University of Bradford awards honorary Doctorate of Health degrees to high achieving professionals

University of Bradford awards honorary Doctorate of Health degrees to high achieving professionals

Renowned pharmacist Professor Mahendra Patel and optometrist Shahina Pardhan are among a group of high achieving healthcare professionals from northern England recently awarded honorary Doctorate of Health degrees by the University of Bradford.

Prof. Patel, an alumnus of the university, has been recognised for his significant impact as a world class pharmacist, educator and researcher, promoting and supporting pharmacy with an unwavering commitment to helping improve health inequalities in under-served communities.

He said: “It makes me emotional to think how proud my parents would be if they could see me receiving this award.

"Whenever I thought I had done something to be proud of I would run straight to my dad and tell him. Even when I had a paper round as a boy, I would run home to give him my weekly earnings of 50p. I just wanted him to be so proud of me.”

His father, Gulabbhai Patel, wanted his son to be a university graduate and as a child Mahendra played on the site where the University of Bradford was being built. From those early days playing amongst its rubble, his association with the institution led to him gaining his degree in Pharmacy as well as his PhD at the institution and his association continued as Honorary Visiting Professor.

He shares: “Bradford and the university is always with me, wherever I have been in the world or in my career. It makes me terrifically proud to receive this honorary award. I don’t have the words nor the level of vocabulary to express the magnitude of what it means to me.

“My message to the graduates is to be inclusive in what you do and always bring people with you. Don’t think of your career in terms of working for others, but rather working with them.  Reach for your dreams but make sure they are realistic and if you do have times when you fall, just remember there’s always the next day to pick yourself up and be ready to go again.” 

He is currently national lead supporting inclusive and representative recruitment to clinical trials for Covid-19 at the University of Oxford, and has now established the Centre for Research Equity, the first such centre of its kind. Last year, he was awarded an OBE for services to pharmacy and over the years, he has helped raise over £400,000 for the British Heart Foundation along with other charities. Prof. Patel is also the first International Fellow of the Indian Pharmaceutical Association.


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Professor Shahina Pardhan

Currently Director of the Vision and Eye Research Institute at Anglia Ruskin University, Prof. Pardhan has been honoured for her wide-reaching impact on the field of optometry. She has won numerous awards for her research in the field, been named an Asian Woman of Achievement and was listed in the world top 2 per cent scientists by prestigious US Ivy League institution, Stanford University.

She said: “I am where I am today because of the strong foundation I received from the University of Bradford nearly 40 years ago, not just in training me to be an optometrist, but also in preparing me for the challenges of life.

“It feels so special to be receiving this honour from my alma mater, especially as one of my PhD supervisors, William Douthwaite, from my time at the University of Bradford was able to be here.”

Prof. Douthwaite has been with Prof. Pardhan from the very beginning of her optometry career and remembers the day she interviewed for her undergraduate degree: “She was very quiet, a bit shy but she did strike me as being exceptional, even then, and boy, has she been a pioneer.”


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Prof. Pardhan has developed research projects and published with University of Cambridge, as well as collaborative partners in India, China, Thailand, Nepal, Mexico, Spain, the Netherlands and more. Her research has benefitted over 110,000 people in the UK, India, China, Nepal and Thailand.

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