Home » About » Governance » Election of FPM President 2024

Election of FPM President 2024

Voting for the election of the post of FPM President is now OPEN

The candidates are:

  • Dr Philip Ambery MBChB FRCP FFPM eMBA
  • Dr Birge Berns MD MRCP MSc MSc FFPM
  • Dr Sheuli Porkess FFPM FRCP GFMD

Candidate statements are published below (in alphabetical order).

You are reminded that Fellows and Members, but not Affiliates, Associates, Honorary Fellows and Honorary Members are eligible to vote in this ballot.

The statements have been prepared by the candidates and do not reflect official FPM views or the current status of FPM. Candidates’ statements and videos are presented as submitted and have not been edited by FPM.

Dr Philip Ambery MBChB FRCP FFPM eMBA

I’m seeking your vote to build on the legacy of the current President and other members of the 1989 generation. Together we can build on their incredible effort, further broadening diversity of our faculty and engagement with our stakeholders.


Priority 1: Support diversity amongst or members and associates

My first priority is to support the incredibly diverse range of our members and associates, wherever they are and at whatever stage of their careers they are in. Our London based members are predominantly working in local affiliates in medical affairs. We need to support all personalities including those less extroverted, for example those in a patient safety or regulatory role.

The modern pharmaceutical industry is global, our members and fellows are spread around the world, we make it difficult to revalidate abroad, and it’s impossibly hard to train as a pharmaceutical physician in a foreign country under the UK scheme. Why?, it’s understandable that the GMC doesn’t accept foreign training in wider medical practice, but a global role is a global role, irrespective of country or continent.

I will engage in  honest and open engagement with the GMC to examine the possibility of training whilst based in roles abroad, of course with appropriate trainer supervision, and improve options for doctors beyond the out of program experience. We should also be engaging with the CESR route, we have many colleagues abroad who would welcome the chance for UK consultant status. Where there is a need for speciality recognition outside the UK, why not partner with local registration bodies to help make this happen?

Rather than seeing our colleagues who are away from London, in other parts of the UK or abroad, as an inconvenience, I want to drive the Faculty forward to engage with them, encouraging diversity in and local access to educational activities and utilising their untapped expertise to support recognition of and interaction with our incredible base of talent. In my role as an assessor helping the faculty with revalidation I’ve met many Pharmaceutical Physicians working on smaller companies or CROs who are like a rudderless boat drifting across the sea. Although I’ve played my role in mentoring them through the revalidation process, helping them find direction, I can only hope to have a large impact on a small number of individuals. Whilst I utterly support the diversification and recognition of allied medical specialities in industry, we need to set our own house in order too.


Priority 2: Establish Pharmaceutical Medicine as the primary speciality for medicines development

The other key priority is to build on the success of industry and the recognition of the crucial role our speciality played in combatting COVID-19. Whilst there was an initial blush of enthusiasm for the incredible science which took place over an 18 month period, there are signs the support is waning. Many of us don’t engage with Tik Tok or Instagram, yet they are crucial to engaging with new generations and securing their support for the crucial job that we do. We can already see the negative effects of vaccine fatigue with respect to recent measles outbreaks, a direct result of not engaging with a younger demographic. Against this background it’s really important to play our role in engaging with the wider public, including local community organisations, religious groups, schools and universities about the value of new medicines.

Although it’s attractive to believe that our greatest pharmaceutical physicians entered the profession because it was what they always wanted to do, for many, including me, it was a second or third choice career. We need to do a better job in helping medical schools and Universities inform their undergraduate students about the speciality and facilitate access for future pharmaceutical physicians, moving it up the ladder of choices for the future.

The Faculty should be the first port of call for media outlets to comment on issues and news about medicines efficacy and safety. We can achieve this by better engagement with a diverse range of stakeholders, particularly with social media.

The current Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine is a good institution, but it’s not a great one and can come across as London centric. Our current president and colleagues have done a great job in creating the faculty from a standing start and developing it to the institution it is today, but there is further work to be done. Let’s continue to develop the faculty and work together to make it not only a good institution, but a great one for the future.

Dr Philip Ambery

Supporting candidate video

Dr Birge Berns MD MRCP MSc MSc FFPM

I am an enthusiastic and committed pharmaceutical physician and team leader, with 30 years experience in global drug development. I feel strongly about the importance of our specialty and the unique position of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine as an independent registered charity representing our specialty. I now want to serve our Faculty as your President. My vision is to build on the Faculty’s foundation and create a stronger organisation through harnessing the wealth of expertise within our membership to make it more impactful and relevant for pharmaceutical physicians, public health and patients.

In implementing my vision, I will draw on all of you and consider a wide range of activities, both internally (training, committees, working groups) and externally (partnerships with academia, industry, regulators and government) and assess opportunities in the UK, Europe and globally.

My two priorities will be to

  1. gain a solid understanding of the membership needs by engaging and consulting
    with all of you and more widely with external stakeholders, including all those
    practising pharmaceutical medicine, the Academy of Medical Sciences and Royal
    Colleges, MHRA, NICE and the life sciences industry, to revise our strategy
  2. review and better define our overall governance structure to get clarity on
    decision making and roles and responsibilities within FPM and re-establish and
    secure financial sustainability.

Good governance is essential to our credibility and success as an organisation. I have experience in leading within complex governance structures through my work on projects in partnerships, on the integration of companies and my current role as CMO. As your President, I will take responsibility for oversight of the governance of FPM, bringing a fresh pair of eyes.

Scientific curiosity and finding innovative ways to translate science into medical practice have been the driver throughout my career – from my time in the NHS in hospital medicine/rheumatology through the Industry, focusing on immunology and immuno-oncology. I have been running clinical trials in both early and late development, leading cross-functional teams across Europe and globally for major pharma companies and biotechs. As global regulatory leader I oversaw whole development programs, collating all data to discuss with global Health Authorities, led benefit risk assessments and prepared full regulatory submissions and product launches, including market access. This work was only possible through close collaboration with internal and external teams. I developed strong influencing and networking skills to motivate my teams and drive projects to completion.

My MSc in Pharmaceutical Medicine at Surrey University led to the Diploma in Pharmaceutical Medicine and then full Membership and Fellowship of FPM. I am a strong advocate of partnership, and chaired working groups for networks of academics, regulators and business representatives to drive consensus on key topics for our specialty. I foster links to academia: my MSc in Oncology at the Institute of Cancer Research led me to teaching regularly on their course, and completing the Executive Health Innovation Management Program at Imperial College Business School gave me an appreciation for the challenges and complexities of innovation in healthcare.

I set high standards for myself, and others, and therefore became an FPM Appraiser. I joined the Policy& Communication Group which I now chair. In this role, I initiated a major review of the scope and function of the expert groups, exemplifying the expertise of our members and potentially influencing best practice in the community. I drove the implementation of an action plan to optimise their effectiveness, leading to better engagement, structure and communication both within and external to FPM. I will build on that work to establish better internal communication lines, linking the voice of these groups horizontally across the other Committees, and vertically up to the Board, and to enhance the voice of FPM and its reputation externally.

As an independent registered charity, everything we do is ultimately for public benefit. This independence gives us a special position and voice, bridging between the private and public sector, trusted by public bodies such as regulators, NICE and governmental committees and the private life science industry. We must use this opportunity to educate the public on what it takes to develop innovative medicines and the value they bring to patients as well as the wider society.

In conclusion, as your President I will:

  • Serve all members of our specialty.
  • Maintain and raise standards of the practice of pharmaceutical medicine to
    support the development, commercialisation, and appropriate and safe use of
  • Serve all interests – within the FPM’s charitable objectives – to increase our impact
    on medical practice.

Dr Birge Berns

Supporting candidate video

Dr Sheuli Porkess FFPM FRCP GFMD

The Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine (FPM) now 35 years old, and, I believe, at a key point in its development. We now have cohorts of pharmaceutical physicians globally who have progressed specialist training in Pharmaceutical Medicine and are now today’s leaders in Pharmaceutical Medicine. The FPM has significantly improved the understanding of pharmaceutical medicine across other specialties and also with the public, having played a critical part in the recent pandemic, propelling the practice of pharmaceutical medicine from the almost unknown to being discussed on primetime News.

It is now time to build on this strong base, built by the founders of FPM and the specialty, to whom we owe our thanks, and to look ahead to the next 35 years of advancing the science and practice of pharmaceutical medicine for the benefit of patients everywhere.

If elected, the first key priority I would seek to address would be to advance the science and practice of pharmaceutical medicine. An explosion of technical and scientific advances is driving pharmaceutical development and opening up amazing possibilities to improve health (e.g. vaccines, precision medicines, advanced therapies, digital health and medical devices). As a specialty, we are uniquely positioned to ensure these developments are used effectively to address both current and future health needs. This means pivoting the specialty to be more future facing. We must ensure that the power of new technologies is understood and appropriately regulated through our work in education, setting standards and working with policy-makers. We need to further embed equality, diversity and inclusion in how we work and engage with patients and work towards global health, taking into account environmental issues (e.g.  decarbonising clinical trials). This theme links to the FPM strategy and it’s now time to embed this into FPM work.

The second key priority is the need to strengthen the understanding of, and trust in, pharmaceutical medicine and its impact as a multidisciplinary specialty. The theme of trust is reflected in FPM’s current strategy. Strengthening trust requires supporting pharmaceutical physicians to work to high standards through education, training, examinations and specialist recognition. It also includes building on the work we have started with undergraduate medical training, with other Medical Colleges and Institutions, Health Charities, working with patients and patient organisations, collaborating internationally and working across the life sciences ecosystem, including with government. We need to build on the significant increase in interest in the specialty that arose from Covid where FPM and its members played important roles in contributing to important solutions such as the vaccine developments, alongside engaging clinicians, patients, the public and policy-makers.

Critically we need to engage FPM’s membership to ensure we understand member’s needs and what FPM can do further to support them in practicing pharmaceutical medicine in today’s environment. This means understanding the full range of work within pharmaceutical medicine, both new and established, and reflecting this in the education, training, standards, policy work and support for members of FPM. It’s also important that FPM can offer volunteering opportunities that are engaging and fulfilling and bring together our members’ expertise.

If elected, as the first president who has completed pharmaceutical medicine specialist training, I grasp the significance of a well-trained workforce in this field and empathise with the challenges of training and revalidation. Currently serving as vice-president and Trustee of FPM since November 2021, with a history as chair of the FPM Policy and Communications Group during the pandemic, and as an examiner, I bring over 15 years of experience within FPM. This tenure provides me with profound insights into FPM’s workings, governance as a charity, challenges faced by our small specialty, and the opportunities within our reach.

My diverse experience in pharmaceutical medicine spans medical affairs, clinical development, pharmacovigilance, regulatory affairs, quality management, policy, and my current role in AI and real-world data. Having worked internationally in various settings, including pharmaceutical companies, trade associations, SMEs, and as an independent consultant, I understand both specific and common challenges in pharmaceutical medicine.

As the former Executive Director of Research, Medicine, and Innovation at the ABPI, I recognise the importance of engaging with policymakers and stakeholders across our specialty’s ecosystem. My past efforts, such as uniting diverse groups on critical topics like clinical research, women’s health, antimicrobial resistance, patient involvement, Brexit, COVID, multimorbidity, and rare diseases, showcase my commitment.

As the next President, if elected, I am eager to apply my expertise to advance pharmaceutical medicine, serve FPM membership, and contribute to the organization’s mission, ultimately benefiting patients.

Dr Sheuli Porkess

Supporting candidate video

Election schedule

Wednesday 28 February 2024 – Voting opens

17:00 (UK time), Tuesday 19 March 2024 – Voting closes

The results will be announced shortly after the closing date.