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Honorary degree for Bradford clinician who set up one of world’s largest research projects

A clinician who set up one of the world’s largest research studies has been awarded an honorary degree from the University of Bradford.

Professor John Wright today receives an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Health for his long standing contribution to the field of healthcare and support for the University and wider Bradford community.

Commenting on the award, he said: “I am both humbled and delighted. I have worked with the University of Bradford for almost 25 years and taken great joy in how it has grown and become such a symbol of civic pride in the city. I also plagiarised the University motto: ‘Making Knowledge Work’, when we set up the Bradford Institute for Health Research 15 years ago. ‘Making Research Real’ is our motto… That’s’ what all graduating students can look forward to: making a difference. Covid 19 has darkened the skies but [graduates] are lanterns of hope.”

A clinician and epidemiologist with a background in hospital medicine and public health in the UK and in Africa, he has worked in virus hotspots around the world. He established and leads the Bradford Institute for Health Research and Wolfson Centre for Applied Health Research, working to speed up the translation of medical research into practice and policy.

In 2007 he set up Born in Bradford, one of the largest research studies in the world, tracking the lives of over 30,000 children, to find out what influences their health and wellbeing, evidence from which is used to find the causes of common childhood illnesses and conditions and to explore the mental and social development of this generation.

Prof Wright has also played a leading role in responding to the Covid-19 outbreak in Bradford, as one of the front-line staff at Bradford Royal Infirmary (BRI), as a reporter for the BBC raising awareness on how the BRI is coping with Covid-19 and as a key communicator informing communities how to stay safe during the pandemic.

Professor Shirley Congdon, Vice Chancellor of the University of Bradford and newly appointed Chair of Yorkshire Universities, said: “Prof Wright has made major contributions in tackling the unacceptable inequalities in global health and more recently the fight against Covid-19. [He] is an inspiring individual who embodies the ‘Team Bradford’ spirit. We and our region are fortunate to have such a strong, determined and passionate research leader and it’s a privilege to award him the honorary Doctorate of Health.”

Prof Wright is Visiting Professor in Clinical Epidemiology at the Universities of Bradford, York and Leeds and has authored three text books and over 300 papers and been awarded over £145 million in research award funding, £40 million as chief investigator.