The Physiological Society’s Board of Trustees recently announced the appointment of six new Honorary Fellows. The Society's highest individual honour recognises persons of distinction in science who have contributed to the advancement of physiology.
Professor Irene Tracey's research has both contributed to our understanding of pain perception and pain relief within the human central nervous system, and the neural basis of anaesthesia induced altered states of consciousness. Within the physiological domain of her work, the Tracey Lab has proved that anti- and pro-nociceptive mechanisms within the descending pain modulatory system (a network involving cortical, sub-cortical and brainstem regions) are key in the context of pain reduction during placebo analgesia and distraction and pain amplification during central sensitisation after injury, respectively.
Presently an Honorary Professor at DPAG, Professor Tracey first joined the Department in 2001 in her first tenured position as University Lecturer in association with a Tutorial Fellowship at Christ Church College. Then based in the Le Gros Clark building, she was part of the team responsible for developing and modernising the neuroscience offering in the undergraduate medical curriculum, which had just expanded from 100 to 150 students. Following her appointments of Professor of Pain Research and Director of Oxford Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain (FMRIB, now the Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging (WIN)) in 2005, she remained in the Department for a further two years as a Senior Professor, before leaving in late 2006 to take on the Nuffield Chair of Anaesthetic Science alongside her Directorship of FMRIB.
As of 2021, Professor Tracey holds the positions of Pro-Vice-Chancellor (without portfolio), Professor of Anaesthetic Neuroscience and Warden of Merton College. In 2023, Professor Tracey will become the next Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford.
Professor Tracey was presented with her Honorary Fellowship by Head of DPAG and President of The Physiological Society Professor David Paterson at the 2022 Member Forum, held at The Royal Society on 2 December 2022.