Professor Rachel Upthegrove appointed Director Designate of the Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre

Professor Upthegrove will officially start in August 2024, succeeding Professor John Geddes, who has led the Oxford Health BRC since 2017 and will step down by the end 2024.

Professor Rachel Upthegrove appointed Director Designate of the Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre

We are delighted to announce that Professor Rachel Upthegrove has been appointed as the new director designate and Senior Clinical Researcher of the Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre (OH BRC) based at the University of Oxford’s Department of Psychiatry. She will officially start in August 2024, succeeding Professor John Geddes, who has led the BRC since 2017 and will step down by the end 2024.

Rachel is currently Professor of Psychiatry and Youth Mental Health at the University of Birmingham, and Consultant Psychiatrist in the Birmingham Early Intervention Services. Her research programme focuses on developing new treatments for psychosis using inflammatory biomarkers and machine learning to identify novel targets. Rachel is also very committed to Patient and Public Involvement Engagement and Participation (PPIEP) and has been involved in set up of youth PPIEP groups in Birmingham.

Rachel has been the chair of the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Mental Health Translational Research Collaboration (MH TRC) since May 2023 which manages the delivery of phase 1 of the  NIHR and Office for Life Science (OLS) Mental Health Mission (MHM) as one of the components of its strategic remit. The OH BRC hosts both the MH TRC and the MHM.

As the director designate of the OH BRC, Professor Upthegrove will initially work with Professor Geddes to oversee the strategic direction and delivery of the BRC’s current research programmes which are focused on developing a national network of centres of excellence to deliver high quality experimental medicine research focused on new treatments and procedures to improve mental health conditions and more broadly, patients’ lives.

On assuming the Director role, she will lead on shaping the strategy for the second half of the current funding period and the discussions connected with preparations for future funding. This will focus on translation of research findings into clinical practice and policy and enhancing the engagement and involvement of patients and the public in research.

Rachel will be a key member of the OH BRC steering committee and will work with the committee to ensure the BRC meets its agreed objectives.

Rachel Upthegrove

Professor Rachel Upthegrove

Professor Upthegrove said: “This role and the opportunity to build on Professor Geddes and the OH BRC team’s accomplishments is very exciting. The OH BRC is a remarkable collaboration between the University of Oxford, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and thirteen additional partner university and NHS Trusts across England, including Birmingham. The OH BRC, now in its second five-year funding cycle, is an outstanding centre for brain and mental health research in the UK and worldwide. It has made considerable progress in creating therapies and treatments for mental ill health and translating them to patient care in the last seven years.

“I am delighted to join the Department of Psychiatry at Oxford University, which is one of the fastest growing, forward-looking departments in the world, with vast opportunities to complete meaningful and cutting edge research.

“I look forward to working with our outstanding researchers, clinicians, patients and partners to improve the understanding and delivery of brain and mental health care to patients across the NHS and beyond.”

Professor John Geddes said: “Leading the OH BRC for the last seven years has been an honour. I am incredibly pleased with what we have achieved together and the difference we have made to brain and mental health research and care. I am sure that Professor Upthegrove will do a fantastic job as the next leader and elevate the OH BRC to new levels. I wish her and the team continued success for the future.”

Professor Belinda Lennox, Head of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford, said: “I am delighted to welcome Professor Upthegrove to the Department of Psychiatry. She is an internationally recognised clinical academic and brings considerable skills and experience to this key leadership role in the department and the OH BRC. We look forward to working with her to build on our world-leading research aiming to make a real difference to the lives of people with mental illness.”

Professor Rachel Upthegrove will officially take up her role as the director designate of the Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre based in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford in August 2024.

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Published: 14 March 2024