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Professor Sir Michael Rutter CBE FRS FRCP FRCPsych, 1933 - 2021
Professor Michael Rutter

Professor Sir Michael Rutter CBE FRS FRCP FRCPsych, 1933 - 2021

Emeritus Professor of Developmental Psychopathology

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Emeritus Professor Sir Michael Rutter was regarded as the ‘father of Child Psychiatry’, paving the way for numerous developmental psychologists and psychiatrists around the world. He was credited with many breakthroughs within his field and his career laid the foundations of Child Psychiatry and Developmental Psychopathology.

His world-renowned work included his early epidemiological ‘Isle of Wight’ and ‘Inner London’ studies; and the ground-breaking English and Romanian Adoptee study showing how deprivation in early life affects child development, attachment, and the formation of new relationships.

Emeritus Professor Sir Michael Rutter trained in medicine at the University of Birmingham, England, with post-graduate training in neurology and paediatrics. He trained in psychiatry at the Maudsley Hospital and started working at the (then) Institute of Psychiatry (IoP) in 1966.

In 1973, he was awarded the first UK Professorship in Child Psychiatry. He went on to become Head of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and was awarded a professorship in Developmental Psychopathology in 1998.

The Michael Rutter Centre for Children and Adolescents was set up at Maudsley Hospital, where Sir Michael was a consultant psychiatrist. The Centre developed an international reputation for providing services and specialist treatments for young people with mental health difficulties.

In 1984, the Medical Research Council set up the MRC Child Psychiatry Research Unit, with Sir Michael appointed as its Director. When the Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry (SGDP) Centre was set up in 1994 as a partnership between IoP and the MRC, Sir Michael was appointed as its first director.

He published upwards of 400 empirical articles and 40 books, many of which have had a lasting impact on the understanding of child development. In 1993 he published his seminal book ‘Developing Minds’ that he wrote with his wife Marjorie and which charted a comprehensive and vivid map of human growth from cradle to grave. They argued that there are discontinuities as well as continuities to the growth process and trace how basic aspects of psychological functioning (such as emotion and cognition) change over the course of life.

Sir Michael has been the recipient of numerous awards and positions including 21 honorary doctorates. He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1984. He was knighted in 1992 for his contributions to the field of Child Psychiatry. In 2004, Sir Michael was awarded the Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology Distinguished Career Award by the American Psychological Association for his major contributions to public policy and scientific practice. In 2020, he recieved 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.

He also held positions as the Deputy Chairman of the Wellcome Trust, Trustee of the Nuffield Foundation, Founding Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and Academia Europaea, and President of YoungMinds, the UK’s leading charity for young people’s mental health.

Sir Michael retired from the Institute in 2021 after 55 years.

To celebrate this extraordinary career, some of Sir Michael’s colleagues, collaborators, and friends shared their experiences of working with Sir Michael in the following short video:


For a longer look over Professor Sir Michael Rutter’s career, please see links below:


Recent publications:

Do natural experiments have an important future in the study of mental disorders? May 2019

A new look at the supposed risks of early institutional rearing January 2018

HPA axis dysregulation in adult adoptees twenty years after severe institutional deprivation in childhood December 2017

Adult disinhibited social engagement in adoptees exposed to extreme institutional deprivation: examination of its clinical status and functional impact November 2017

Child-to-adult neurodevelopmental and mental health trajectories after early life deprivation: the young adult follow-up of the longitudinal English and Romanian Adoptees study April 2017

Neurodevelopmental disorders April 2017

Smoking in Pregnancy and Child ADHD February 2017

Why is the topic of the biological embedding of experiences important for translation? November 2016

Severe psychosocial deprivation in early childhood is associated with hyper-methylation across a region spanning the transcription start-site of CYP2E1 7 June 2016

Early severe institutional deprivation is associated with a persistent variant of adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: clinical presentation, developmental continuities and life circumstances in the English and Romanian Adoptees study 6 June 2016

Heritability of autism spectrum disorders: a meta-analysis of twin studies 27 December 2015

The risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children exposed to maternal smoking during pregnancy - a re-examination using a sibling design 28 October 2015

Annual Research Review: Threats to the validity of child psychiatry and psychology 19 September 2015

Vulnerability and resilience after early institutional care: The Greek Metera study August 2015

Psychological consequences of early global deprivation: An overview of findings from the English and Romanian Adoptees Study 30 June 2015

Attachment relationships of adolescents who spent their infancy in residential group care: The Greek Metera study 10 Apr 2015

Some of the complexities involved in gene-environment interplay 8 April 2015

Age of onset and the subclassification of conduct/dissocial disorder 31 October 2014

Outcomes in adult life among siblings of individuals with autism 5 September 2014

The cognitive development and school achievement of adopted adolescents: The Greek Metera study 7 Jul 2014