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 amd founded the Centre of Evidence-Based Dermatology. In 2013, Hywel 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 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 recently won 5 major new NIHR trials and registration from the UKCRC. Hywel also undertakes research commissioning and chaired the Research for Patient Benefit Programme for East Midlands from 2006 to 2009. Hywel was appointed Chair of the HTA Commissioning Board and 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 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 Urgent Public Health, Prophylaxis and RAPID-19 until October 2021.
Hywel's main interests are evidence-based dermatology and the epidemiology and treatment of childhood eczema. Hywel has published over 550 peer-reviewed articles, including papers in Nature, the NEJM, Lancet and BMJ, and three books. He is the most cited dermatology researcher in the world on Google Scholar (137,000 citations September 2021) and H-index of 142 and i10-index of 717 and the most cited from the Faculty of Medicine at Nottingham. He has raised over £10m in non-commercial externally funded research into health technology assessment in relation to skin disease in the last 10 years as lead applicant. He now works at 0.7FTE and continues working as an honorary consultant paediatric dermatologist at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.
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 2017, he became one of the first to become and NIHR Senior Investigator Emeritus.
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.