Past President, Professor Sir Simon Wessely MA BM BCh MSc MD
FRCP FRCPsych FMedSci FKC
Sir Simon Wessely is Regius Professor of Psychiatry and
Co-Director, King’s Centre for Military Health Research and
Academic Department of Military Mental Health, Institute of
Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College
London. He is a clinical liaison psychiatrist, with a
particular interest in unexplained symptoms and syndromes. He
has responsibility for undergraduate and postgraduate psychiatry
training, and is particularly committed to sharing his enthusiasm
for clinical psychiatry with medical students. He also remains
research active, continuing to publish on many areas of psychiatry,
psychological treatments, epidemiology and military health.
Born and educated in Sheffield, he studied medical sciences and
history of art at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, and then finished his
medical training at University College Oxford, graduating in 1981.
He obtained his medical membership in Newcastle, before moving to
London’s Maudsley Hospital to train in psychiatry, where he
also obtained a Master’s and Doctorate in epidemiology. His
doctoral thesis was on crime and schizophrenia. Professor Wessely
has been a consultant liaison psychiatrist at King’s College
Hospital and the Maudsley Hospital since 1991, where he set up the
first NHS service for sufferers from chronic fatigue syndrome.
He became Director of the Chronic Fatigue Research Unit at
King’s in 1994 and of the Gulf War Illness Research Unit in 1996,
which then became the King’s Centre for Military Health Research, a
unique collaboration between the IoP and the KCL Department of War
Studies, in 2003. Its flagship project, a large-scale ongoing study
of the health and wellbeing of the UK Armed Forces, has had a
direct impact on public policy and on forms of treatment and help
for Service personnel. He is Civilian Consultant Advisor in
Psychiatry to the British Army in which capacity he has visited
services in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. He is a trustee of Combat
Stress, the principal UK charity for veterans with mental health
problems, and his contributions to veterans’ charities include
cycling (slowly) seven times to Paris to raise funds for service
personnel in need.
He established the first clinical trials unit in this country
dedicated to mental health, and is a Foundation Senior Investigator
of the National Institute for Health Research, and Fellow of the
Academy of Medical Sciences. In 2012 he was awarded the first
Nature “John Maddox Prize” for Standing Up for Science, and was
knighted in the 2013 New Year’s Honours
List. He was President of the Royal College of
Psychiatrists between 2014 and 2017.
Professor Wessely has over 750 original publications, with a
particular emphasis on the boundaries of medicine and psychiatry,
unexplained symptoms and syndromes, military health, population
reactions to adversity, epidemiology, history and other
fields. He has co authored a text book on chronic fatigue
syndrome, a history of military psychiatry and a book on randomised
controlled trials, although none are best sellers. He is
active in public engagement activities, speaking regularly on
radio, TV and at literary and science festivals as well as writing
columns for many national newspapers.
Professor Wessely is the first Psychiatrist to be elected
President of Royal Society of Medicine (RSM) and will be
inaugurated into the role in July 2017.