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Richard Himsworth

Richard Himsworth

Areas of Interest

Health Care, Education

Honorary Award

Honorary Doctor of Science, 2000


Professor Himsworth, who is now retired, has been a physician, clinical scientist and academic. He was a student at the University of Cambridge and qualified in medicine from University College Hospital Medical School in London. After junior clinical and academic appointments in London he went to Columbia University, New York on a Medical Research Council Fellowship. Returning to the UK he joined the Scientific Staff of the MRC at the Clinical Research Centre and was a consultant physician at Northwick Park Hospital. In 1985 he was appointed to the Regius Chair of Medicine at the University of Aberdeen and as a consultant Physician at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. In 1993 he was invited to return to Cambridge as Professor of Health Research and Development and Regional Director of R&D for the Department of Health. He subsequently became Director of the Institute of Public Health in the University of Cambridge. Throughout his career he has been a prolific researcher publishing many papers across the fields of his interests spanning neuroendocrinology, thyroid disease, immunology, and health services research. In his retirement he has obtained an MA in the History of Medicine (with Distinction) from University College, London.

In 2000 Professor Richard Himsworth was made Honorary Doctor of Science.


"The Senate of Anglia Polytechnic University is pleased to recommend the award of the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science to Richard Lawrence Himsworth in acknowledgement of a career spent in medical research and health policy and management, and in recognition of his contribution to health research in this region.

For a university with a mission dedicated to regional development and the advancement of public health, Richard Himsworth's current list of appointments is deeply significant. He is Director of the Institute of Public Health at Cambridge University and its Professor of Health Research and Development; a Professorial Fellow at Girton College; Honorary Professor at the University of East Anglia; Director of Research and Development of the NHS Executive. His impact on health research generally (and in this region in particular) is thus considerable.

The development of his career, of which the above is a culmination, represents the interaction of three strands of intense activity: as a practising physician; as an academic clinical researcher; and as a distinguished administrator and contributor to seminal policy developments. The precise emphasis of the three elements has varied over time, but he regards the interaction as a fundamental element in a highly enjoyable professional life, in which he fully acknowledges the virtues of serendipity compared with a planned process of career development.

Following the acquisition of first degrees at Cambridge, he held physician and lecturing appointments at University College Hospital and benefited considerably from Medical Research Council Fellowship which took him to New York in 1970. Via Honorary Consultant Physician and Head of Endocrinology MCR Clinical Research Centre appointments, he proceeded to the Regius Chair of Medicine at Aberdeen in 1985 and thence to his present clutch of appointments in East Anglia from 1993.

During this onward and upward march he managed to combine academic clinical research with a keen involvement in health policy and organisation development, which involved the freeing up of the NHS from the relative stagnation into which it had fallen in the early 1970s. Active contributions to the Kings' Fund Commissions on the London medical scene in 1993 and 1997 bears testimony to his efficacy as a reformer.

Throughout this period he kept up a remarkable flow of highly regarded research papers - 83 in all - with a particular flourish between 1980 and 1993, principally in areas such as clinical endocrinology, immunology, haematology, the thyroid and Graves' disease. In recent years, his research has moved to policy related issues such as the impact of an ageing population on the NHS, health research policy and financing and the organisation of primary and secondary care. The whole is liberally besprinkled with service on various committees of the Medical Research Council, health authorities, universities and editorial boards.

In his present positions, we may discern his major priorities for health research in the Eastern region, amongst which are public expectations of high quality in medical science; the development of a research oriented and practising health profession; and the continuing professional development of the medical health professions. As far as this university is concerned, his plans of opening up our research capability to professionals in the field are warmly applauded.

For all the above reasons, therefore Vice Chancellor, it gives me great pleasure to invite you to confer the award of Honorary Doctor of Science on Richard Himsworth."