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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

President's Lectures

Find out about College President Wendy Burn's upcoming lectures or read about past President Lectures you may have missed.

Next Lecture

‘Becoming human: an idiosyncratic guide to 1,000 million years of the evolution of consciousness’ by Dr Derek Tracy

Date: 23 October 2018

Lecture synopsis

Dr Tracy’s talk will track 1,000 million years of the evolution of nervous systems in a single hour, taking an idiosyncratic approach to how our brains developed, what made us human, and how that links in with psychopathology. We will leap from basic multicellular organisms with primitive sensory responses, through primal drivers of appetite and sex, to look at the emergence of emotion and memory in the brain. The talk will consider how humans differed from other hominids, especially Neanderthal, and what that tells us about who we are today, and our unique abilities, particularly at mentalisation.

The talk will ask what other forms of consciousness might exist, and whether we could even recognise them if they do. The aim is to take a fun approach to what can be a complex area, and it will be light-hearted rather than detailed.


About the speaker

Dr Derek TracyDr Derek Tracy is a Consultant Psychiatrist and Clinical Director at Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, London. His managerial work includes implementing a novel integrated service that has joined physical and mental health with social care into a single organisation covering a London Borough – ‘Bexleycare’.

He is a Senior Lecturer at King’s College London and University College London, running three MSc modules. In 2015 he was awarded the IoPPN’s Teaching Excellence Award, and in 2018 the IOPPN’s students’ award for funniest lecturer. Derek has published over 65 peer review papers and seven book chapters, most on psychopharmacology and psychosis. He is a member of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs that provides expert scientific advice to the UK Home Office.

Derek is a board member of the British Journal of Psychiatry, writing its Kaleidoscope and Highlights columns and leading its social media arm; he also an elected member of the College academic faculty. He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management, the Royal Society of Arts, and the Royal College of Psychiatrists. He likes running, the Stone Roses, and enthusiastic people; he hates butter, cats, and whinging.


How to book

To reserve your place, please email Thomas Kennedy at by Monday 22 October 2018.

Please note

There is a charge of £5 per place to attend this lecture, payable on the evening. Places are limited for this event and will be allocated on a strictly first-come-first-served basis.



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