THE University of Southampton has appointed a former student of King Alfred College, Winchester, Professor Don Nutbeam as its next vice-chancellor.

Professor Nutbeam, 53, a world expert in public health, is currently academic provost at the University of Sydney.

A Southampton alumnus, his new position will see him return to lead the university where he completed his post graduate education in the 1980s.

He takes over as vice-chancellor when Professor Bill Wakeham retires in September 2009.

Prof Nutbeam's career has involved senior positions in universities, government, health services and an independent research institute. Between 2000 and 2003 he was Head of Public Health in the UK's Department of Health, leading policy development within the Department and across government on a range of public health challenges.

He holds dual British and Australian nationality and is married with two children.

His research career, which spans 30 years, has included public health intervention research in schools and communities, as well as studies of health literacy and adolescent health behaviour.

More recently, he has combined his academic and policy experience to examine the uses of evidence in policy-making.

Professor Nutbeam is the author of over 100 publications in peer-reviewed journals and has written two popular public health text books.

He has also worked as an advisor and consultant for the World Health Organisation over a 20-year period and as consultant and team leader in projects for the World Bank.