multiple important initiatives during her time with the PHG Foundation.

These included the first ever appraisal of the clinical impact of genome sequencing technologies (Next steps in the sequence, 2011) as well as important reviews of the role of genetics and genomics in clinical services for ophthalmology and cardiovascular disease, and in screening programmes for metabolic diseases and cancer.

Hilary was a member of a number of national committees and advisory groups including the Department of Health’s Human Genomics Strategy Group, and has served for many years on the influential Joint Committee on Genomics in Medicine, a joint committee of the Royal Colleges of Physicians and Pathology and the Council for the British Society for Genetic Medicine.

She has also had a long standing interest in genomics education for mainstream health professionals, with pivotal publications ranging from the 2003 report for the then Department of Health, Addressing genetics, delivering health through to the 2011 Genetics and mainstream medicine and 2018 Genomics in mainstream clinical pathways reports and recommendations.

Since stepping down as PHG Foundation Director in 2017 Hilary has led the ambitious and wide-ranging My Healthy Future project, now nearing completion. Commenting on her retirement, current Director Dr Mark Kroese said:

“Hilary has through her leadership and expertise made a major and sustained contribution to the work of the PHG Foundation throughout its existence, and leaves an enduring professional legacy in her substantial body of work to support the effective embedding of genomics across mainstream clinical medicine and public health, to the benefit of many. Hilary has always been generous in her advice and support to colleagues. She will be greatly missed by all of us who have worked with her over the years”.

PHG Foundation founder and chairman of trustees Dr Ron Zimmern commented:

“Hilary has worked tirelessly to further the use of genomics within and beyond the NHS, from long before there was general appreciation of its potential to improve population as well as individual health. She deserves sincere congratulation and thanks for her very considerable achievements”.

We are sure that the many in the genomics, public health and policy communities with whom Hilary has worked will join the PHG Foundation trustees and staff in wishing her a very happy and richly deserved retirement.


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