• Sharmila Nebhrajani has held several executive and non-executive roles at health organisations
  • If appointed, she will be NICE’s third ever substantive chair

The government has named its preferred candidate to chair the board of the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence.

Sharmila Nebhrajani’s suitability will be assessed at a health and social care committee hearing in March. Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock will then decide whether to appoint her as NICE chair.

Ms Nebhrajani is currently chief executive of Wilton Park, a Foreign and Commonwealth Office agency that provides a forum for strategic discussion on issues like global health.

She has previously been chair of the Human Tissue Authority, chief executive of the Association of Medical Research, director of external affairs of the Medical Research Council, and deputy chair of research watchdog the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.

Ms Nebhrajani, who also holds non-executive roles at the Health Foundation and the British Medical Journal, was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2014 for services to medical research.

Outside of health, she has been a non-executive director of the board of National Savings & Investment since 2017. Last week, she was reappointed to the role for three more years.

She previously spent 12 years at the BBC, during which she oversaw the launch of the iplayer streaming platform.

In a statement, the Department of Health and Social Care said Ms Nebhrajani was chosen as the government’s preferred candidate after “an open and rigorous recruitment exercise”.

However, the DHSC declined to confirm how many candidates were interviewed for the position, which was first advertised online last summer. NICE declined to comment on the ongoing appointment process.

If appointed, Ms Nebhrajani will be the third ever substantive chair of NICE. Sir David Haslam held the role from 2013 to 2019, taking over from Sir Michael Rawlins who chaired the body from its inception in 1999.

Tim Irish took over as chair on an interim basis in January. He is leading the search for a chief executive to follow Andrew Dillon, who founded the body in 1999. Sir Andrew is due to leave his post in March.