University of Leicester eBulletin

Honorary Degree to 'The Best Informed Patient in the World'

July 2002
No 140

Mrs Hazel Thornton: Honorary Degree for Contribution to Medicine and Patient Care

Doctor of Science (DSc), Wednesday 10th July, 11am

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A fearless and energetic champion of the rights of patients is to be honoured by the University of Leicester.

Founding Chairman of the Consumers’ Advisory Group for Clinical Trials Mrs Hazel Thornton will receive an honorary Doctorate of Science from the University. 

The award follows her trail-blazing work –as a cancer survivor herself - in championing patients’ causes and changing perceptions within the medical research and healthcare community.

Mrs Thornton said: “I am thrilled and very honoured to accept this honorary degree of DSc from the University of Leicester, and in company with other distinguished honorary graduands.”

Hazel Thornton
Hazel Thornton

Dr Mary Dixon-Woods, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Leicester said: “Hazel was at the forefront of those seeking to ensure that patients are properly informed about the risks and benefits of participating in research and in undergoing procedures, including breast cancer screening.

“Her early letters to The Lancet following her diagnosis of breast cancer in 1991 demonstrate her dismay at the paternalistic and patronising attitudes towards patients that then prevailed. With her characteristic flair and energy, she set about establishing the Consumers Advisory Group for Clinical Trials, which under her chairmanship made a massive contribution to ensuring that researchers fully recognised the responsibilities they had towards patients and how these should be respected. Many of the principles endorsed by the Group inform best practice in clinical research today.

“Since her retirement from the Group, Hazel has initiated an active and successful programme of work with researchers at the University of Leicester and elsewhere, exploring ways of ensuring that patients' priorities are at the centre of research and healthcare. She publishes prolifically and is a respected member of national and international research committees and teams, who are grateful to be sensitised to the patient's perspective by someone so articulate, well informed, and well motivated.

“Hazel is also increasingly turning her attention to patients as partners in medical education, helping medical students, including those at the University of Leicester, to see patients as being their teachers just as much as their lecturers and professors.”

Mrs Thornton, an Honorary Visiting Fellow in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Leicester, has nearly 100 publications to her credit, many of them in major academic journals, and has given conference presentations to the most prestigious of audiences.                        

At the 2002 University of Leicester degree congregations, twelve people will receive honorary degrees. The ceremonies will take place between the 10th and 12th July and will also mark the University of Leicester’s 80th anniversary.

The honorands are:

Professor Peter Atkins, Doctor of Science (DSc)
Professor Maurice Beresford, FBA, Doctor of Letters (DLitt)
Dr Helaine Blumenfeld, Doctor of Letters (DLitt)
Ms Lynne Brindley, Doctor of Letters (DLitt)
Mr Tim Brooks, Doctor of Laws (LLD)
Mr Chris d'Lacey, Doctor of Letters (DLitt)
Mr Stephen Frears, Doctor of Letters (DLitt)
Professor Dame Julia Higgins FRS CBE, Doctor of Science (DSc)
Professor David King FRS, Doctor of Science (DSc)
Ms Tasmin Little, Doctor of Music (DMus)
Mrs Hazel Thornton, Doctor of Science (DSc)
Dr David Western, Doctor of Science (DSc)

NOTE TO NEWSDESK: For more information, please contact Dr Mary Dixon-Woods; Telephone 0116 2523204; Email:

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