Dr Cecil Helman, Professor of Medical Anthropology at Brunel University, has been presented with the prestigious George Abercrombie title for the 'person who has made an outstanding contribution to the literature of general practice'.
The silver medal is awarded by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and is one of the highest awards given by the College.
Dr Helman's expertise ranges from the cross-cultural study of health, illness and medical care, to the many different forms of healthcare and healing found around the world. He has conducted research on primary healthcare systems and on traditional healers in a number of countries, including South Africa and Brazil.
Talking about the award win, Dr Helman said: “I am truly grateful for this esteemed award. It's always a great feeling when your work is recognised amongst your fellow peers and especially the Royal College of General Practitioners.“
Dr Rodger Charlton, a Fellow of the Society of Medical Writers who introduced the nomination, said: 'Dr. Cecil Helman is a worthy recipient who continues to be a source of wisdom to members of this College and colleagues in family medicine world-wide'.
Dr Helman was born in Cape Town, South Africa, qualifying as a doctor at the University of Cape Town Medical School. He obtained a Diploma in Social Anthropology from UCL in 1972. He is a prolific writer of science, anthropology and poetry, and is a renowned international speaker.
He is currently working on a sequel to his memoir 'Suburban Shaman: Tales from Medicine's Frontline', which was described by Oliver Sacks (author of 'The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat') as 'a beautifully written, devastatingly honest, and often very funny, account of an audacious and adventurous life'.
It was selected as the BBC Radio 4's 'Book of the Week' in 2006, and subsequently serialised (see UCL News, 28 February 2006). In 2007 it won the Medical Journalists Association Open Book Award. His textbook 'Culture, Health and Illness' is one of the standard international textbooks in medical anthropology, and he has also edited the textbook 'Medical Anthropology' (2008).