Professor John Geddes has been appointed as WA Handley Professor of Psychiatry; he will take up the post in November, when he will become a Fellow of Merton College. The first Chair of Psychiatry in the University’s Department of Psychiatry, founded in 1969, was endowed through a donation from the WA Handley Trust, established by the man who created ‘Domestos’, now a leading brand of household bleach in the UK. The Chair is formally attached to Merton, and the College is represented on the election panel.
Professor Geddes, currently Head of the Department of Psychiatry, said:
"It’s a true honour to be appointed to a statutory chair at Oxford University. Even in normal times Oxford is an astonishing place and I am simply awestruck by what this place has done in the battle against the virus. The WA Handley Chair will help me ensure that we learn from this to bring the same urgency, widespread collaboration and intellectual inspiration to bear on mental health."
The Department of Psychiatry and Merton held a rigorous search and selection process for this prestigious clinical academic post. The position provides an unparalleled opportunity to develop and sustain a large-scale research programme, supported by the world-leading clinical research infrastructure in Oxford. Mental health research is a priority for the University of Oxford, which is working closely with Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust through the NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre. Previous holders of the post include Professor Michael Gelder (1929-2018), who founded the University's Department of Psychiatry, and Professor Guy Goodwin.
Professor Irene Tracey, Warden of Merton College and former Head of Clinical Neurosciences at Oxford, said:
"I am thrilled at John’s appointment and what it means for Merton College and the wider University. He is a clinical academic of outstanding integrity, excellence, vision and leadership. John is universally admired for what he has achieved to date in tackling mental health as a scientist, clinician and department head. He is a truly deserving recipient of the WA Handley Chair and will bring distinction to it, like his predecessors. We look forward to welcoming him to College and working to support him and his vitally important research."