Steve Smith, principal, Faculty of medicine, Imperial College London and chief executive, Imperial College Healthcare trust

Not content with taking the helm at the newly merged, largest trust in the NHS, Steve Smith has created the country’s first academic health science centre then seen the idea imported into government policy.

Having declared his intention to create the research giant out of Hammersmith Hospitals and St Mary’s trusts and Imperial College London in March last year, he was confirmed as chief executive of the newly formed Imperial Healthcare trust just seven months later.

Now that academic health science centres have been formally endorsed as being key to innovation in the health service, several major institutions are playing catch-up and the effect is being felt internationally. Professor Smith has also been aware of domestic priorities, talking up the importance of primary care and ending the “idea of an isolated hospital”.

His personal leadership is considered to have been crucial and could mean Imperial succeeds in finding the holy grail of linking research to frontline healthcare where others have failed.