Our Board of Trustees

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Professor Sir Michael Owen, Chair of Trustees and Awards Committee

Mike is Professor of Psychological Medicine, at Cardiff University. He trained in medicine and obtained a PhD in neuroscience at Birmingham University before moving to London to train in psychiatry at the Maudsley Hospital and molecular genetics at St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School. He was appointed as Senior Lecturer in Cardiff in 1990 and from 1998-2019 was Head of the Department of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences.  He was also Director of the MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics from 2009-2019.  


His research focusses on the genetics of psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders and is aimed at understanding disease mechanisms, improving diagnostic processes and identifying new treatment opportunities. He was President of the International Society of Psychiatric Genetics (ISPG) from 1993-2014 and has twice been elected to the council of the Academy of Medical Sciences.  


He was awarded the Stromgren Medal for psychiatric research in 2011, the Lieber Prize for schizophrenia research in 2012, the William K Warren Distinguished Investigator Award for schizophrenia research in 2013, the Lifetime Achievement Award of ISPG in 2015, and the British Neuroscience Association Award for Outstanding Contribution to Neuroscience in 2017. He practiced as a consultant psychiatrist until February 2016 


Professor Clair Chilvers, Co-founding Trustee

Clair Chilvers was formerly Chair of Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and before that of Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust one of the largest providers of mental health and learning disability services in England. She was formerly Director of the Mental Health Research and Development Portfolio at the Department of Health and Director of the National Forensic Mental Health R&D Programme. She is a Trustee of the McPin Foundation.

Clair was a cancer epidemiologist and was Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Nottingham. From 1996 to 1999 she was Dean of the University's Graduate School. She was a member of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution from 1994 to 1998.


She has been a Trustee of the Centre for Mental Health, Barnwood Trust and of the LloydsTSB Foundation for England and Wales and a Deputy Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire.

Clair was chair of Mental Health UK from 2011-2021 and is a member of the Scholarship Awards Committee.


Dr. Laura Davidson, Co-founding Trustee

Laura Davidson is a Barrister with a Ph.D in mental health law and human rights at No.5 Chambers in London (https://www.linkedin.com/in/laura-davidson-01116150/). Her work involves all aspects of healthcare law, but she has particular interest and expertise in mental health, capacity and disability law. She is also an international development consultant in the fields of public health and justice, and has worked in Africa, South America and Asia. She has been a visiting academic Fellow at the law faculty of the University of Cape Town for a number of years, and regularly conducts research and publishes in legal and other journals.  She has co-authored and contributed to three legal books, and is sole editor of The Routledge Handbook of International Development, Mental Health and Wellbeing (2019) (London: Routledge).

Laura's desire to set up a charity dedicated to funding research into the causes of mental illness arose from her frustration that so many sectioned patients she represented in psychiatric hospitals were unresponsive or resistant to current treatments.  She believes that research is the key to making a long-term global difference in the lives of those with mental health issues.


Lord Neuberger, Trustee

The Rt. Hon. Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury (in the county of Dorset) was sworn in as President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom on 1 October 2012 previously he was Master of the Rolls from 1st October 2009 – 30 September 2012.

Lord Neuberger was born on 10 January 1948, and educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford University. After working at NM Rothschild & Sons 1970-73, he was called to the Bar (Lincoln’s Inn) in 1974. He was made a Bencher for Lincoln’s Inn in 1993.

He was appointed as a Queen’s Counsel in 1987, and his first judicial appointment was as a Recorder, between 1990 and 1996. In 1996 he was appointed as a High Court Judge in the Chancery Division. He was the Supervisory Chancery Judge for the Midland, Wales and Chester and Western Circuits for 2000-04. In January 2004 he was appointed as a Lord Justice of Appeal. In January 2007 he was appointed as a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary (a ‘Law Lord’) and given a life peerage. 

David was a Trustee of the Schizophrenia Research Fund and became a Trustee on its linking to Mental Health Research UK in 2014.


Professor Nick Rawlins, Trustee

Professor Nick Rawlins was appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Development and External Affairs, University of Oxford, in October 2010. Professor Rawlins completed both his BA and DPhil at Oxford. His research spans areas including the neural basis of memory, brain degeneration, pain and anxiety, and has published widely in these fields.

He was elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2006 and Fellow of the British Psychological Society in 2010. Professor Rawlins was Associate Head of Oxford’s Medical Sciences Division from 2008 until taking up his present post.

He was a Junior Research Fellow at University College and then a Senior Research Fellow there before taking up a tutorial Fellowship which he held for more than 20 years, as University Lecturer and Sir Jules Thorne Tutorial Fellow. He moved to Wolfson College as a Professorial Fellow in 2007. In 2018 Nick took up the post of Master of Morningside College, Chinese University of Hong Kong. 

Nick was a Trustee of the Schizophrenia Research Fund and became a Trustee on its linking to Mental Health Research UK in 2014. 


David Pugh, Trustee and Hon Treasurer

David Pugh is a taxation consultant specialising in all aspects of personal taxation. He began his career with the Inland Revenue in 1965 before joining Peat Marwick Mitchell & Co in 1970. He became assistant tax manager in the personal tax department in 1981. In 1987 the firm joined forces in the first mega-merger of larger accountancy firms and formed Peat Marwick McLintock before being renamed KPMG in 1995.

In 1996 after nearly 27 years he was asked to become the personal tax manager of the Nottingham office of Neville Russell later to become Mazars a position he held until setting up his own practice Robertson Pugh & Co in 2008 at the age of 60 despite also being actively involved on a day to day basis in an investment property business. Robertson Pugh & Co is already well established with an extremely diverse range of clients including high net worth individuals, family owned businesses, non residents and trusts.

His work has for over 45 years related to all aspects of personal taxation but he also has a wide experience of probate work and acts as an Attorney for many Enduring Power of Attorney cases. David became a Trustee in March 2011.


Dr Vanessa Pinfold, Trustee

Vanessa Pinfold has a Phd from the Department of Geography, University of Nottingham where she worked looking at the impact of mental health deinstitutionalisation. Since then she taken her research interest to Kings College London and the then Institute of Psychiatry, Rethink Mental illness and recently to set up a charity – the Mcpin Foundation (www.mcpin.org). She has peer review publications on stigma and discrimination, carer support, co-production and wellbeing networks.


Vanessa is passionate about the importance of mental health research and chairs the Alliance of Mental Health Research Funders. MHRUK and the McPin Foundation have agreed to formalise our close working relationship by appointing Vanessa to the MHRUK Board and Clair Chilvers to the McPin Foundation Board. 

Vanessa became a Trustee in 2016 and is a member of Mental Health Research UK's Scholarship Awards Committee.


Rachel Dakin, Trustee

Rachel is a communication consultant working at KPMG. She is the London Director of the Institute of Internal Communication. Prior to joining KPMG, Rachel worked for reputation management consultancy Lansons. With a background in employee engagement and a personal interest in mental health, Rachel has a particular interest in de-stigmatising mental illness in the workplace.


Rachel became a trustee in January 2019. 

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Anne Marie Millar, Trustee

Anne Marie Millar is an experienced finance director who has worked at board level for many years. Her early finance career was in electronics in the private sector before moving into the public sector where she worked on rail privatisation, held regional and national finance director roles in health, before moving into the nnvironment sector as Finance Director for Defra. She is currently Finance Director RPA, Future Farming and EU Finance where she manages significant farming grants for agriculture and planning for when the UK Transition period ends.


Anne Marie is a member of both CIMA and CIPFA and has served as a CIMA Council member. Her experience working  in the Health service has given her a key interest in supporting mental health research. Anne Marie became a trustee  in May 2020


Peter Jones, Trustee

Peter qualified in medicine at King's College London and Westminster Medical School. He trained in psychiatry at the Maudsley Hospital and Institute of Psychiatry, and in epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene. He was senior lecturer in psychological medicine at the Institute of Psychiatry, Professor of Psychiatry and Community Mental Health in Nottingham and was appointed Professor of Psychiatry at Cambridge in 2000 where he was Head of Department from 2000-2014, and Deputy Head of the School of Clinical Medicine, 2014-20. Peter is Director of the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) East of England and predecessor organisations.


Peter's research interests are in the epidemiology of mental illness, particularly early life determinants, and in evaluation of therapeutic interventions at the individual and system level. Clinically, he co-led the award winning CAMEO.nhs.uk early intervention service where he practises as an honorary consultant psychiatrist in this service for young adults with psychosis. He is a non-executive director at the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust and a trustee of MQ: mental health research. Peter became a Trustee in November 2020.

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Past Trustees

John Grace QC, L.L.B (2007-2010), Former and Co-founding Trustee

John Grace was called to the Bar in 1973, appointed Queen's Counsel in 1994, and was Head of his chambers from 2000 to 2007. His work for over 20 years exclusively related to all aspects of medicine, medical, and mental health law and practice. He represented patients, NHS Trusts and all the Medical Defence Organisations in clinical negligence and disciplinary cases, and had wide experience of medical ethical cases, such as applications to the High Court for declarations in relation to mentally incapacitated patients and judicial review in relation to medical treatment.

John was Consultant Editor of Lloyd's Law Reports Medical for many years, and was Chairman of various Bar Council committees and working groups. He was the Bar Council representative on the Lord Chancellor's Department Clinical Negligence Working Group. He had a close family member who suffered from severe mental illness, for whom he was nearest relative under the Mental Health Act 1983. Sadly John died on 16 July 2011 - he is greatly missed.


MHRUK has since set up the John Grace QC Scholarship in schizophrenia research in John's memory, an annual PhD Scholarships awarded in his name. Click here for more information