Christopher Fairburn trained in medicine at Oxford and in psychiatry at Edinburgh. He returned to Oxford in 1979. He has been continuously funded by the Wellcome Trust since he was awarded a Wellcome Senior Lectureship in 1984; it was converted into a Wellcome Principal Research Fellowship in 1996. He has also been a Governor of the Wellcome Trust.

He is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and he has twice been a Fellow at Stanford’s Centre for Advanced Study in the Behavioural Sciences.

Christopher Fairburn has two main research interests; the development and dissemination of psychological interventions, and the treatment of eating disorders.