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Spotlight on: the Leadership Award

The AHRC and Wellcome Trust’s Health Humanities Medal is deigned to celebrate the contribution of the arts and humanities to improving healthcare, health and wellbeing.

Those researchers listed below have all been shortlisted for the ‘Leadership Award’ for demonstrating leadership within the realm of health humanities, this could be through leading the subject within an institution or across institutions, or someone who has helped to engage policymakers or hard to reach community groups (to name but a few examples).

All of the nominees demonstrate the rich, creative work now being done in this area across the UK.

Professor Helen Chatterjee, University College London

Professor Helen Chatterjee
Professor Helen Chatterjee, University College, London


In 2008 Helen was awarded the first ever research grant to investigate the impact of a museum intervention on psychosocial health. This research established a new field of interdisciplinary research focused on museums and health, and received a Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) Award for Research Excellence.

Helen’s key strength is developing partnerships with national, regional and local museums, third sector, health and social care organisations, alongside the use of mixed (quantitative and qualitative) methods, including co-produced research, to understand the value of museums as important community assets in supporting public health.

Helen’s research has resulted in over 50 publications, over 100 lectures, keynotes and public talks across the world, and three books, including the only text on this topic, the now widely cited Museums, Health and Wellbeing (Routledge 2013). Her research is cited 16 times in the All Party Parliamentary Group for Arts and Health’s 2017 Inquiry Report ‘Creative Health’.

In 2015, Helen secured funding from Arts Council England to establish the National Alliance for Museums, Health and Wellbeing. She is an advisor to the APPG for Arts and Health and was awarded an MBE for Services to Higher Education and Culture.

Professor Mark Jackson, University of Exeter

Professor Mark Jackson
Professor Mark Jackson, University of Exeter

Mark has worked in the medical humanities for over three decades researching the history of medicine - including studies of allergies, asthma, stress, and health across the life course. Mark has taught modules in the history of medicine, the history of civilisation and disease, and the history and philosophy of science at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and is committed to teaching the history of science and medicine to GCSE, A level and medical students, as well as promoting wider public, professional and policy engagement with research.

Examples of Mark’s leadership encompasses: world-leading research; outstanding supervision and academic mentoring; dynamic leadership of the Centre for Medical History at Exeter since 2003; creative public engagement; and national and international impacts on healthcare practice and policy. Mark chairs the WHO Europe External Advisory Group on the Cultural Contexts of Health and is a member of the European Advisory Committee on Health Research.

In 2017, he led a successful bid to establish a Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health at Exeter, funded by a £4.1 million grant from the Trust matched by £3 million from the University.

Mark says: “My work has been shaped by a strong belief that health and disease are determined by social and cultural contexts and that the arts, humanities and social sciences have much to offer in terms of addressing major health challenges and allowing us to live well across the life course. It has been a pleasure to work with fellow academics, health practitioners, students, and creative partners to explore the relations between arts, humanities and health.”

Professor Julian Savulescu, University of Oxford

Professor Julian Savulescu
Professor Julian Savulescu, University of Oxford. Photo by Murray Bransgrove


Julian established a world-leading ethics programme at the University of Oxford, initiated new areas of academic debate and new methodologies in medical humanities; and built a culture of engagement at Oxford.

Julian is a leader in medical and practical ethics, with more than 400 publications, an h-index of 58 and over 12,500 citations in total, and has made over 1000 TV, radio and print appearances. He has held the Uehiro Chair in Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford since 2002 and has brought over £23 million in donations and grants.

Julian says: “It is a great honour to be shortlisted for the Health Humanities Medal, and to be part of a growing movement to recognise the importance of the humanities in healthcare.

“More people die around the world because of ethical decisions made (or not made), than by lack of technological or scientific progress. War, famine, inequality, poverty, pollution, antimicrobial resistance are the result of individual or collective human choices. The Humanities are more important than ever. As philosopher Janet Radcliffe Richards said, 'if you die through mistakes in moral reasoning, you are as dead as if you die through mistakes in medicine'.

“Of course a great many moral mistakes have been in hubris or careless use of our technological abilities. As our power to alter nature increases, so too will the importance of the humanities. Science can tell us what we can do, but ethics is needed to tell us what we should do."

Professor Hilary Marland, University of Warwick

Professor Hilary Marland
Professor Hilary Marland, University of Warwick

Hilary is Professor of History at the University of Warwick and founding director of its Centre for the History of Medicine (CHM), which over the last two decades has evolved into one of the flagships for the discipline in Britain and internationally, with a particularly large early career community.

Over the last 20 years, she has generated substantial research income for the CHM and her own research projects, totalling around £3.5 million. She has supported the careers of a new generation of scholars and has developed innovative approaches to public engagement entailing collaborations with a range of arts, policy and cultural organisations, with impact on diverse and sometimes hard to reach audiences.

Hilary’s research has focused on the history of psychiatry, household medicine, migration and mental health, girls’ health, childbirth, medical practice, and prison medicine, resulting in 11 books and over 50 articles, as well as numerous shorter pieces aimed at non-academic audiences.

Hilary says: “This is a huge honour and I am delighted to have been shortlisted for the Health Humanities Medal. It is a privilege to work in the field of health humanities, which offers enormous scope to academics to combine research with innovative public outreach and to engage actively with issues shaping health and wellbeing.

“Collaborating with colleagues at Warwick and in Ireland, most recently on a Wellcome Trust Investigator Award on health and medicine in prison, I have had the opportunity and support to develop projects that draw on historical research to foster new ways of working with the arts, policymakers and a wide range of audiences. I am particularly excited to have this kind of initiative recognised.”

Professor Alan Bleakley, University of Plymouth

Professor Alan Bleakley
Professor Alan Bleakley, University of Plymouth

Alan has been active in the fields of medical and health humanities for over 20 years, during which time he has developed a national and international reputation as a leader and innovator in the field. Among his achievements he has set up networks for arts in health, culminating in the appointment of a funded ‘Arts for Health Co-ordinator’ position at the Royal Cornwall Hospital, Truro, and been an Advisory Board member for BMJ ‘Medical Humanities’.

Alan was instrumental in setting up an innovative medical humanities core curriculum at Peninsula Medical School (Universities of Exeter and Plymouth) where he ran a dynamic, scholarly research group whose aim was to utilise medical education and medical humanities research to further patient care and safety, and to promote public engagement with health care through the arts. In addition, Alan has been invited to several medical schools to help with curriculum innovation.

Alan says: “AHRC and the Wellcome Trust have both offered vital funding and mentoring support for past research projects, and I am pleased to see that they are supporting this award. To be shortlisted is a huge honour and I find myself in the company of peers whose work I admire. Health Humanities is a fast-growing inter-disciplinary field of scholarly study and applied research, and it is an honour to have work that one has carried out over many years formally recognised for its worth and innovation. The award will surely bring greater attention to the field of Health Humanities and aid in its promotion and development.”

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