Professor Baldacchino stepping down as Director of Research, Innovation and Knowledge

Tuesday 3 May 2022
Professor Alex Baldacchino

Professor Alexander Baldacchino steps down after 18 years as Director of Research, Innovation and Knowledge at NHS Fife

Professor Alexander Baldacchino on April 30 2022, stepped down as Director of Research, Innovation and Knowledge at NHS Fife.

A Professor of Medicine, Psychiatry and Addictions at the University of St Andrews, Alex Baldacchino wears many hats when working as a Senior Consultant in Addiction Medicine at the NHS Fife Addiction Services and as Director for Research, Innovation and Knowledge at NHS Fife (originally called Research and Development before its scope was expanded three years ago). He also serves voluntarily as the President of The International Society of Addiction Medicine (ISAM), an organisation of roughly 14,000 members comprising professionals working mostly in the field of addiction.

Professor Baldacchino described being honoured to have had the opportunity to be a part of the department’s long history, from having no clinical research activity to being currently manned by circa 25 staff providing the right research and governance and fostering a healthy relationship between the University of St Andrews and NHS Fife.

The Professor highlighted three notable milestones out of the many achievements during his time as director. The first was when the department became a separate entity dedicated to research and development 15 years ago. He recalled how the NHS executive board trusted and empowered the department such that researchers within NHS Fife could reach out for support. The second was 10 years ago when the department set up a team of research nurses geared towards certain pathologies with different funding sources. This resulted in the opening of the first-ever clinical research facility at the Victoria Hospital and opened up the ability for researchers to undertake complex research and clinical trials. The research facility was opened by the Chief Scientist, receiving recognition from the Scottish Government and the Scottish research community. More recently, recognising the success of the department, the NHS Fife entrusted on the department the responsibility to lead on innovation, setting up an innovation section led by an innovation manager and attracting top talent from within the industry and academia.

Working with amazing people throughout the years has been the most rewarding part of Professor Baldacchino’s time as director. “I feel privileged to have been in a position where I was able to be sort of a gardener, nurturing top talents and seeing them grow in their careers and in academia, attracting grants and receiving national and international recognition”, he said.

The years have however had their challenges, but Professor Baldacchino described this as a necessary component of any successful career. “Sometimes people think that normality is without challenges but it’s quite the opposite because without them you cannot grow. They bring the opportunistic moments of change,” he said. He emphasized the need to build relationships and maintain a good reputation. “I tried my best even in the worst of times to be responsible, friendly, supportive, respectful of what was happening in the clinical environment”.

On his prospected plans, the professor discussed his work which explores the use of digital-based interactions in reducing the number of fatal overdoses which is disproportionately high in Scotland, compared to the rest of Europe. He is the chair of the Scottish Health and Industry Partnership (SHIP) Innovation Consortium focused around reducing fatal drug overdoses in Scotland. “I am really excited because this is something I’ve been working on for the last ten years, and I know once academia, health and social care and industry start working together on specific identified challenges on this topic it will actually start to save lives,” he said.

All at the School of Medicine congratulate Professor Baldacchino on his contribution to the success of Research, Innovation and Knowledge at NHS Fife of the past 18 years, and look forward to seeing what this new chapter brings.


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