National clinical director for cancer (2010 ranking: 46)

It was, perhaps, good luck for Sir Mike that the change of government brought a prime minister whose pet health interest was cancer and a health secretary passionate about end-of-life care. That alone, however, does not explain why the professor - a personable and tactful figure who has been national cancer director since 1999 - has been among the most successful of the medical “tsars” in adapting to the new administration.

Next year will see him working to deliver the new £750m cancer strategy, which the government hopes will boost survival rates by 5,000 a year by 2015.