Chief medical officer, DH (2010 ranking: 14)

England’s first female chief medical officer has been less outspoken than her predecessor, Sir Liam Donaldson, no doubt something of a relief to her political masters. Appointed on a permanent basis in March after almost a year as an interim, Dame Sally describes her new role as the head of the public health profession, a reference to the increasing public health focus of the DH.

Well respected in Whitehall, she will be instrumental in shaping the development of Public Health England, which is to be set up with a degree of independence from the DH. How the DH-based CMO role will interact with the PHE medical director is still unclear. Significantly, Dame Sally has chosen to keep hold of her previous portfolio and first love, research and development, and retains the title of director general for R&D and chief scientific adviser.

The increased policy focus on research and development as a crucial string to the government’s growth strategy puts political will behind an issue Dame Sally has been quietly working at for years - increasing research cooperation between the NHS and the pharmaceutical sector. A consultant haematologist by background, she established the National Institute for Health Research.