Ron Zimmern created the original Public Health Genetics Unit in 1997 and its successor the PHG Foundation in 2007. He stood down as Chief Executive in September 2009 to become Chairman of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees, where his role is in governance and strategic development.
Ron has enjoyed a distinguished career in medicine, public health and policy, and is the pioneer of public health genomics in the UK. He was Founding Chairman of GRAPH-Int, the public health genomics international network, until 2010 and continues to be active in an international leadership role, working closely with colleagues and institutions around the world, including in the USA, Canada, Europe and Hong Kong.
Ron trained at Cambridge and London, specialising in neurology before entering public health medicine in 1983. During the 1980s he took a law degree and developed an enduring interest in the law and ethics of medicine. He was Director of Public Health for Cambridge and Huntingdon Health Authority from 1991 to 1998, with a special interest in the strategic planning of health care, the relationship between clinical services and teaching and research, and priority setting in the NHS.
Ron has previously served on the Department of Health’s Genetics Commissioning Advisory Group; the Steering Group for the National Genetic Testing Network, the Joint Committee of Medical Genetics of the Royal Colleges; the Council for the British Society of Human Genetics; and as Chairman of the Diagnostic and Screening Panel of the UK’s Health Technology Assessment programme.
He has close links with the University of Cambridge and Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, having formerly held posts as an Associate Lecturer and Honorary Consultant in Public Health Medicine at Addenbrooke's Hospital. Ron is also a Fellow of Hughes Hall, Cambridge, and holds an honorary Professorship at the University of Hong Kong.
Burke W, Zimmern R. Ensuring the appropriate use of genetic tests Nature Reviews Genetics. 2004;5(12):955-8
Liddell K, Menon D, Zimmern R. The Human Tissue Bill and the Mental Capacity Bill British Medical Journal. 2004;328(7455):1510-1
Detmer D, Ling T, Melzer D, Zimmern R. Regulatory options for pharmacogenetics Pharmacogenomics. 2003;4(5):527-30
Detmer D, Melzer D, Zimmern R. Pharmacogenetics and public policy: expert views in Europe and North America Pharmacogenomics. 2003;4(6):689-91
Stewart A, Zimmern R. (Almost) three cheers for UK genetics White Paper The Lancet. 2003;362(9381):341-2
Austin M, Zimmern R. High "population attributable fraction" for coronary heart disease mortality among relatives in monogenic familial hypercholesterolemia Genetics in Medicine. 2002;4(4):275-8
OLeary P, Zimmern R. Genomics and public health: translating research into public benefit. Public Health Genomics. 2010;13(4):193-6. Epub 2010 Apr 15
Zimmern R. Genomic medicine: the future is now. Lessons for Hong Kong from the House of Lords Report on Genomic Medicine Hong Kong Medical Journal. 2009 Oct;15(5):324-5
Zimmern R. Testing challenges: evaluation of novel diagnostics and molecular biomarkers Clinical Medicine. 2009 Feb 9(1): 68-73
Hogarth S, Liddell K, Ling T, Melzer D, Sanderson S, Zimmern R. Genetic tests for common diseases: new insights, old concerns British Medical Journal. 2008 Mar 15;336(7644):590-3
Gwinn M, Higgins J, Ioannidis J, Little J, Zimmern R. A roadmap for developing an efficient and credible human genome epidemiology Nature Genetics. 2006;38(1):3-5
Christianson A, Zimmern R. Health needs assessment for medical genetic services for congenital disorders in middle- and low-income nations J Community Genet. 2013 Jun 23 [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 23794314
Biesecker L, Burke W, Kohane I, Plon S, Zimmern R. Next-generation sequencing in the clinic: are we ready? Nat Rev Genet. 2012 Nov;13(11):818-24. doi: 10.1038/nrg3357
Zimmern R. Genomics and individuals in public health practice: are we luddites or can we meet the challenge? Journal of Public Health (Oxf). 2011 Dec;33(4):477-82
Zimmern R. Issues concerning the evaluation and regulation of predictive genetic testing J Community Genet. 2014 Jan;5(1):49-57
Bennett R, Botkin J, Burke W, Clayton E, Henderson G, Holm I, Jarvik G, Khoury M, Knoppers B, Matheny A, Press N, Ross L, Rothstein M, Saal H, Uhlmann W, Wilfond B, Wolf S, Zimmern R. Recommendations for returning genomic incidental findings? We need to talk! Genet Medicine. 2013 Nov;15(11):854-9
Alberg C, Hall A, Hallowell N, Zimmern R. Revealing the results of whole-genome sequencing and whole-exome sequencing in research and clinical investigations: some ethical issues Journal of Medical Ethics. Epub 2014 Jul 18
Khoury M, Zimmern R. The impact of genomics on public health practice: the case for change Public Health Genomics. 2012;15(3-4):118-24
Burke W, Hall A, Karmali M, Khoury M, Knoppers B, Meslin E, Stanley F, Wright C, Zimmern R. Extending the reach of public health genomics: What should be the agenda for public health in an era of genome-based and "personalized" medicine? Genetics in Medicine. Vol 15, Nov 2010
Detmer D, Ling T, Melzer D, Raven A, Zimmern R. Pharmacogenetics: policy needs for personal prescribing Journal of Health Services Research and Policy. 2005;10(1):40-4
Hall A, Wright C, Zimmern R. Regulating direct-to-consumer genetic tests: What is all the fuss about? Genetics in Medicine. 2010 Oct 1 [Epub ahead of print]
Burton H, Wright C, Zimmern R. A new strategic phase for genomic medicine in UK health services Genome Medicine. 2009 Oct 12;1(10):93
Bellagio Group , Burke W, Khoury M, Stewart A, Zimmern R. The path from genome-based research to population health: development of an international public health genomics network Genetics In Medicine. 2006 Jul;8(7):451-8
Bowen S, Burke W, Gwinn M, Khoury M, Zimmern R. Will genomics widen or help heal the schism between medicine and public health? American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2007 Oct; 33(4):310-17
Burke W, Kroese M, Zimmern R. Defining purpose: a key step in genetic test evaluation Genetics in Medicine. 2007 9(10):675-681
Kroese M, Pinder S, Zimmern R. HER2 status in breast cancer - an example of pharmacogenetic testing Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. 2007 Jul;100(7):326-9
Stewart A, Zimmern R. Public health genomics: origins and basic concepts Italian Journal of Public Health. 2006; 3, 9-15
Emery J, Higgins J, Kroese M, Patch C, Sanderson S, Zimmern R. How can the evaluation of genetic tests be enhanced? Lessons learned from the ACCE framework and evaluating genetic tests in the United Kingdom Genetics in Medicine. 2005;7(7):495-500
Melzer D, Zimmern R. Genetics and medicalisation British Medical Journal. 2002;324(7342):863-4
Antoniou A, Bobrow M, Easton D, Pharoah P, Ponder B, Zimmern R. Polygenic susceptibility to breast cancer and implications for prevention Nature. 2002;31(1):33-6