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After studying Statistics at the University of Aberdeen, David worked at BBSRC as a consultant statistician. David was a Director at Royal Holloway, University of London, before becoming Vice-Principal.
As Director of HEFCE, he led the development and implementation of the Research Excellence Framework. He was responsible for research policy and funding, knowledge exchange and university/business relations.
In May 2017 he was appointed the first Executive Chair of Research England, one of the nine research councils that forms UKRI, who are the biggest research funder in the UK with responsibility for university block-grant funding for research and knowledge exchange.