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Professor Trish Greenhalgh


Professor of Primary Care Health Sciences, Oxford Professor Trish Greenhalgh is Professor of Primary Care Health Sciences at the University of Oxford, an internationally recognised academic in primary health care, a practising GP and the author of the bestselling How To Read A Paper: The Basics of Evidence-Based Medicine, published by Wiley and the BMJ, and now in its fifth edition. She also has a parallel career in Triathlons.

Trish always wanted to be a doctor, and her interest was aroused when she saw her older brother falling ill. Trish was only three years old. She applied to Cambridge despite being advised not to by her school teacher because Cambridge did not take ‘her sort’. At the age of seventeen years, she was interviewed for her place at Clare College in Cambridge but was told that seven of her answers were incorrect. As the interviewer, later a Nobel Prize winner, explained the answers, Trish asked more and more questions – a true researcher in the making. She got her place and studied Medical, Social and Political Sciences as her first degree and then Clinical Medicine at Oxford. Having failed an exam at medical school, Trish contemplated dropping out, but was talked out of it by Sir David Weatherall and has never regretted becoming a doctor. She qualified in 1983 before training as an academic GP and worked at University College London until 2010. Trish then spent the next four years working at St Bartholomew’s (Barts) and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry. In 2010, she was appointed Professor of Primary Health Care and Dean for Research Impact at Queen Mary University of London and tasked with setting up and leading the Healthcare Innovation and Policy Unit in the Centre for Health Sciences at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry. In 2015, Trish was appointed Professor of Primary Care Health Sciences and Fellow of Green Templeton College at the University of Oxford, where she leads a programme of research at the interface between the social sciences and medicine. Her work seeks to celebrate and retain the traditional and the humanistic aspects of medicine and healthcare while also embracing the unparalleled opportunities of contemporary science and technology to improve health outcomes and relieve suffering. Her three research areas of interest include the health needs and illness narratives of minority and disadvantaged groups; the introduction of technology-based innovations in healthcare; and the complex links (philosophical and empirical) between research, policy and practice.

She is author of two hundred and fifty peer-reviewed publications and eight textbooks. Trish was awarded an OBE for services to medicine in 2001, received a National Institute for Health Research Senior Investigator Award and is the only GP to have twice won the Royal College of General Practitioners Research Paper of the Year Award. In 2006, she received the Baxter Award from the European Health Management Association for Outstanding Contribution to Research in Healthcare Management and became a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2014. Trish is a member of the Medical Research Council Committee on Good Research Practice, World Health Organisation Expert Advisory Panels on Clinical Practice Guidelines and Research Methods and Ethics and RAND/IHI International Working Group on Patient Safety. Despite her many medical accolades, she is most proud of winning a Team Gold for Great Britain in the 1987 European Ironman Triathlon Championships. Trish admits that her biggest mistake was letting herself get too tired when she worked as a junior doctor in the days before the European Working Time Directive. Although there were no major mishaps, she shudders to think what could have happened if the holes in the Swiss cheese of ‘normal accident theory’ had all aligned. Her greatest inspiration is the NHS surgeon who saved her life last year by doing an emergency operation at midnight. Although it was not a difficult procedure, she recognises that she would not be here if it was not for him. “On many occasions in my own career I’ve had patients similarly overwhelmed with gratitude for something I had done for them that I felt was neither difficult nor onerous, but which made a big difference to their life. This is why it is such a privilege to be a member of the medical profession,” she reflects. * Favourite Opera: Wagner’s Ring Cycle * Three objects Trish cannot live without: Bicycle, Macbook Air, Ergonomic chair

Trish’s advice to junior doctors is “Family comes first. Always. I am about to celebrate thirty years of marriage, and our children (now 25 and 28) tell me that although I was a working mum, I was around for them when they needed me.”


Medical Woman | Spring 2017

Medical Woman – Magazine Centenary Issue, April 2017  

The magazine for the Medical Women’s Federation (MWF), the largest and most influential body of women doctors in the UK which aims to promot...

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