Julia Middleton and Dr Sophie Petit-Zeman ...Wellcome Trust Prize Scholar

Dr Sophie Petit-Zeman BSc (Hons) PhD co-wrote How to be an Even Better Chair in association with Julia Middleton and Common Purpose.

Sophie left school the day she turned 16, and began her working life in publishing. After about a year, remembering that what she’d enjoyed at school as much as writing was science, she worked as a research technician in the neuropharmacology group at London University Royal Veterinary College. She then took a Pharmacology degree at Kings’ College, London, and a neuroscience PhD (as a Wellcome Trust Prize Scholar; Molecular biology and neurochemistry of the cortical lesion in motor neurone disease: human post-mortem study) at the Institutes of Psychiatry and Neurology.

In 1995, she became the Mental Health Foundation’s first Biomedical Research Manager, and, in 1998, a freelance science, medicine and social care communication specialist, working with the public, voluntary and private sectors in the UK and abroad. This included major writing commissions as well as journalism for lay and professional media and devising and delivering media training. Sophie was lead journalist on Mindout, the Department of Health mental health anti-stigma campaign, and shortlisted as MIND Mental Health Journalist of the Year, 2002.

Her part-fiction part-fact book, Doctor what’s wrong? Making the NHS human again was published by Routledge in June 2005 and her book on chairing voluntary and public sector organisations, based on interviews with leaders in the field, is due out soon (Pearson). Sophie has been Director of Public Dialogue at the Association of Medical Research Charities since December 2004.