Trailblazer for mental health research at York receives Higher Doctorate in Science

News | Posted on Monday 30 January 2023

Professor Simon Gilbody was awarded a Higher Doctorate in Science by the University of York in the recent 2023 winter graduation ceremony.

The degree of Doctor of Science [DSc] represents the highest award for scholarship that can be made by the University and recognises sustained research and impact that is internationally regarded.

Simon joined Hull York Medical School and the University of York in 2005, soon after the Medical School was formed.  He established the Mental Health Research Group in York and was made foundation Professor of Psychological Medicine & Epidemiology in 2007. The University of York is now recognised as the leading centre for mental health research in the North of England.  Simon is a celebrated clinical epidemiologist and trialist in his field, and remains a practicing NHS psychiatrist.

Simon’s Higher Doctoral thesis summarised two decades of scholarship since the award of his PhD by the University of York in 2001.  His work addresses some the greatest challenges to the mental health of the population, including the epidemic of depression in older people and the ongoing impacts of COVID. The research portfolio that formed the basis of his DSc has been published in some of the world’s highest impact journals, including the Journal of the American Medical Association [JAMA], and the British Medical Journal [BMJ].  Together with his colleague, Professor Dean McMillan, Simon led the University’s response to the psychological impacts of the COVID pandemic. The results of his COVID-19 BASIL trials to tackle the epidemic of loneliness in older people are now entering the public domain.

Reflecting research career and speaking of his award, Simon said: "My nana would always point out to anyone in earshot that I am the first Gilbody to attend university in a thousand generations. To which I can now add that I am the first medically-qualified recipient of the DSc from the University of York.

"This is an immense honour and a great recognition of our mental health research programme by the University of York."

Congratulating Simon on his award, Professor Lina Gega, Director of the newly-established Institute of Mental Health Research at York [IMRY] said: "Simon is a trailblazer for mental health research at York and in the Medical School. IMRY builds on his work and his legacy. We are proud to call him our colleague."

Present at the January Graduation was Professor Una MacLeod, Dean of Hull York Medical School. She added "since its foundation, HYMS has placed mental health and epidemiology at the centre of its curriculum. This is reflected in Simon’s work and I am delighted to see him receive this prestigious award from the University of York."

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