Professor John Geddes, Director of Research at Oxford Health and Director of the Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre, has been appointed to the WA Handley Professorship of Psychiatry and will take up this post in November 2021. He will be a fellow of Merton College. A donation from the WA Handley Trust endowed the first Chair of Psychiatry in the University of Oxford’s Department of Psychiatry, which was founded in 1969.

Professor John Geddes, Head of 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 College, one of the oldest colleges in Oxford with a strong commitment to excellence in research and teaching, 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.

Previous post holders include the late Professor Michael Gelder, the founder of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford, and Professor Guy Goodwin.

Professor Kia Nobre, Head of Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, said,

‘From all the illustrious candidates, John clearly stood out for his scientific excellence and commitment to improving mental health research and care locally, nationally, and globally. We have all benefited from his transformative leadership – enabling, diversifying, and uniting us – and we have learned that one thing is certain: It is never more of the same with John!’

Professor Irene Tracey, Warden of Merton College and former Head of Clinical Neurosciences, University of 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.’