Rupert Whitaker is the founder and chairman of the Tuke Institute. For almost 30 years, he has worked in the fields of medicine and community advocacy with a keen focus on empowering individuals to care for their own health. Following the death of his partner Terry Higgins from AIDS in 1982, he co-founded the Terrence Higgins Trust—now Europe’s leading HIV and sexual health charity—and helped establish the prevention, mental health, and peer-led social services there. He has been a leading civil advocate for people with HIV and chronic illness, appearing on television and in the news-media with his expertise and personal experiences since the early 1980s. Based on seminal papers of his in public health that he presented at the Montreal and San Francisco International AIDS Conferences, and his appearance on the prime-time McNeil-Lehrer News Hours in New York as an immigrant with HIV, he lead the international response to anti-HIV immigration laws in the USA and elsewhere. He is a long-term survivor with HIV disease and stroke, which have caused permanent disability requiring extensive treatment. From this, he brings both his personal and professional knowledge of chronic illness to his work with the Tuke Institute in the development of patient-centred medical services. It is his vision for relevant medical services that has driven his community and civil work for the last three decades and the basis on which he designed the initial National Institute for Health Research’s (UK) national framework for public participation in translational medical science.
Training and practice:
Dr. Whitaker is a clinician-scientist with 14 years of training in the UK, Canada, and USA, where he qualified as a doctor in psychiatry, neurology, and immunology. He was a University Scholar at Boston University for five years in the nationally prestigious University Professors Program, and was awarded a national American Fellowship in Public Health, followed by three post-doctoral Fellowships at Tufts New England Medical School, the University of Michigan Medical School, and the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine. His university positions have been as a senior consultant, honorary senior research fellow, instructor in medicine, and staff scientist, working in the UK and USA, in community services, hospitals, and private clinics. Dr. Whitaker is a clinical specialist in biobehavioural medicine and chronic illness. His scientific expertise lies primarily in clinical and laboratory research in psychiatry, neurological and viral immunology, public health, and medical service-systems.
Since the early 1980s, Dr. Whitaker has been a leading community advocate for people with HIV and chronic illness, appearing on television and in the news-media with his expertise and personal experiences. At the age of 19, he first went on television (Granada TV) as an openly gay man with what was then symptomatic Gay-Related Immune Deficiency to raise awareness about the coming problem of HIV in Britain. Over time, he has appeared in news articles, documentaries, and commentaries in various media including: Channel 4 and the Discovery Channel (“A Time of AIDS”, Nov. 1993), BBC2 (Horizon), BBC1 (Panorama), BBC Radio 2 (“Flared Brightly, Died Young”), Radio 4 (“Reunion”; “PM Programme”), BBC Radio 5 Live, and the McNeil-Lehrer News Hour (New York), and has also been interviewed by various newspapers, including The Independent (1, 2), The Independent on Sunday, BBC News online, The Guardian newspaper, and the Radio Times.