Alumni Profile: Jennifer Dixon

Jennifer Dixon awarded a damehood in the King’s New Year Honours List for services to the NHS and public health
Jennifer Dixon

Current job title and organisation

Chief executive, The Health Foundation (an independent foundation)

Can you please tell us a bit about your current work/research?

The Health Foundation’s work is extensive but focuses on three broad areas. The first is improving policy, in which we analyse current and possible future reforms to health and social care. We look at the main reform issues, and also international comparisons. The second is population health where our focus has been on tackling the wider determinants of health and reducing inequalities. And the third is a special focus on improvement and innovation in health care, where we are focusing on digital health, artificial intelligence and better evaluation of emerging technologies.

What course and year did you study at LSHTM?

1990/1 – I can’t believe it is a third of a century ago!

How did it feel to be awarded a damehood in the King’s New Year Honours List?         

Literally an honour of course! But very much a collective effort also from all the teams I work with and individuals internal and external to the Health Foundation. I do hope it adds some spice and influence to all of our work. I also hope that it will encourage younger (and possibly shy introverted) women to feel they can flourish.

Why did you choose to study with LSHTM?

At the time it was the only centre in London offering an MSc in Public Health, and was part of the NHS’s excellent public health training programme. It was a fantastic experience.

Did you have to overcome any challenges to study with us?     

Not really. Mainly to expand my cognitive wavelength into a wider range of subjects than clinical medicine. And the MSc did just that, and helped me realise that policy, economics and health services research were really the things that interested me.

Did you receive a scholarship or any financial support from the school to assist you with your studies?

Yes – the MSc course itself was paid for by the NHS, and my salary on the training scheme also. I am eternally grateful and want to give as much back to the NHS and public health as possible.

What were your favourite memories from your studies with us?          

On subjects - I was most interested in NHS policy as taught then by Prof Howard Glennerster at LSE. On people – there are so many impressive, supportive and fun colleagues particularly in the Health Services Research Unit – students and staff. On the location – the fabulous food in the restaurant of course and the deep leather armchairs in the library by those huge windows.

How has your LSHTM degree helped you in your career?          

I did the MSc at a transitional point and it helped me redirect my career to areas I was most suited to. The range of subjects on offer allowed me to ‘sort’, and this was a tremendous shortcut to a better path – in my case policy.

What would you like to achieve in future?       

I’d just like to continue in some way trying to help shape the NHS onto a better path to serve the nation as best as it can now and in the future. That sounds very grandiose, but I try to do this really by influencing and doing research – clear dissection and thinking about issues is particularly powerful. There is some value in having been around for so long and being able to spot what work is most needed and when and how it might be the most impactful.

Do you have any advice for students/recent graduates?

It really is all about focus and graft! Knowing your stuff.

Any other comments?

Studying at the School is such a rich experience – make the very most of it!

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