Oxford Vice-Chancellor elected to Honorary Studentship of Christ Church

Christ Church is delighted to announce that Professor Irene Tracey CBE FRS FRCA FMedSci MAE has been elected to an Honorary Studentship. The election recognises her profound contribution to medical science and the collegiate University. 

Professor Tracey is Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford and Professor of Anaesthetic Neuroscience in the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences. She completed undergraduate and graduate studies in Biochemistry at the University of Oxford, pursuing research into the use of magnetic resonance imaging methods in the investigation of disease in humans. Professor Tracey then held a postdoctoral position at Harvard Medical School before returning to Oxford to co-found the Oxford Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain, FMRIB – now the Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging – an institute she directed for ten years. 

Professor Tracey's research for over 25 years has been to understand how the human central nervous system constructs and modulates the experience of pain in both its acute and chronic forms. Using neuroimaging her multidisciplinary team have given us mechanistic insight into one of life’s oldest sensory and emotional experiences. 

It means so much that I will be able to reconnect with the Christ Church community again after all these years.

Professor Tracey was appointed both University Lecturer at the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, and Medical Tutor and Official Student at Christ Church. She then held a Statutory Chair for 12 years as Nuffield Professor of Anaesthetic Sciences and with a Fellowship at Pembroke College. During this period, she became head of the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, a large department comprising the former departments of anaesthetics, neurology and ophthalmology, and the imaging centre. In 2019, she then returned to her alma mater, Merton College, to become its Warden prior to being elected as Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford, a post she started in January 2023.

Among Professor Tracey’s many honours are a CBE conferred upon her by King Charles III in November 2022 and several prizes, such as the Patrick Wall Medal from the Royal College of Anaesthetists in 2008 and the Feldberg Foundation prize awarded in 2017.

Professor Tracey is a Fellow of the Royal Society, a Fellow of the Royal College of Anaesthetists, a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and a member of the Academia Europaea. She is an Honorary Fellow of the British Pain Society and the Physiological Society. 

Responding to news of her election, Professor Tracey said: ‘I am delighted and honoured to have been elected to an Honorary Studentship and wish to thank members of the Governing Body for their support. It means so much that I will be able to reconnect with the Christ Church community again after all these years. I have so many happy memories of my time there as a tutor. I will do all I can to support Christ Church going forwards in both my role as Vice-Chancellor and as a member of the broader Christ Church community. Thank you, warmly.’