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11 September 2020

Professor Malcolm Lader OBE 1936-2020

Tribute to Emeritus Professor Malcolm Lader OBE, who passed away on August 7th 2020 after a short illness.

Professor Malcolm Lader
Professor Malcolm Lader

Emeritus Professor Malcolm Lader OBE began his career as an MRC scientist at the (then) Institute of Psychiatry in the early 1960s, and he remained at the Maudsley Hospital and Institute of Psychiatry for his working life. He was appointed Professor of Clinical Psychopharmacology in 1978. He is best known for his studies on the dependence and abuse of benzodiazepines, which had a major impact upon the extent of their use as prescription medicines. With leadership from the late Professor Griffith Edwards and collaborating with the late Professor Mike Russell and (then Dr) John Strang, Professor Lader was active in the concept and the birth of the National Addiction Centre and the opening of the Addiction Sciences Building in 1991. 

Professor Malcolm Lader was a pioneering figure in psychiatry and psychopharmacology. As a scientist and teacher of the highest calibre his contribution to the field was immense and resonates to this day. His work on the adverse effects of medication was exemplary and will continue to guide clinicians for years to come. Much of what we do today follows a path set by him

Professor Allan Young, IoPPN Vice Dean (Academic Psychiatry)
At the opening of the Addiction Sciences Building 1991 (L-R Mike Russell, John Strang, Malcolm Lader, HRH The Princess Royal, Griffith Edwards)
At the opening of the Addiction Sciences Building 1991 (L-R Mike Russell, John Strang, Malcolm Lader, HRH The Princess Royal, Griffith Edwards)

His main research interest concerned the drugs used in psychiatry, and in particular their side effects. Professor Lader contributed widely to his science of psychopharmacology, with almost 1000 papers, 20 authored and 50 edited books. He made especially notable contributions to the use of psychophysiological measures in investigations of anxiety and the effects of medications.

Malcolm Lader was not only a highly influential leader in his field but was also an extraordinarily gifted and generous colleague, who was always willing to lend support and give time to discuss challenges and opportunities. I know this from personal experience, for which I will always be grateful to Malcolm, and this is also evident from looking at the large number of leading colleagues whose personal careers were influenced by Malcolm’s guidance and support. In addition to his leading status, Professor Lader was also an eternal student, and he never ceased to amaze with descriptions of the next educational venture on which he was embarking. We are grateful for the rich contribution that Professor Lader has made, and profoundly sad that he is no longer with us in person

Professor Sir John Strang, Head of Department, National Addiction Centre

Initially attending medical school at his hometown university in Liverpool, over his career Professor Lader trained in physiology with biochemistry, medicine, pharmacology and psychiatry, receiving formal qualifications in each of these disciplines. He was a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and of the prestigious Academy of Medical Sciences, and served as Vice-president of the International College of Psychopharmacology, President of the Society for the Study of Addiction, and President of the British Association for Psychopharmacology. From 1981 to 2001, he was a member of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, and chair of the Technical Committee from 1983 to 2000. He was one of the founding editors of the journal Biological Psychology. In 1996, he was awarded an OBE.

Malcolm Lader's enormous impact across his long and esteemed career was felt not just in his field, where his work has been of such great benefit, but in his generosity and kindness to his colleagues and collaborators. We were gifted to have him at the IoPPN and the Maudsley for most of his professional life

Professor Ian Everall, IoPPN Executive Dean

An illuminating 2005 interview with Professor Lader can be found here, where he discusses his experiences over his long career in the field of addiction studies.

The thoughts and deepest sympathies of the IoPPN community are with Professor Lader’s family, work colleagues and friends.