Our weekly guide to healthcare's most influential people No 70

Published: 16/05/2002, Volume II2, No. 5805 Page 10

Name: Professor Sir Liam Donaldson

Job: Chief medical officer

Style: Has 'tremendous resilience and understanding', is 'a starter and a finisher', dislikes bureaucracy and likes to get on with things.

Frustration at the lack of committee progress on producing a report on the global dangers of infectious diseases, Getting Ahead of the Curve , led him to use his holiday to finish it off. Lives in London, although his heart is in the North East. A passionate Newcastle United supporter, he now also follows his local club, Fulham.Exudes a remarkable calm and appears unflappable, but 'doesn't suffer fools gladly'.A 'serious healthcare professional at heart', and a man to have on your side: 'If you have his confidence, you can shoot to kill.'His in-tray has included MMR vaccination, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, patient safety and the Alder Hey inquiry, to name but a few.

Background: Graduated from, and received honorary doctorates from, more universities than most people can name.Started his medical career in surgery and faced amazed questioning when he switched to public health.Director of public health for regional health authorities in the North East and Yorkshire from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s.Then combined the role with that of regional director, becoming CMO in 1998.

Co-author, with his father, of a standard textbook on public health.Knighted in the 2002 new year honours list.

Future prospects: It would have to be a big job - a chief exec role would probably cause him to 'pop a gasket with absolute frustration'.The international field could beckon, but a vicechancellorship seems the favoured route after a good many more years as CMO.