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06 May 2021

Professor Sir Simon Wessely elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society

Professor Sir Simon Wessely from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), has been elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society, a Fellowship of many of the world's most eminent scientists and the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence.


Each year up to 52 Fellows and up to 10 Foreign Members are elected from a group of around 800 candidates who are proposed by the existing Fellowship, in recognition of their exceptional contributions to science, engineering and medicine.

Professor Sir Simon Wessely is a leading academic psychiatrist, appointed to the first ever Regius Chair of Psychiatry in the country. He is renowned for his work changing our understanding of medically unexplained symptoms, and how we manage psychological trauma. Much of what we know about the health and wellbeing of our Armed Forces past and present also comes from his work. He has a particular skill in ensuring that his research impacts on policy and services in any areas and was a highly successful President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, asked by the Prime Minister to lead a critically important review of our mental health legislation and linked services, which is now being implemented. He is one of the most recognised media voices on mental health and was the first recipient of the John Maddox Prize awarded by Nature for "Standing up for Science".

It’s a cliché to say one is “surprised and delighted”, but just because something is a cliché doesn’t mean it is not true. Because that is how I feel. It is an unbelievable honour to join the ranks of Fellows of the Royal Society, and I am afraid that there is no alternative but to resort to another cliché, which is to thank all my colleagues and collaborators over a very happy 30 years at King’s College London, and without whom this would never have happened. The drinks are going to be on me for quite some time to come.

Professor Sir Simon Wessely

Sir Adrian Smith, President of the Royal Society, said: “This is the first year of my presidency at the Royal Society and I’ve been very much looking forward to welcoming the newly elected Fellows and Foreign Members.

“The global pandemic has demonstrated the continuing importance of scientific thinking and collaboration across borders. Each Fellow and Foreign Member bring their area of scientific expertise to the Royal Society and when combined, this expertise supports the use of science for the benefit of humanity.

“Our new Fellows and Foreign Members are all at the forefronts of their fields from molecular genetics and cancer research to tropical open ecosystems and radar technology. It is an absolute pleasure and honour to have them join us.”

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Simon Wessely

Regius Professor of Psychiatry