European public health expert gets honorary degree
08 December 2023
A leading European public health expert has been awarded an honorary degree by the University of Reading in recognition of her distinguished career helping others.
Stella Kyriakides, the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, received the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science in a ceremony on Friday 8 December.
A Psychology graduate from the University in 1977, Ms Kyriakides has since dedicated her career to advancing healthcare, patient advocacy and human rights. After obtaining her degree, she worked for 28 years in Cyprus' Ministry of Health, specialising in child and adolescent psychology and establishing the country's first department in that field.
Following her own breast cancer diagnosis, Ms Kyriakides became a pioneering advocate for cancer patients. She founded the first breast cancer patient organisation in Cyprus and rose to become the President of the European Breast Cancer Coalition.
Entering Cypriot politics in 2006, Ms Kyriakides chaired parliamentary human rights committees and advanced healthcare rights legislation. As head of Cyprus’ delegation to the Council of Europe, she spearheaded child protection efforts and served as President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in 2017-2018 - the first Cypriot ever to hold that post.
Since becoming European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety in 2019, Ms Kyriakides has led the EU’s public health response to COVID-19, ensuring coordinated access to vaccines across member states. Her advocacy has also secured unprecedented EU investments in cancer research, medicines affordability, digital healthcare and mental health.
Professor Carol Wagstaff, Research Dean for Agriculture, Food and Health at the University of Reading, said: “Stella Kyriakides is a pioneering leader who has transformed patient advocacy into policy impact. She has consistently given a voice to the vulnerable and her honorary degree recognises a remarkable career of compassion, grit and political courage to advance health equity in Europe and beyond."