Honorary Graduates

We award honorary degrees to those who have made an outstanding contribution to their chosen fields.

All information correct at time of graduation ceremony.


Simon Stevens

Simon Stevens, CEO of NHS England and NHS Accounting Officer, delivers his Honorary Graduand speech at the July 2015 degree congregation at the University of Birmingham.

Mr Simon Stevens, Doctor of the University, is Chief Executive Officer of NHS England, overseeing more than £100 billion of annual Health Service funding. His 27-year health career to date has spanned frontline NHS leadership of hospitals, mental health and primary care; seven years as the Prime Minister’s Health Adviser at 10 Downing Street and the Department of Health; and a decade running international health services across the globe. Simon is a director of the Commonwealth Fund, and has also been a trustee of the Kings Fund and the Nuffield Trust.

Dame Una O'Brien

Una O’Brien, Doctor of the University, is the Permanent Secretary of the UK Department of Health, a post she has held since 2010. A career civil servant, Una has 25 years’ experience of government and health policy. In the 1980s, Una helped establish London Lighthouse, a pioneering third sector provider of services for people with HIV and AIDS, and is a passionate advocate for better health and improving health care. Una was made a Dame in the Queen’s Birthday honours list this year.

Professor Philip Sugarman

Professor Philip Sugarman, Doctor of Medicine, psychiatrist and chief executive, retired in 2014 after a decade running the United Kingdom charity sector’s largest NHS provider, St Andrew’s Healthcare, based in Northampton. His achievements range from new specialist teaching hospitals (including Birmingham), research and publication across mental health and governance, numerous awards, and election as President of the Royal Society of Medicine psychiatry section.

Professor Pascale Cossart

Professor Pascale Cossart, Doctor of Science, was educated as a chemist in Lille, France. She obtained a MS at Georgetown University in Washington DC, and a PhD at the Institut Pasteur where she is now Professeur de Classe Exceptionnelle. After working on DNA-protein interactions, in 1986 Professor Cossart switched to the study of intracellular bacteria. She pioneered the introduction of cell biology approaches in infection biology. Her contributions have been recognised by several international prizes.



Professor Nick Craddock

Professor Nick Craddock, a world leader in the study of psychiatric genetics and a pioneer of genome-wide association studies delivers his Honorary Graduand speech at the July 2014 degree congregation at the University of Birmingham.

Professor David Haslam CBE

Professor David Haslam, Chair of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and a Fellow of the Royal College of GPs delivers his Honorary Graduand speech at the July 2014 degree congregation.



Dame Julie Moore

Graduate portrait of Dame Julie MooreJulie is a graduate nurse who worked in clinical practice before moving into management. After a variety of clinical, management and director posts, she was appointed as Chief Executive of University Hospitals Birmingham in 2006.In 2013, Julie was awarded an Honorary Chair at Warwick University, and was included in the BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour list of the 100 most powerful women in the UK.  Julie was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire in the New Year’s Honours 2012.

Professor Peter Weissberg

Graduate portrait of Professor Peter WeissbergPeter Weissberg trained as an academic cardiologist in Birmingham before going to Australia as an MRC Research Fellow studying the cell and molecular biology of atherosclerosis.  Shortly after returning to the UK he became the first British Heart Foundation (BHF) Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine in the University of Cambridge. In 2004 he became Medical Director of the BHF where he oversees funding for over half the cardiovascular research undertaken in UK universities.



Professor Sir Alex Markham

Photo of Professor Sir Alex MarkhamProfessor Sir Alex Markham is Professor of Medicine at the University of Leeds, and has over 15 years’ experience in the pharmaceutical and diagnostics industries. He studied a PhD in Chemistry at Birmingham and in 1990 was recognised by the Queen’s Award for Technological Achievement for the worldwide development of DNA fingerprinting for forensic and medico-legal applications. He was Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK from 2003 to 2008, and currently chairs the Clinical Practice Research Datalink, which will research the use of NHS electronic patient records. Professor Sir Alex was knighted for ‘Services to Medicine and Healthcare’ in 2008.

Dr Andrew Vallance-Owen

Photo of Dr Andrew Vallance-OwenDr Andrew Vallance-Owen graduated from the Birmingham Medical School in 1976 and is currently Chair of the Guild Trustee Board. A trained surgeon, he joined the staff of the British Medical Association, as Scottish Secretary and then Head of Policy. He recently retired from BUPA, where he was accountable for the safety and quality of care of BUPA’s 11 million customers. He is a keen advocate of improved doctor-patient communications, measurement of clinical performance and shared decision making and is actively involved in the fields of healthcare and education including chairmanship of UK Trade and Investment's Healthcare Business Group.

Professor Paul McMaster

Since retiring in 2000, Professor Paul McMaster has taken up the role of President of Medecins Sans Frontier UK and has worked for them and Doctors without Borders in developing countries across the globe. He has trained dozens of surgeons from across the world and has worked as a field surgeon in volatile areas of conflict. Paul studied medicine at the University of Liverpool, and trained with pioneers of liver surgery at the Hammersmith Hospital London and Addenbrooke’s Hospital Cambridge. His principal clinical work is in surgery and research in immunology and schedules to minimise organ rejection. Paul worked with Sir Roy Calne in the inception of Liver and Pancreas transplantation, and in 1980 came to Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham to set up the countries’ second liver centre with Professor Elwyn Elias. Under Paul’s direction the centre pioneered new approaches and techniques and has become one of Europe’s biggest programmes of liver disease treatment.

Dr José Narro Robles

Dr Jose Narro RoblesDr José Narro Robles is the Rector of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). He graduated as a Medical Surgeon from UNAM and then carried out his postgraduate studies in Community Medicine at the University of Birmingham. Dr. Narro Robles has taught Preventative Medicine, Family Medicine, and Public Health at UNAM and has held roles such as Director General of Planning, Secretary General, and Dean of the School of Medicine, he was appointed Rector in 2007. Dr José Narro Robles has also held several Federal Public Administration roles including Undersecretary of Health Services in the Health Department. He is a well published author and is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and the Mexican Academy of Science.



Professor Jo Bradwell

Jo Bradwell is Chairman of The Binding Site - a biomedical development company. He is currently involved with clinical trials with patients who have multiple myeloma and are in renal failure. He is studying immunotherapy in patients with parathyroid carcinoma and maintains strong research links with the University’s Medical School.

Professor Sue Hill

Professor Sue Hill trained as a clinical physiologist and gained a PhD in Respiratory Sciences. She has worked for most of her career in the NHS and academia at University Hospital Birmingham and its predecessors and at the University of Birmingham. Sue was appointed as Chief Scientific Officer at the Department of Health in 2002 and is the professional head of the 50,000 strong healthcare science workforce in the NHS and related organisations. In 2005, Sue received an OBE for her services to healthcare science.

Professor Zhong Nanshan

Professor Zhong Nanshan, a leading figure in the combat of the 2003 SARS epidemic in China, was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Birmingham at a special graduation ceremony in Guangzhou.

Head of the Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases and probably the most high profile public face in the war against SARS, Professor Zhong is a recipient of numerous honours and has received wide recognition for his work, including the Presidency of the Chinese Medical Association between 2005 and 2010. In 2009, Professor Zhong was honoured as one of China’s top 100 most influential citizens during the 60 years since the founding of the People’s Republic.

During the 2003 outbreak of SARS, as the leading respiratory clinician in Guangzhou, Professor Zhong, together with his team, proposed to admit all the critical SARS cases in Guangdong province into his institute. Through unravelling the nature of the virus, Professor Zhong helped bring calm to the nation and enabled a greater disaster to be averted.

Professor Zhong has conducted groundbreaking research in asthma and, most notably, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a major cause of death in China. Under his leadership, the Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases became the first of its kind in China to be designated Key State Laboratory of Respiratory Diseases.

Dr Chris Henney

Chris Henney is involved in all entrepreneurial aspects of the biotechnology industry. He co-founded a number of biotechnology companies, one of which developed the first immunotherapeutic vaccine approved for the treatment of cancer and the best-selling drug world-wide for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.



Professor Sir Keith O'Nions

Birmingham-born and educated Keith O’Nions is Acting Rector of Imperial College London, where he set up and directed a new Institute for Security Science and Technology. A former Chief Scientific Adviser to the Ministry of Defence, he moved to the Department of Trade and Industry, where he was Director General, Science and Innovation, and Chief Scientific Adviser. He has been the chairman or member of a number of Research Council committees and was knighted for services to earth sciences in the 1999 Queen Birthday Honours.

Professor Robert A Lamb

Robert Lamb is Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in the USA. He is editor-in-Chief of Virology and is on the editorial board of Journal of Virology. An alumnus of the University of Birmingham, he attained a BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry before being awarded a PhD in virology  and later an ScD at Cambridge University. He is Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Northwestern University and Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Northwestern University Medical School.

Dr Tim Harris

Tim Harris is Chief Technology Officer and Director of the Advanced Technology Program at the USA-based SAIC-Frederick, Inc, which develops treatments for patients with cancer and AIDs. The former President and CEO of Novasite Pharmaceuticals, he attained a BSc (Hons) Biochemistry and a PhD in Virology from the University of Birmingham before starting work as a government research scientist at the Animal Virus Research Institute. His industrial work includes periods at Celltech (now UCB Pharma), Sequana/Axys and Glaxo Group Research. He founded SGX Pharmaceuticals, where he spent six years as CEO.

Paul Sabapathy

Mr Paul Chandrasekharan Sabapathy CBE is Chairman of NHS Birmingham East and North and Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of West Midlands. He is also Vice-Chair of the NHS Confederation Primary Care Trust Network, a Trustee of the Bournville Village Trust, an ambassador of Advantage West Midlands and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and the Royal Society of Medicine. He previously held senior positions with IMI Plc, retiring as Assistant Managing Director of IMI Titanium in 1996 when he became the Chief Executive of North Birmingham Community NHS Trust. He has been Pro-Chancellor and Chair of the Board of Governors at Birmingham City University and has also served as a member of various Higher Education Funding Council committees. He was awarded the OBE for services to urban regeneration in 1995 and a CBE for services to business and education in the West Midlands in 2004.



Professor Sir Bruce Keogh

Sir Bruce Keogh is Medical Director of the National Health Service in England.  He is responsible for clinical quality, safety and strategy, undergraduate and postgraduate education of doctors, dentists and pharmacists and postgraduate training of clinical scientists.  He is also responsible for the medicines supply chain to the UK, including policy around the pharmaceutical industry, drug pricing, prescriptions and the role of pharmacy.  He is International Director of the US Society of Thoracic Surgeons and was knighted for services to medicine in 2003.

Derek McMinn

Derek McMinn qualified in Medicine from St Thomas’ Hospital Medical School in 1977.  After completing his training he became a specialist in joint replacement and revision surgery for failed joint replacements.  During the early 1990s as its Medical Staff Committee Chairman, Derek played a major part in averting the threat of closure of Birmingham’s Royal Orthopaedic Hospital.  At this time he also developed the resurfacing hip arthroplasty for which he is best known.  His pioneering of the Birmingham Hip Resurfacing, alongside Ronan Treacy, has revolutionised the management of hip arthritis in young and active patients.

Ronan Treacy

Ronan Treacy graduated from the University of Birmingham Medical School in 1983 and in 1989 was appointed as specialist registrar to the Birmingham and West Midlands Orthopaedic Training Programme.  He became focussed on Joint Replacement Surgery and later won The Laming Evans Award from The Royal College of Surgeons.  He was appointed to the consultant staff at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in 1994 and ran Orthopaedic Training for the West Midlands from 1995 - 2000.  His pioneering of the Birmingham Hip Resurfacing, alongside Derek McMinn, has revolutionised the management of hip arthritis in young and active patients.



Professor Sally Davies

At the time of her honorary graduation Sally Davies was appointed Director General of Research and Development, Department of Health on 1 September 2004.  She is also Professor of Haemoglobinopathies at Imperial College and Consultant Haematologist at Central Middlesex Hospital.  She has an international reputation in the clinical care of patients with sickle cell disease and has written widely in this field.  She is Chair of the Board of UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC) and a Member of the Medical Research Council.

Dr Richard Horton

Richard Horton has been Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet since 1995.  He has a strong interest in issues of global health, has been a medical columnist for The Observer, writes regularly for the Times Literary Supplement and New York Review of Books and was the first President of the World Association of Medical Editors.  Among other things, he currently chairs the Royal College of Physicians’ Working Party on Physicians and the Pharmaceutical Industry.

Dr Frank McCormick

Frank McCormick, Ph.D., F.R.S., is Director of the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and Cancer Research Institute.  He has been a Fellow of the Royal Society since 1996.  Prior to joining the UCSF faculty, Dr. McCormick pursued cancer-related work with several Bay Area biotechnology firms.  In 1992 he founded Onyx Pharmaceuticals and served as its Chief Scientific Officer until 1996.  Dr. McCormick is the author of more than 250 scientific publications.