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David Wells

A portrait photo of David Wells

Areas of Interest

Alumni, Health Care

Honorary Award

Honorary Doctor of Science


"Vice Chancellor, it is my pleasure to read the citation for David Wells for the award of Honorary Doctor of Science.  

As Chief Executive of the Institute of Biomedical Science and former Head of Pathology NHS England, David has been at the forefront of the UK’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

ARU provided an early source of inspiration to David, as he completed both his BSc Biomedical Science in 1998 and MSc Biomedical Science in 2005 with us. We are proud of his success as an exceptional biomedical scientist, particularly this year, as he has used his academic qualifications and professional expertise to deliver key elements of the COVID-19 national testing programme.  

In September 2018, David was recognised by The Pathologist magazine as one of the 100 best, brightest and most powerful advocates for pathology in the global community. His training at Addenbrooke’s Hospital had been followed by roles at Great Ormond Street Hospital, including latterly a tenure as Lead Healthcare Scientist. David has advised on NICE panels and various national forums including the Parliamentary and Science committee.  

In October 2020, the Royal College of Pathologists awarded David an Honorary Fellowship in recognition of his collaborative and patient-centred contributions to pathology in England.   

And once more, The Pathologist magazine has named David among some of the UK’s most inspirational pathologists and laboratory medicine professionals on their Power List 2021 for his extraordinary work on the COVID-19 testing programme.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought personal and professional challenges for us all and few more so than for David, who rapidly became the UK government’s subject matter expert for pathology. For several months, he has been providing expert scientific input to government ministers, as well as NHS England executives and chief executives. His reach extends to the sharp end of the testing programme, liaising with laboratory managers and staff responsible for delivering COVID-19 testing across the whole of England.  

The statistics remain impressive. David was responsible for expanding the NHS testing capacity from 2,000 tests per day in early March to 25,000 tests every day by the end of April. He then facilitated the delivery of the Ministerial commitment of 100,000 PCR tests per day.  

Mobilising colleagues to deliver a shared goal to benefit individual patients and the community as a whole drove David through these difficult weeks. His extensive scientific knowledge combined with operational experience and excellent communication skills to achieve the target within a short timescale.  

He was instrumental in introducing molecular technologies to NHS laboratories who had never delivered this type of testing to the scale required. His success prepared him well for the next stage of the testing strategy - antibody testing. Once again, within extraordinarily tight deadlines, he was able to mobilise the team nationwide to roll out a system that delivered a service capable of delivering 120,000 tests per day within two weeks of the assays being available.  

David’s courage and tenacity in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic have been exemplary and he is a fine example of a very successful ARU alumnus. His outstanding contribution to the NHS and rising star status represent aspiration and inspiration to us all, particularly in the fields of medicine and biomedical sciences.  

We are delighted to welcome David back to our ARU community.

Vice Chancellor, it is my pleasure to present David Wells for the award of Doctor of Science, honoris causa."