Skip to main content

Please note: this event has passed

Emeritus Professor Sir Michael Rutter CBE FRS FRCP FRCPsych FMedSci sadly died on 23 October 2021. Eight months later family, friends and colleagues gathered to celebrate his life and work. As we approach the one year anniversary of his passing, we would like to reflect on his life and the beautiful memorial event which celebrated it.

Research is addictive — addictive because you find out what you didn’t know and what you may never even have imagined.

Professor Sir Michael Rutter

Known to many as ‘the father of child psychiatry’, Professor Sir Michael Rutter paved the way for developmental psychologists and psychiatrists around the world. His life-changing work, numerous scientific breakthroughs and clinical expertise have laid the foundations of child psychiatry and developmental psychopathology as we know it today.

Sir Michael was the recipient of numerous awards, including 21 honorary doctorates. He held the first UK Professorship in Child Psychiatry in 1973 and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1984, joining the most prestigious scientists in the UK and Commonwealth. Sir Michael was a founding fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, and received a knighthood in the 1992 New Year's Honours. In 2020, Sir Michael was awarded the Pardes Humanitarian Prize in Mental Health for ‘expanding our understanding of mental health in children’, a prestigious award which recognises those who have made a profound and lasting impact in improving the lives of people with mental illness.

Throughout his extraordinary career Sir Michael published upwards of 400 empirical articles and 40 books. He tirelessly advocated for the health and wellbeing of young people and transformed our understanding of child development, touching the lives of many through his clinical work and research.

One of the things in science is that you need to question your own findings, your own ideas, ruthlessly.

Professor Sir Michael Rutter

Celebrating the life and work of Professor Sir Michael Rutter 

On 27 June 2022, King's College London welcomed friends, family and colleagues from across the globe to share Sir Michael's impact on them, their work, and the field of child psychiatry.

This film was produced by David Martin from Impact Media.

Sir Michael's esteemed colleagues and friends travelled from around the world to attend the event.

Michael Rutter memorial - audience

We were delighted to be joined by Sir Michael's wife, Marjorie, and their family to share in this celebration.

Michael Rutter memorial - family

Professor Shitij Kapur, President and Principal of King's College London, gave the opening speech.

Michael Rutter memorial - Shitij Kapur opening speech

Guests were invited to share their memories of Sir Michael in the memorial book.

Pictured: Professor Sir Simon Wessely, Interim Executive Dean at the IoPPN, signs the memorial book.

Pictured: Professor Sir Simon Wessely, Interim Executive Dean at the IoPPN, signs the memorial book.

Ionica Adriana spoke about her experiences working with Sir Michael as a participant in the English and Romanian Adoptee (ERA) study, led by Sir Michael and Professor Edmund Sonuga-Barke.

The ERA study continues to provide valuable data for research, including the 2020 study on the impact of childhood deprivation on brain size in young adulthood, co-led by Professor Edmund Sonuga-Barke and Professor Mitul Mehta.

Michael Rutter memorial - ERA participant

From left to right: Professor Mitul Mehta, Ionica Adriana, Professor Edmund Sonuga-Barke. 

Sir Michael's 2018 #LetsTalkMentalHealth interview was presented during the event, which was attended by those involved in the production of the interview.

The #LetsTalkMentalHealth series was led by Professor Louise Arseneault to broadcast the expertise of leading figures in the field. Sir Michael was interviewed by Jack Welch, a vocal advocate for people with learning disabilities who spoke about his personal experiences with autism. The interview was filmed by David Martin, who also filmed the memorial event.

Michael Rutter memorial - Lets Talk MH

From left to right: Professor Louise Arseneault, David Martin, Jack Welch.

Acclaimed trombonist and vocalist Malcolm Earle Smith and his Quintet performed jazz standards associated with some of Michael Rutter's favourite artists.

These included Benny Goodman, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins and Bill Evans.

Michael Rutter memorial - jazz band

We are grateful to King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience; the Royal College of Psychiatrists; the Association of Child and Adolescent Mental Health (ACAMH); the Wellcome Trust; the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP); Coram; and Dame Stephanie Shirley CH for their contributions to this event.

Sir Michael's family are raising money for YoungMinds in his memory, where he had a long association including serving as its president. For further information please visit

At this event

Professor Michael Rutter

Emeritus Professor of Developmental Psychopathology