Before joining the University, Alan Langlands was the Chief Executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (2009 to 2013). He was formerly the Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Dundee (2000 to 2009) and Chief Executive of the NHS in England (1994 to 2000). He has a particular interest in the scientific basis of health services, and from its inception in 2004 until 2012, he chaired the board of UK Biobank – a major genetic epidemiology study. He was also the chair of the board of the Health Foundation, a UK-wide charity committed to improving the quality of healthcare, until 2017. Alan was knighted in 1998 for his services to the NHS, he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and an Honorary Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.
He is a science graduate of the University of Glasgow and was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University in 2001. In addition, he has a number of honorary degrees from major universities and fellowships from five medical Royal Colleges.