Hywel Williams was brought up in the hillside village of Cymmer Afan in South Wales, where he attended the local comprehensive schools. He trained in medicine at Charing Cross Hospital, London. After qualifying, Hywel did further medical and dermatology training in London at the Hammersmith Hospital, Charing Cross Hospital, Kingston Hospital and King's College Hospital. Whilst training in dermatology at Kings, he published an article in the Lancet about a dog detecting skin cancer and was the first to suggest the possibility of canine cancer detection. In 1994, he won a Wellcome Trust clinical epidemiology training fellowship and did an MSc in Clinical Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. This led to a PhD in developing diagnostic criteria for atopic eczema in 1994 when he worked at St John's Dermatology Centre, London. That year, Hywel was appointed as Senior Lecturer in Dermatology to the clinical dermatology department at Nottingham, and became Foundation Professor of Dermato-Epidemiology in April 1998. There, he founded the Centre of Evidence-Based Dermatology.
Hywel was awarded a silver merit award from the NHS in 2007 for his work into supporting NHS-related research, and in 2013, he was awarded a gold NHS distinction award. In 2008, he was awarded an NIHR senior investigator award in the first competition round, which has renewed for a further 5 years in 2012. .In 2013 and was awarded a higher doctorate (DSc) for his international research into the causes and treatment of eczema. In 2014, he was nominated to become a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. In July 2017, he was awarded the Sir Archibald Gray medal by the British Association of Dermatology. The Medal is the highest accolade for outstanding services to British dermatology. In 2017, he also became one of the first to become and NIHR Senior Investigator Emeritus. In 2021, Hywel was awarded an OBE for his services to medical research and higher education.
Outside of dermatology, Hywel was Director of Research and Development at Queen's Medical Centre NHS Trust from 1998 to 2001, and then became Director of the Nottingham unit of the Trent Institute for Health Services Research (TIHSR) from 2000 to 2004. Hywel chaired the National Research Development Support Unit Network from 2004 to 2006. He founded and then directed the University of Nottingham Clinical Trials Support Unit which has since led many major new NIHR trials and which is now fully registered with the UKCRC.
Hywel has also had a passion for research commissioning and he chaired the Research for Patient Benefit Programme for East Midlands from 2006 to 2009. Hywel was appointed Chair of the HTA Commissioning Board and became Deputy Director of the HTA Programme in January 2010. He was also national chair of the NIHR CCRN Dermatology Specialty Group (2008 to May 2014). In 2015, Hywel was appointed as the new Director of the NIHR Health Technology Assessment Programme in 2015 and stepped down from this national role in October 2020. Hywel then continued to work as a senior advisor to the Department of Health and Social Care on major NIHR contracts and on COVID research oversight including the Urgent Public Health, Prophylaxis and RAPID-19 programmes until October 2021.
Hywel's main research interests are evidence-based dermatology and the epidemiology and treatment of childhood eczema.
In terms of academic impact, Hywel has published over 640 peer-reviewed articles, including papers in Nature, the NEJM, Lancet and BMJ, and three books. He is the second most cited dermatology researcher in the world on Google Scholar (153,024 citations October 2023) with a H-index of 127 and i10-index of 484. His lifetime c-score up to 2022 (excluding self-citations) places him in the top 12% of the top 100,000 scientists worldwide, the most cited scientist in the Faculty of Medicine at Nottingham and the second most cited scientist in the University of Nottingham. The c-score (Ioannidis, John P.A. (2023), "October 2023 data-update for "Updated science-wide author databases of standardized citation indicators"", Elsevier Data Repository, V6, doi: 10.17632/btchxktzyw.6) focuses on impact (citations) rather than productivity (number of publications) and it also incorporates information on co-authorship and author positions (single, first, last author). Hywel is ranked #2 in the world for c-score in dermatology excluding self-citations, for all citations and for single recent year impact.
Hywel has raised over £12m in non-commercial externally funded research into health technology assessment in relation to skin disease in the last 10 years as lead applicant.
Hywel "retired and returned" in March 2022 and now works two whole days a week for the University .He continues to co-direct the Centre of Evidence-Based Dermatology with Professor Kim Thomas and remains passionate about genuine patient and public involvement in research.
Clinical trials; systematic reviews; epidemiology of atopic eczema, outcome measures.
Dermato-epidemiology;clinical trials in dermatology;systematic reviews in dermatology;atopic eczema, diagnostic criteria and outcomes measures.