Sir Michael Rutter CBE FMedSci FRS

Michael Rutter was the first professor of child psychiatry in the United Kingdom and is regarded as the father of academic child psychiatry/psychology. He carried out definitive research into the effects on children of a lack of stable family life and showed that certain characteristics of schools affected the achievements of their pupils. He also helped to establish the genetic basis of autism.

Michael spent many years examining the effects of institutional care on children. He challenged Bowlby’s attachment theory, establishing that multiple attachments were important for children rather than sole attachment to the mother. His work following Romanian children from their time in institutions through to their adoption showed how deprivation in early life affects child development, attachment and the formation of new relationships.

In the 1980s, Michael set up the MRC Child Psychiatry Research Institute. He is the recipient of numerous awards and has held many external appointments, including Governor of the Wellcome Trust and Vice President of YoungMinds, a charity committed to improving the mental health and wellbeing of young people.

Sir Michael Rutter CBE FMedSci FRS died on 23 October 2021.

Subject groups

  • Other

    Public understanding of science

  • Health and human sciences

    Clinical neuroscience

Sir Michael Rutter CBE FMedSci FRS
Elected 1987