Professor Bob Williamson, head of genetics at St Mary's Hospital, made a major contribution to the discovery of the cystic fibrosis gene and is a pioneer of gene therapy. He is to become professor of genetics at Melbourne University. He said: 'The health services in London have turned into a disaster scene. I haven't taken the decision to leave Britain lightly but there comes a point when you have to say things have gone too far.'
Professor Lucio Luzzatto, head of Haematology at Hammersmith Hospital, and a world-renowned expert on sickle cell disease and thalassemia, is leaving after 13 years to set up a genetics department at the Sloane Kettering Memorial Hospital, New York. Hammersmith was earmarked for closure but won a reprieve and is now merging with Charing Cross Hospital. Professor Luzzatto said that he decided to leave when it became clear that the 'best marrying of research and clinical medicine in the world' was under threat.
Professor Kay Davies has returned to her former post as head of molecular genetics at the Medical Research Council's Institute of Molecular Medicine in Oxford, where she leads research into Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Professor Davies was to have been director of the MRC's pounds 21m clinical sciences centre at the Hammersmith Hospital. She was unavailable yesterday but is reported to have resigned, citing continuing doubts about the Hammersmith's future.
Professor Keith Johnson, professor of molecular neurogenetics at Charing Cross Hospital, is at the forefront of research into muscular dystrophy. He is considering a move out of London to set up a new unit.
Professor Martin Bobrow, professor of paediatric research at Guy's and St Thomas's Hospital Trust, says he is 'likely' to move to Cambridge University after 12 years at Guy's. Professor Bobrow said yesterday that the vital contribution of the London centres of academic medicine had been 'submerged' in decisions about local provision. 'It is not just about the NHS reforms . . . it is the extent of disruption to teaching and research.'
Professor Michael Chapman, former professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Guy's and pioneer of foetal heart surgery left in March after 10 years at Guy's to take up a post at St Georges's Hospital, Sydney, a new teaching hospital. Colleagues says he was disillusioned with the situation at Guy's and doubts about its future.
Professor Richard Wood, professor of surgery at St Bartholomew's Hospital and a leading kidney surgeon, is moving after 10 years at Bart's to the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield. Colleagues say the 'chaos' of London health care and disruption caused by the merger with the Royal London Hospital Trust led to his decision.
Dr David Bihari, director of the intensive care unit at Guy's and St Thomas's Hospital Trust, and an outspoken critic of the Government's decision to run down Guy's, once the flagship trust hospital, as part of a merger with St Thomas's. Dr Bihari has said he will move to Australia to take up a post at St George's Hospital, Sydney if the hospital is rundown as planned. 'I built up a world famous department here. If it is going to close it shows the Government has no regard for quality or academic excellence. They are only interested in supermarket health care.'