How can we get the media to tell the truth about drugs?
Posted: 07 Dec 2011
Professor David Nutt (Imperial College London) delivers the 2011 Monica Fooks Memorial Lecture. The Monica Fooks Memorial Lecture was established in 2002 at Somerville College, in memory of Monica, the daughter and sister, respectively, of Jean and Carolyn Fooks, who were both students at Somerville. Monica studied at Edinburgh University and developed bipolar disorder, which led to her taking her own life in September 1994 at the age of 26. Monica's parents, Geoffrey and Jean Fooks, gave Somerville the funds to set up the lectureship, with the specific aim of improving public awareness of mental illness and to encourage medical students to take more interest in bipolar disorder, in particular. Dame Fiona Caldicott, former Principal of Somerville and a previous President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (the first woman to hold that office), suggested the lecture as a way to achieve better public understanding and stimulate research into the illness. Previous speakers have included; Professor Keith Hawton, Director of the Centre for Suicide Research in Oxford, Professor Kay Redfield Jameson, acknowledged as the world expert on the illness, Dr Mike Shooter, former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Professor John Geddes, Professor of Epidemiological Psychiatry and Professor David Miklowitz, Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Colorado. Professor Nutt is currently the Edmund J Safra Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology and director of the Neuropsychopharmacology Unit in the Division of Experimental Medicine at Imperial College London. He received his undergraduate training in medicine at Cambridge and Guy's Hospital, and continued training in neurology to MRCP. After completing his psychiatric training in Oxford, he continued there as a lecturer and then later as a Wellcome Senior Fellow in psychiatry. He then spent two years as Chief of the Section of Clinical Science in the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in NIH, Bethesda, USA. On returning to England in 1988 he set up the Psychopharmacology Unit at Bristol University, an interdisciplinary research grouping spanning the departments of Psychiatry and Pharmacology before moving to Imperial College London in December 2008 where he leads a similar group with a particular focus on brain imaging especially PET. He broadcasts widely to the general public both on radio and television including the recent BBC Horizon programme about drug harms and their classification. He also lecturers widely to the public as well as to the scientific and medical communities; for instance he has presented three time at the Cheltenham Science Festival and several times for Café Scientifiques. In 2010 he was listed as one of the 100 most important figures in British Science by The Times Eureka science magazine.