Peter Mathieson
Professor Peter Mathieson 2015.jpg
Professor Mathieson in Hong Kong (2015)
Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Edinburgh
Assumed office
1 February 2018
ChancellorHRH Princess Anne
Preceded bySir Timothy O'Shea
Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Hong Kong
In office
1 April 2014 – 31 January 2018
ChancellorLeung Chun-ying
Carrie Lam
Preceded byTsui Lap-chee
Succeeded byXiang Zhang
Personal details
Peter William Mathieson

(1959-04-18) 18 April 1959 (age 63)
Colchester, England
CitizenshipUnited Kingdom
Residence(s)Edinburgh, Scotland
Alma materLondon Hospital Medical College (MBBS)
Christ's College, Cambridge (PhD)

Peter William Mathieson FRCP FMedSci FRSE[1][2] (Chinese: 馬斐森; born 18 April 1959) is an English nephrologist and current principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Edinburgh.[3] Previously, he served as the vice-chancellor and president of the University of Hong Kong (HKU). He was the dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry of the University of Bristol before he assumed office at the HKU in April 2014, and was previously director of studies at Christ's College, Cambridge.[4]


Mathieson went to school in Penzance, Cornwall. He studied medicine at London Hospital Medical College and earned Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery with first class honours awarded from University of London in 1983. After junior posts in and around the West End of London, he went to Christ's College, Cambridge as a Medical Research Council (MRC) training fellow, studying for a PhD which was awarded in 1992.[5] His thesis was titled "Role of T lymphocytes in autoimmune responses".[6] While studying for his PhD, Mathieson also taught at Cambridge and was named 'Teacher of the Year' in 1992 by the university's medical students.[7] Mathieson was awarded a second MRC fellowship during which he worked on complement/immunology with Douglas Fearon and Peter Lachmann.[8] He was also Director of Studies for Clinical Medicine at Christ's College, Cambridge.[9]


University of Bristol

Mathieson joined the University of Bristol in 1995 as the foundation professor of renal medicine. He was also honorary consultant nephrologist with the North Bristol NHS Trust.[5] In 1999 he was elected as a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, United Kingdom.[10] While at the University of Bristol, Mathieson ran 'The cellular basis of albuminuria' research project, with £585,000 funding from the MRC from 2005 to 2008. The project aimed to 'develop ways of detecting and treating early kidney and heart disease'.[11] In 2007 he was elected as the youngest ever president of the Renal Association and also became head of the University Department of Clinical Science at North Bristol. He was also appointed as director of research & development for the North Bristol NHS Trust.[5] Between 2003 and 2007 he chaired the Research Grants Committee of Kidney Research UK [formerly National Kidney Research Fund]. He was a member of the Renal Association Clinical Trials committee from 1996 to 2007 and its chairman between 2000 and 2003.[12] In 2008 he was appointed dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Bristol.[5]

He was appointed Dean of the university's Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry in 2008.[5] Foundation doctors at University Hospitals Bristol voted Mathieson as 'Top Teacher' for 2011–12.[13] A further MRC-funded research project on treatment of patients with membranous nephropathy (a type of kidney disease) found a treatment which mitigated against deterioration;[14] the results were published in The Lancet.[15]

University of Hong Kong

In October 2013, Mathieson was appointed vice chancellor of the University of Hong Kong, replacing Lap-Chee Tsui. His appointment was controversial as some staff felt that Mathieson lacked management experience and familiarity with Chinese society.[16][17] Leong Che-hung, who headed the committee that appointed Mathieson noted that he had experience running a faculty at the University of Bristol,[18] while Mathieson himself suggested his unfamiliarity with China gave the opportunity for a fresh start.[17]

Mathieson meeting students protesting the HKU council's refusal to appoint of Johannes Chan as pro-vice-chancellor. Mathieson supported the appointment.
Mathieson meeting students protesting the HKU council's refusal to appoint of Johannes Chan as pro-vice-chancellor. Mathieson supported the appointment.

His tenure at HKU was described to be full of "tension and clashes between the university's governing body and students".[19] Five months into his vice-chancellorship, a students-led class boycott, protesting against Beijing authorities' decision of Hong Kong's suffrage, evolved into a 79-day occupy protest.[19] During the crisis, he stated that independence was not a realistic political option for Hong Kong, but defended the rights of students to protest in favour of Hong Kong's democratic values.[20]

See also: University of Hong Kong pro-vice-chancellor selection controversy

In 2015, Mathieson was elected as an honorary fellow of Hughes Hall, University of Cambridge.[21] That year, a University of Hong Kong panel led by Mathieson selected Johannes Chan as pro-vice-chancellor, however the appointment was blocked by the university's governing council.[22] Chan is pro-democracy, supports human rights, and had supported the student occupy protest in 2014, and was unpopular with the government. The episode was viewed as an incident in which the university's academic freedom was under threat, and Mathieson's authority suffered as a result; in a staff survey, 78% of people did not feel Mathieson had "effectively protected academic freedom".[23][24] Addressing the results of the survey, Mathieson acknowledged the unpopularity of some of his actions and questioned the survey's methodology.[25]

On 2 February 2017, two years before the original expiry of his contract, Mathieson resigned from the post of HKU.[19] Mathieson claimed that he was squeezed out of the position by HKU's Chairman of the Governing Council, Arthur Li.[26] The Chairman of the Staff Association, William Cheung, stated "you may now appreciate why we thank you [University of Edinburgh] so many times for taking Professor Mathieson on board" after claims that Mathieson failed to uphold academic freedom, discouraged debate on campus, and did not understand the needs of students emerged from a staff survey.[27] Addressing the results of the survey, Mathieson described the survey as flawed in its methodology.[25]

University of Edinburgh

Mathieson became Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh in February 2018.[5] He will be the highest paid figure in Scottish Higher Education with a benefits package exceeding £400,000. While the university said the salary was set in relation to vice chancellor pay at similar sized universities, it was criticised by the University and College Union during the UK-wide dispute between university staff and management over pensions.[28] The £342,000 salary is less than Mathieson was paid at HKU.[25] He has lectured to undergraduate medical students on his specialism in kidney disease at Edinburgh.[25][29]


According to Mathieson's profile on the University of Bristol website:

[Mathieson's] major clinical interest is in autoimmune renal diseases, such as glomerulonephritis, systemic vasculitis, systemic lupus erythematosus. His research interests are in human glomerular cell biology and regulation of glomerular permeability, and he leads the group in the Academic Renal Unit that in recent years has made significant contributions to the study of podocytes and glomerular endothelial cells, interactions between them and factors in the causation and treatment of proteinuria. The work of the group has attracted major research grant funding of about £5 million from sources including Medical Research Council, Wellcome Trust and Kidney Research UK.[12]


  1. ^ "Officers of the University".
  2. ^ "New Fellows for the Royal Society of Edinburgh".
  3. ^ "Appointment of next Principal and Vice-Chancellor". University of Edinburgh. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  4. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 November 2013. Retrieved 18 September 2015.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ a b c d e f "The Principal". The University of Edinburgh. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  6. ^ Role of T lymphocytes in autoimmune responses, British Library, retrieved 8 October 2018
  7. ^ "Professor Peter Mathieson Appointed HKU's 15th Vice-Chancellor" (PDF), The University of Hong Kong Bulletin, The University of Hong Kong, vol. 15, no. 1, p. 1, December 2013
  8. ^ Professor Peter Mathieson, University of Bristol, retrieved 9 October 2018
  9. ^ Who we represent, Universities Scotland, retrieved 9 October 2018
  10. ^ Fellow: Professor Peter Mathieson FMedSci, The Academy of Medical Sciences, retrieved 9 October 2018
  11. ^ The cellular basis of albuminuria, UK Research and Innovation, retrieved 10 October 2018
  12. ^ a b Bristol, University of. "Professor Peter Mathieson - School of Clinical Sciences". Retrieved 8 October 2018.
  13. ^ New Principal starts tenure by teaching, University of Edinburgh, 3 April 2018, retrieved 9 October 2018
  14. ^ "The battle against kidney disease" (PDF), Review of the year 2012-2013, University of Bristol, p. 13, 2013, retrieved 10 October 2018
  15. ^ Howman, Andrew; Chapman, Tracey L.; Langdon, Maria M.; Ferguson, Caroline; Adu, Dwomoa; Feehally, John; Gaskin, Gillian J.; Jayne, David R.W.; O'Donoghue, Donal; Boulton-Jones, Michael; Mathieson, Peter W. (March 2013), "Immunosuppression for progressive membranous nephropathy: a UK randomised controlled trial", The Lancet, 381 (9868), doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61566-9, PMC 3590447
  16. ^ Cheung, Tony (2 October 2013), "Doubts about expat tipped to be HKU head", South China Morning Post, retrieved 10 October 2018
  17. ^ a b Cheung, Tony (4 October 2013), Peter Mathieson confirmed as new head of HKU, South China Morning Post, retrieved 10 October 2018
  18. ^ "Journalism professor questions choice of Briton as HKU head", South China Morning Post, 4 October 2013, retrieved 10 October 2018
  19. ^ a b c "University of Hong Kong chief Peter Mathieson resigns, set to take up post in Scotland". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 2 February 2017.
  20. ^ "Universities warned about 'independence' discussions".
  21. ^ "Elections" (PDF), Cambridge University Reporter, vol. 145, no. 26, 16 April 2015
  22. ^ "University of Hong Kong picks Berkeley scientist as next v-c", Times Higher Education, 15 December 2017, retrieved 10 October 2018
  23. ^ Ewing, Kent (15 January 2018), "Maligned, befuddled and misunderstood: HKU's Peter Mathieson exits just how he entered", Hong Kong Free Press, retrieved 11 October 2018
  24. ^ Haas, Benjamin (8 January 2018), "Edinburgh University's new vice-chancellor condemned in staff survey", The Guardian, retrieved 11 October 2018
  25. ^ a b c d "Exclusive: Peter Mathieson's first face-to-face interview as University of Edinburgh principal". The Student Newspaper. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
  26. ^ "Let's bid good riddance to Peter Mathieson". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  27. ^ "Edinburgh University's new vice-chancellor condemned in staff survey". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  28. ^ "Edinburgh University principal to get 33% pay hike". The Scotsman. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  29. ^ New Principal starts tenure by teaching, University of Edinburgh, 3 April 2018, retrieved 11 October 2018
Academic offices Preceded bySir Timothy O'Shea Principal of the University of Edinburgh 2018 – present Incumbent Preceded byTsui Lap-chee Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Hong Kong 2014 – 2017 Succeeded byXiang Zhang