Hands holding the earth

NIHR appoints first ever Head of Sustainability

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) has appointed its first ever Head of Sustainability, as the drive towards net-zero and decarbonisation continues to gather pace.

The new appointment comes in the form of Dr Sophia Lentzos, who NIHR say has had a lifelong passion for sustainability after starting her professional career in environmental conservation. She then went onto train as a medical doctor at the University of Nottingham before starting Anaesthesia training in Wessex.

It was here where she worked as part of the Green Guardian network at the trust as well as founding the Wessex Green Anaesthesia Network.

Dr Sophia Lentzos said: "It is a real privilege to join the NIHR, and I welcome the opportunity to work with colleagues across the health research sector to establish practices that we hope in time will define sustainable research.

"I am passionate about creating an equitable and sustainable health and care system, and the diversity within NIHR, and the breadth of research it provides across the health and social care landscape, means there is a really exciting opportunity to make a huge difference here."

Upon joining, Lentzos will be tasked with building a team that will investigate how the NIHR can cut its carbon emissions, as well as helping influence the NIHR’s wider research infrastructure to pull in the same direction.

This will be supported by a boost in NIHR investment into decarbonisation and sustainability-themed research programmes.

NIHR Chief Executive, Professor Lucy Chappell, added: "We are already feeling the effects of climate change, and science will be key to understanding how we mitigate its impact and adapt to the changes that have already happened.

“This will require us to change the way we interact with the environment. NIHR is funding research in the UK and globally to understand how to best deliver low carbon, sustainable and resilient health and care systems.

"As researchers, we must lead by example, and ensure that our own practices are sustainable in and of themselves. So I’m very pleased to welcome Sophia to the NIHR. Her experience and passion are exactly what we need as we all continue to work in ever more sustainable ways."

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NHE May/June 2024

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