Gillian Leng is NICE’s second CEO, having replaced founding chief Sir Andrew Dillon in April 2020. She joined NICE in 2001 and has held several roles at the organisation, including deputy chief.
Professor Leng said: “I will be very sad to leave but after the death of my husband [Paul Cosford] earlier in the year, it is the right time for me to consider a new life with different challenges.
“My fantastic colleagues at NICE have worked amazingly hard during the pandemic and I am extremely proud of them.
“I remain absolutely committed to NICE and to working with the board to confirm the time frame for my departure, and ensure a smooth transition to new leadership.”
NICE chair Sharmila Nebhrajani thanked Professor Leng on behalf of the board for her “long and committed service to NICE over two decades”.
She added: “I understand completely her decision and she will leave with the warmest of wishes for a successful retirement. From all of us and indeed from the whole health and care system.”
NICE said details on recruiting a successor will be provided in “due course”.
Dr Cosford, who was an emeritus medical director at Public Health England, died in April, having been diagnosed four years previously with lung cancer.
Professor Leng tweeted that he worked “tirelessly to support the pandemic response and will be missed by many, but especially me”.