Sir Gordon Duff has been appointed external chair of the Scientific Advisory Group on Pandemic Influenza

The Department of Health’s Scientific Advisory Group on Pandemic Influenza (SAG), which advised on the scientific evidence base for health-related pandemic influenza policies, has appointed professor Sir Gordon Duff as an external chair of the group.

Professor Gordon Duff is currently a Florey Professor of Molecular Medicine at Sheffield University, the chair of Commission on Human Medicines and the chair of the National Biological Standards Board

Recruitment of an independent chair is part of the revision that the SAG is currently undergoing. Further changes are that the membership is being extended to include a wider range of scientific disciplines. The scientific disciplines represented within the revised SAG will include, but not be limited to, traditional infectious diseases-related sciences such as virology and immunology, as well as sciences such as risk management, behavioural sciences and diagnostics. The diversity of scientific disciplines is a result of the far-reaching implications of an influenza pandemic as well as the cross-government nature of this advisory group.

The SAG will continue to include its current sub-group on systematic modelling of the impact of a pandemic and the effect of interventions. This group brings together internationally respected experts in the area who represent different modelling approaches to maximise confidence in the results.

Besides providing advice on specific questions, the revised SAG will act as an information network for the government to ensure that it is informed of important developments in pandemic influenza related sciences, which could affect government policy.

The appointment is for three years and this post is not remunerated. The appointment is made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process. However, in accordance with the original Nolan recommendations, there is a requirement for appointees' political activity (if any declared) to be made public. Professor Sir Gordon Duff has declared no political activity, other ministerial appointments to scientific advisory committees have been listed above. The appointment's process was conducted by the Appointments Commission and the appointment has been made in accordance with the OCPA Code of Practice.

Experts around the world share the view that a global pandemic of influenza could emerge and could cause millions of deaths. It is not possible to predict when this will occur. In the UK alone, a pandemic could affect 25-50 per cent of the population and cause up to 750,000 deaths.