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Cambridge Public Health


John Clarkson, Professor of Engineering Design and co-director of Cambridge Public Health, has been awarded the President's Medal from the Royal Academy of Engineering.

The award was presented to him at the Academy’s Annual General Meeting in London on 19 September by the Academy’s President Professor Sir Jim McDonald FREng FRSE.

This prestigious award is presented to a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering for their contribution to the Academy’s aims and work through their initiative in promoting excellence in Engineering.

The award recognises Professor Clarkson’s outstanding leadership in ‘Systems Thinking’ in healthcare — an interdisciplinary approach used to address complex, real-world challenges — describing him as "an international leader in systems thinking, especially in healthcare.

“His work is a core element of the Academy’s flagship Policy Fellowship programme and placed the Academy at the centre of systems thinking in government.

“No one has done more to embed systems thinking into UK policy and practice."

Commenting on his award, Professor Clarkson said, "I am delighted and more than a little surprised to receive the President's Medal for my part in developing a systems approach to improvement.

“This transformational work has been many years in the making, made possible by the contributions of colleagues in Cambridge, the Healthcare Thinking in Systems Working Group and the outstanding team at the Royal Academy of Engineering."

Professor Clarkson is an internationally distinguished scholar in engineering design. Using this expertise and his deep understanding of systems, his work aims to address challenges in the healthcare space.

He is currently developing an ‘Improving Improvement Toolkit' as part of the Engineering Better Care across Lancashire and South Cumbria initiative, supporting the redesign of hospital discharge processes in acute and mental health care, and bringing a systems approach to the delivery of advanced diagnostics for Alzheimer’s Disease.

In addition to his research, Professor Clarkson also works with faculties at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, King’s College London and the University of Cambridge to teach systems thinking to engineers, designers, healthcare professionals, and service providers. 2023 has been a notable year for Professor Clarkson.

In April, he was awarded an Excellence Fund from Delft University of Technology, and in July, he received an honorary doctorate from Brunel University London in recognition of his distinguished contribution to the field of engineering.