Richard Sykes (biochemist)

Sir Richard Sykes, DSc, FRS, FMedSci, FKC (born 1942) is a biochemist and former executive in a number of pharmaceuticals, most notably GlaxoSmithKline.


He holds a degree from King's College London, and a Ph.D. in Microbial Biochemistry from the University of Bristol as well as number of honorary degrees, including ones from the universities of Birmingham, Brunel, Cranfield, Edinburgh, Hertfordshire, Huddersfield, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Madrid, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield Hallam, Sheffield, Strathclyde, Surrey, Warwick and Westminster.


Until 2001, Sykes was chairman of GlaxoSmithKline and president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. In 1994 he was knighted for his services to the pharmaceutical industry and in 1999 he was awarded the Singapore National Day Public Service Star Award for his services to the economy of Singapore. In December 2007 he was appointed Independent Non-Executive Director at Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation(ENRC).

Imperial College

Between January 2001 and July 2008, Sykes was the Rector of Imperial College, London.

In 2004 he spearheaded an abortive attempt to merge Imperial College with University College London.

He also controversially supported the lifting of the £3,000 cap on tuition fees and instead allowing the universities to set fees at anything up to £10,000, a proposal opposed by many student-representing societies.

In March 2006 his salary became the centre of attention amongst Imperial College staff and students after the students' union newspaper, FELIX, published a front page article highlighting how much he was paid. Sir Richard received a salary £305,000 a year, the second highest among university principals after Professor Laura Tyson, dean of the London Business School.

On July 1st, 2008, he was succeeded as Rector of Imperial College by Professor Roy Anderson.

Other activities

Sir Richard is chairman of the think-tank Reform. He is a trustee of the Natural History Museum (London) and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

In September 2008 he was appointed Chair of NHS London.

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