David Nutt

ESCAP Expert Day - Keynote speaker

David Nutt - Biography

David Nutt, DM, FRCP, FRCPsych, FMedSci DLaws, is currently the Edmund J Safra Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology and Head of the Centre for Neuropsychopharmacology in the Division of Brain Science, Dept of Medicine, Hammersmith Hospital, Imperial College London. He is also visiting professor at the Open University in the UK and Maastricht University in the Netherlands.

After 11+ entry to Bristol Grammar he won an Open Scholarship to Downing College Cambridge, then completed his clinical training at Guy's Hospital London. After a period in neurology to MRCP he moved to Oxford to a research position in psychiatry at the MRC Clinical Pharmacology Unit where he obtained his DM.  On 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. He returned to England in 1988 to set up the Psychopharmacology Unit in Bristol University, an interdisciplinary research grouping spanning the departments of Psychiatry and Pharmacology. After a period as head of Psychiatry and then Dean of Clinical Medicine in 2009 he moved to Imperial College London where he leads a similar group with a particular focus on brain imaging, especially Positron Emission Tomography and fMRI.  

He is currently Chair of Drug Science (previously the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs (ISCD) a charity that tells the truth about drugs and with which he runs a popular podcast on matters of drug science and policy https://www.drugscience.org.uk/latest/blogs/drugsciencepodcast/ .   David has held a number od of significant scientific positions – including Presidencies of the European Brain Council, the British Neuroscience Association, the British Association of Psychopharmacology and the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology as well as Chair of the UK Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. He is a Fellow of the Royal Colleges of Physicians, of Psychiatrists and of the Academy of Medical Sciences. He is also the UK Director of the European Certificate and Masters in Affective  Disorders courses and a member of the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy. He has edited the Journal of Psychopharmacology for over twenty five years and acts as the psychiatry drugs advisor to the British National Formulary. He has published over 500 original research papers, a similar number of reviews and books chapters, eight government reports on drugs and 34 books, including one for the general public, ‘Drugs Without the Hot Air’, which won the Transmission book prize in 2014 for Communication of Ideas. The second edition of this has just been released as has his autobiography ‘Nutt Uncut’.

He broadcasts widely to the general public both on radio and television; highlights include being a subject for many BBC programmes including The Life Scientific, Hard Talk and On the Ropes and A Good Read. His research has been features in many tv programmes the BBC Horizon and the Channel 4 documentaries Ecstasy and Cannabis -live. His research has been the subject of the film #magicmedicine and the play ‘All you need is LSD’.  He is much in demand for public affairs programs on therapeutic as well as illicit drugs, their harms and their classification and the relationship between scientists and government. He also lecturers widely to the public as well as to the scientific and medical communities, e.g. at the Cheltenham Science and How the Light Gets In Festivals, Café Scientifiques and Skeptics in the Pub. In 2010 The Times Eureka science magazine voted him one of the 100 most important figures in British Science, and the only psychiatrist in the list. In 2013 he was awarded the Nature/Sense about Science John Maddox prize for Standing up for Science. He was awarded a Doctor of Laws from the University of Bath in 2017 for his work bringing evidence to bear on drug policies.

Text courtesy of David Nutt profile page of the Imperial website.