Chief Scientific Advisers: FAQ

What is a Chief Scientific Adviser? Who has one?

Most government departments have a Chief Scientific Adviser, and they work together, under the leadership of the Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, to address and advise on issues which cut across government.

The Ministry of Defence Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Dame Angela McLean, is also the Deputy Chief Scientific Adviser to government.

What do they do?

  • Provide advice to ministers on policy related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)
  • Help with decisions on high profile STEM-related issues, which bring new challenges to government
  • Work with Chief Scientific Advisers in other departments to share good practice and maximise knowledge and experience
  • Make sure evidence for science and engineering policies and decisions is reliable and accurate

In the Ministry of Defence:

  • Lead science and technology policies which keep the Armed Forces at the cutting edge of new technology
  • Own the department’s science and technology research portfolio

Who is the Ministry of Defence’s Chief Scientific Adviser?

  • Professor Dame Angela McLean, since 2 September 2019
  • She is a Professor of Mathematical Biology in the Department of Zoology at Oxford University, a Fellow of All Souls College and Director of The Institute for Emerging Infections of Humans
  • She is also the Head of Science Profession for the MOD.

What is the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE)?

  • A group which provides ministers and officials with evidence-based scientific advice in emergencies
  • An important source of information which government weighs up before adopting new policies

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Ministry of Defence

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