The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, an international leader in cancer treatment and research, has appointed Professor Chris Harrison to be its executive medical director.

Professor Harrison is a highly experienced clinician, with top quality clinical leadership skills and the ability to build strong collaborations with key medical partners and commissioners.

His role will be to provide strategic leadership for The Christie's ambition to be recognised as one of the top five comprehensive cancer centres in the world, and he will play a key role in the Trust's contribution to the development of new models of cancer care within the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Devolution Programme.

Since October 2013, Professor Harrison has been the executive medical director at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in London where he has been responsible for some of the largest and most complex medical services in the country. He was previously clinical director for cancer for NHS London and before that he had worked in the North West of England, including a period as medical director at The Christie.

The Christie's current executive medical director, Mr Tony Blower, will retire next month, having worked at the Trust for two years. He will return part time for a period, carrying out some duties as internal medical director. Tony was consultant general and colorectal surgeon at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust for 20 years, as well as being the former medical director of Greater Manchester and Cheshire Cancer Network.

Roger Spencer, Chief Executive of The Christie, said: "I am delighted that Professor Harrison will be moving to The Christie. He is a highly experienced clinician with a wealth of knowledge and skills who will play a vital role in helping us to achieve our ambition to be one of the top cancer centres in the world. His strategic leadership will be invaluable to The Christie as we seek to deliver world class research, education and clinical outcomes for our patients.

"Professor Harrison is a clinician with an exceptional track record in delivering world class cancer services and in developing integrated healthcare systems with large numbers of partner organisations."

"I also want to pay tribute to the dedication and achievements of Mr Tony Blower who will shortly be retiring. He has played a key role in the success of The Christie over several years."

Professor Harrison added: "I am very excited to be moving to The Christie at such an important time in its development as it aims to demonstrate that it is a world leading comprehensive cancer centre.

"We have the opportunity to improve cancer care particularly ensuring that patients are referred and diagnosed early - this will make a real difference to the way we care for patients and their families.

"The Christie has a very bright future and it will be a privilege to be involved in this exciting transformation.

"I have thoroughly enjoyed working at Imperial Healthcare which is one of the most complex groups of hospitals in the country. It is therefore with a great deal of sadness that I will be leaving many excellent colleagues and friends. However, the opportunity to work to improve cancer care in Manchester is one which I cannot miss. It will bring me back home to Manchester and to The Christie which I regard as the most exciting city and best hospital in the country."

The Christie is now one of Europe's leading cancer centres and the largest single-site centre in Europe treating approximately 44,000 patients each year. It has the largest chemotherapy unit in the UK, as well as delivering chemotherapy at 10 other sites, in a mobile chemotherapy unit and in patients' homes. The Christie also has one of the largest radiotherapy departments in the world as well as centres in Oldham and Salford and houses the UK's largest brachytherapy service.

Around 400 clinical trials may be taking place at any one time in The Christie's NIHR Clinical Research Facility, a large, high quality, dedicated clinical research environment where patients can participate in complex and early phase clinical trials.

In partnership with The University of Manchester and five other healthcare providers, The Christie is one of only six academic health science centres in the country.