Ed Byrne (academic)

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Ed Byrne

20th Principal of King's College London
Assumed office
Preceded bySir Rick Trainor
Personal details
Born15 February 1952 (1952-02-15) (age 68)
Alma materUniversity of Tasmania
University of Queensland
University of Melbourne
University of Adelaide

Edward Byrne AC FTSE FRACP FRCPE FRCP (born 15 February 1952)[1] is a neuroscientist currently serving as Principal of King's College London, having replaced Sir Rick Trainor in August 2014.[2]

He was previously Vice-Chancellor of Monash University.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Byrne grew up in northeast England, the son of a general practitioner, and moved to Australia at the age of 15.[3] He studied medicine at the University of Tasmania, graduating with a Bachelor of Medical Science in 1971; Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degrees (with First Class Honours) in 1974; and a Doctor of Medicine in 1982. Byrne also holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Queensland, a Diploma in Clinical Science from the University of Adelaide and a Doctor of Science from the University of Melbourne.

Byrne is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, the Royal College of Physicians of London, the American Academy of Neurology and the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, and a Senior Fellow of the American Neurological Association.

Professional career[edit]

Byrne's career in neuroscience combined prominent work as both a researcher and clinician.[4] His career began in Adelaide, South Australia, as Neurology Registrar at the Royal Adelaide Hospital in 1978. In 1979, he left Australia to undertake a research fellowship in clinical neurology in London.[5]

He returned to Australia to become Director of Neurology at St Vincent's Hospital, Melbourne in 1983 - at just 31 years old.[6]

In 1993, he became Founding Director of the Melbourne Neuromuscular Research Unit and later the Centre for Neuroscience, going on to become Professor of Clinical Neurology in 1992 and Experimental Neurology at the University of Melbourne in 2001.

His contribution to neuroscience has been particularly strong in mitochondrial disease.[3] In 2006, his work was recognised when he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia.[7]

Byrne first went to Monash University in 2003, when he was made Dean of its Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences,[8] a role he held until 2007.

He then returned to the UK, where he became Vice-Provost (Health) at University College London (initially serving as Dean of its Faculty of Biomedical Sciences and Head of its School of Medicine).[4][6]

In 2009, Monash University announced that Byrne would replace Richard Larkins, its outgoing Vice-Chancellor. Immediately upon his appointment, Byrne undertook a restructuring of the University's management and administration, placing the ten faculties into four "clusters". The aim of this was to encourage inter-disciplinary collaboration and reduce duplication across faculties (cutting administrative costs).[9] Byrne stated that, in his term as Vice-Chancellor, he wanted Monash to consolidate and increase the research output of its international campuses in Malaysia and South Africa, and its graduate academy in India, tapping into regional research funding.[10] He led the establishment of the Monash campus in Suzhou, China in collaboration with South East University, championed close links with Peking University and led a global alliance between Monash and Warwick universities with Nigel Thrift. In his time as vice-chancellor, Monash University consolidated a position as a top 100 research university. Monash's engagement in South Africa was strengthened by a partnership with the Laureate group.

In 2014, Byrne was appointed a guest professor by Peking University Health Science Center (PUHSC).[11] He was also made an Honorary Citizen for Jiangsu Province, China in September 2014.[12]

In September 2014, Byrne was appointed Principal and President of King's College London.[13] He has launched a number of transformation initiatives under the banner of a 'King's Futures' change programme with the stated aim of securing a sustained position for King's as a top 20 global university by the end of the decade. He has focused particular attention on growing international student numbers and increasing the scale of King's research and educational activities in the area of natural and technological sciences and business and management studies.

In addition to his role in universities and medical research, Byrne has served on the boards of various commercial biomedical enterprises, including Cochlear and BUPA.[6] Byrne is a member of the Patrons Council of the Epilepsy Foundation of Victoria.

In his personal life he has a keen interest in fly fishing and classical music and poetry.[14] He has published four books of poetry through Melbourne University Press.[15] The publication of the first "Poems from the city" (2010) was greeted as an insult by Melbourne University Press (arguably Australia’s most prestigious publisher) to other well established Australian poets by Geoff Page based in part on Byrne’s "amateur" status as a poet. MUP went onto publish three more poetry books.


On 26 January 2006, Byrne was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for service to neurology as a clinician and academic and to advances in medical research, particularly in the area of mitochondrial muscle disease.[7]

On 26 January 2014, Byrne was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) for eminent service to tertiary education, particularly through leadership and governance roles with Monash University, to biomedical teaching and research, as a scientist and academic mentor, and as a contributor to improved global health.[16]

Byrne was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science by the University of Warwick in July 2013, and an Honorary Doctor of Medicine by the University of Adelaide in August 2014. He is also a recipient of the Queens Square Prize for Neurological Research of the UCL Institute of Neurology and is an Emeritus Professor of Monash University.[17]

In 2015, Byrne was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science from Western University [18] and was made an Honorary Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences (AAHMS).[19]

In 2017, Byrne became an Honorary Professor at Peking University Health Science Centre [20] and a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Tsinghua University. He was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Law by Monash University in 2017.[21]

In 2019, Byrne was awarded a Doctor Medical Sciences (Honoris Causa) from the University of Sydney and was elected to the Academy of Medical Sciences (UK)


  1. ^ "Profile of Professor Margaret Gardner AO – President and Vice-Chancellor". Monash University.
  2. ^ a b College appoints Byrne as new Principal, 6 June 2013, King's College London
  3. ^ a b http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,,25747766-12332,00.html?from=public_rss
  4. ^ a b "Dean of the UCL Faculty of Biomedical Sciences appointed". www.ucl.ac.uk.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 13 October 2009. Retrieved 19 October 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ a b c http://www.monash.edu.au/news/newsline/story/1371
  7. ^ a b "Officer of the Order of Australia (AO)". It's an Honour. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 26 January 2006. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
  8. ^ "The Office of the Vice-Chancellor". Monash University.
  9. ^ http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25948080-12332,00.html
  10. ^ "New chief Ed Byrne wants Monash University on regional map - - STUDY Now Australia". Archived from the original on 4 December 2013. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  11. ^ http://english.pku.edu.cn/News_Events/News/Focus/11502.htm
  12. ^ "King's College London - China province makes King's Principal honorary citizen". www.kcl.ac.uk.
  13. ^ "King's College London - King's College London appoints Professor Edward Byrne as new Principal". www.kcl.ac.uk.
  14. ^ Tomazin, Farrah (18 November 2008). "Softly spoken Byrne aims to be a loud Monash voice". The Age.
  15. ^ "Ed Byrne". Melbourne University Publishing. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  16. ^ "Companion of the Order of Australia (AC)" (PDF). Governor-General of Australia. 26 January 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
  17. ^ http://www.monash.edu.au/research/people/profiles/profile.html?sid=12979&pid=4385
  18. ^ "Dr. Edward Byrne accepts Honorary Degree at Schulich Medicine Convocation - Schulich Communications - Western University". www.schulich.uwo.ca.
  19. ^ http://www.aahms.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/AAHMS-New-Fellows-6-Oct-2015.pdf
  20. ^ "President Edward Byrne of King's College London appointed as Honorary Professor at PKUHSC_Peking University". english.pku.edu.cn. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  21. ^ "Records Archives". Records Archives.
Academic offices
Preceded by
Sir Rick Trainor
Principal of King's College London
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Richard Larkins
Vice-Chancellor of Monash University
Succeeded by
Margaret Gardner