Usher Institute

Farewell to Professor Sir Aziz Sheikh OBE

The Usher Building was buzzing at our recent Forum event, where we wished a fond farewell to our former Director, Professor Sir Aziz Sheikh OBE ahead of his move to The University of Oxford.

It was an absolute pleasure to see staff, students, and guests gathering for the first time in the Usher Building on Thursday 27 June for our Usher Forum. The event was bittersweet as it was our chance to say goodbye to our Director, Professor Sir Aziz Sheikh OBE, who has been with The University of Edinburgh for over 20 years.

During his time here, Sir Aziz has made significant contributions to the field of medicine and healthcare. He received an OBE in 2014 for his services, became Usher Director in 2017, and was knighted in 2022 for his contributions to COVID-19 research. Although he will continue some of his research at the Usher Institute, his primary post will be at the University of Oxford starting August 2024.

The event had a great turnout, with every seat filled and many more joining online. Interim Director, Professor Julie Jacko, shared fascinating insights into her own personal story, values, and aspirations. CMVM Research Impact Manager, Dr Lena Lorenz, chaired an excellent panel discussion session on Impact. To conclude the event, Professors Sarah Cunningham-Burley and David Argyle led a tribute to Sir Aziz Sheikh, featuring a short video with quotes, comments, and well-wishes from collaborators and colleagues, including former PhD students, personal assistants, research managers, and public advisory group members.

Sir Aziz was presented with a print depicting the various buildings at The University of Edinburgh where he has worked, illustrating the department's progression from a small office above the General Practice Mackenzie Medical Centre (run by the Usher Institute), to the beautiful new Usher Building. The mount has been signed by colleagues past and present.

We were also delighted to welcome several of our Emeriti Professors, many of whom had not visited since wearing hard hats during the building’s construction phase.

Looking ahead, we are excited to welcome many more visitors during our official opening in Spring 2025. However, our thoughts are currently with Sir Aziz as he transitions from his leadership role. He leaves behind a vibrant and growing Usher Community that has greatly benefitted from his insight, vision, and dedication. Many of those who have worked most closely with him confessed to shedding a heartfelt tear at what was an emotional day.

We wish Sir Aziz all the best in his new endeavours and look forward to seeing him again soon.

Further information

Read our previous news item ‘Professor Sir Aziz Sheikh announces move to Oxford’