He succeeds Professor Sir John Savill in the post of Chief Scientist.
Professor Sir Harry Burns, Chief Medical Officer, said, “We are delighted to be able to appoint a researcher of Professor Morris's calibre to the post of Chief Scientist, where he will provide strategic leadership to the Life Sciences research community in Scotland. His particular area of expertise of Health Informatics is a growing area of interest both in Scotland and the wider UK and his appointment will further strengthen our position in this, and other clinical areas.”
Professor Morris said, “I am delighted and honoured to be joining the Chief Scientist Office at the Scottish Government, and look forward to working with colleagues to take forward the important agenda of health research. There are great opportunities to translate our outstanding NHS and University research capabilities into improved patient care and economic growth across Scotland.”
Professor Morris leads a research team at Dundee that uses informatics to improve the quality of care, and the study of the epidemiology and genetics of diabetes and its complications.
He has published over 230 original papers and attracted over £30 million in peer reviewed grant funding. He is the principal investigator on many clinical studies of new therapies and genetics of diabetes, including the Wellcome Trust United Kingdom Case Control Collection for Type 2 Diabetes that has recruited 20,000 individuals, and Generation Scotland, a study of the genetic health in 30,000 Scots.
He was awarded the RD Lawrence Award by Diabetes UK in 2003, the Saltire Society Scottish Science Award in 2005 and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scotland’s national academy of science and letters, Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.
He was appointed by the Minister for Health and Community Care to be Lead Clinician for diabetes in Scotland (2002-2006) and led a national programme of quality improvement in diabetes care. He is a Governor of the Health Foundation and since 2010 has been Convenor of Health Science Scotland, a collaboration between the Universities of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee, NHS Scotland and Scottish Enterprise, that aims to bring together Scotland's cutting-edge expertise in clinical and biomedical science into a globally competitive cluster.
In 2007 he co-founded Aridhia Informatics, a health care informatics company that now employs 50 people in Edinburgh and Dundee, which is exporting Scottish know how to the United Kingdom, Middle East and Australasia.