Professor Gerald Russell



Prof. Gerald Russell with Helen Smith of BenendenProfessor Russell, of West Wickham, began his career in 1951 when he qualified in Medicine and later rose to become one of the most eminent psychiatrists of our time. In 1979, he discovered, described and named the eating disorder, bulimia nervosa. In addition, he led a team which developed family therapy for anorexia nervosa and established its efficacy in the younger patients through controlled clinical trials.

This was made possible by setting up clinical eating disorder units, in turn at the Royal Free Hospital, the Maudsley Hospital and finally at the Priory Hayes Grove. The reputation of these units was such that patients travelled across the UK to be treated there. Professor Russell is the only living psychiatrist to have a medical condition named after him; the ‘Russell’s Sign’ refers to calluses on the knuckles caused by bulimic patients putting fingers down their throats to induce vomiting.

He has also clarified the classification of Eating Disorders through the formulation of their diagnostic criteria in the International Classification of Mental Disorders (ICD-10). Professor Russell’s 63-year-long clinical career ended in 2014, when he retired. Professor Russell still takes an active interest in his field, attending conferences and clinical case presentations.

His research into family therapy for eating disorder patients revolutionised their treatment and methods he and his colleagues developed are still used internationally to this day, impacting the lives of those with eating disorders and their families.

Nominated by Victoria Faint