Editorial: ‘The giant’s shoulders’: understanding Michael Rutter’s impact on science and society

Edmund Sonuga-Barke*, Pasco Fearon, Stephen Scott

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The recent death of our colleague and friend Professor Sir Michael Rutter has quite rightly been greeted by an outpouring of gratitude and respect from distinguished commentators across the globe working in diverse fields of the basic, social and clinical sciences as well as from clinicians and policy makers. These have without exception highlighted his seminal role as a pioneer, perhaps The Pioneer, of the application of the scientific method to the study of child and adolescent mental health and disorder – the father of evidence-based Child Psychiatry and the most influential voice in the new field of Developmental Psychopathology (Stevenson, 2022). In this editorial, we will attempt to build on these commentaries. We will parse Mike’s scientific contributions to our field, in order to identify the personal characteristics and intellectual modus operandi that made him such a uniquely important figure, whose influence will resonate through the many fields he influenced for decades to come. We will also attempt something of a reframing of that contribution. Our thesis being that, although he never agitated for it politically or even stated it as a goal explicitly, Mike’s work was motivated by a desire for social reform and created the scientific catalyst for such reform to occur.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-3
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


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