Harry Burns graduated in medicine from Glasgow University in 1974. For the first 15 years of
his career, he was a surgeon and, for 5 years, was Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant
Surgeon in Sir David Carters unit in Glasgow Royal Infirmary. It was working in the east end
of Glasgow that made him interested in the causes of wellbeing rather than the treatment
of illness. He trained in Public Health, was Medical Director of the Royal Infirmary, Director
of Public Health for Glasgow and, from 2005 until 2014 was Chief Medical Officer for
As a surgeon, he researched the metabolic response to illness and injury. His interest in
health inequalities has also centred on the biological consequences of poverty and social
disparity. His studies have included the economic impact of health and social inequalities.
He was Knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2011 and in 2014 was awarded a
Lifetime Achievement Award for Public Service which was presented by the First Minister on
behalf of the Scottish Government and Parliament.
He currently works as a Professor at Strathclyde University in its Health and Care Futures