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Our researchers

Dr Elvira Bramon

Dr Elvira Bramon  is a Clinical Reader and Honorary Consultant in Psychiatry at UCL’s Division of Psychiatry and UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience.

Elvira is interested in biological markers of brain function and structure that characterise psychosis and their genetic influences. She is also interested in pharmacogenomics for antipsychotic and antidepressant drugs.

She has received the British Medical Association Margaret Temple Fellowship, the Medical Research Council’s New Investigator and Centenary Awards, two Young Investigator Awards from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation and two fellowships from the Wellcome Trust and NIHR.

Dr Bramon has developed a new programme at UCL applying EEG analysis to investigate brain dysfunction underlying genetic vulnerability towards psychosis. She says: “My research aims to use MRI scans, EEG tests and genetics to improve our understanding of why people develop psychotic disorders. Genetics could also help us to choose the best treatment for each individual and how to minimise side effects to antipsychotics and antidepressants. While EEG and other imaging biomarkers are important in themselves to understand the pathophysiology of the disease, ultimately I plan to use them as alternative phenotypes to explore the mechanisms by which genetic variants influence the risk of developing psychosis.

 

Dr John Cape

Dr John Cape is the Director of  Psychological Therapies Programmes at UCL. His research focuses on primary care mental health – in particular, psychological therapies for common mental health disorders 

in routine service settings, and the organisation of mental health services between primary and secondary care.He is a member of the NICE Clinical Guidelines Rapid Updates Standing Committee, and is chair of the London Psychology and IAPT Workforce, Education and Training Groups.

Dr Cape has previously held the positions of Head of Psychological Therapies at C&I NHS Foundation Trust and former clinical lead for the National Audit of Psychological Therapies for anxiety and depression.

He says: “My research is focused on increasing the availability of effective brief psychological interventions for people with depression, anxiety disorders and other common mental health problems .

 

Dr Claudia Cooper

Dr Claudia Cooper is an, honorary consultant old age psychiatrist with C&I. She focuses on research related to dementia and mental health in older age.

She is a clinical reader in Old Age Psychiatry at UCL, and her research interest is in the epidemiology of older people's mental health, happiness and wellbeing, elder abuse, diet and dementia and in the mental health of people with dementia and their carers. She has led on a series of systematic reviews of evidence regarding treatment and care of people with Mild Cognitive Impairment and dementia. Her recent research has focussed on who gets existing treatments for dementia. In findings from The Health Improvement Network database of UK primary care records she found that people in England who lived in more deprived areas were less likely to get treatment. She is a co-applicant on the MARQUE study, led by Professor Livingston, which is investigating how agitation is linked to life quality in care home residents with dementia, and testing a new intervention to reduce levels of agitation in care homes.

 

Professor Angela Hassiotis

Professor Angela Hassiotis is a professor of psychiatry of intellectual disabilities and consultant psychiatrist at Camden and Islington Foundation Trust. Her work focuses on epidemiological and intervention research in young people and adults with learning disability, a variety of mental disorders and challenging behaviour. Her aim is to investigate treatments that make a positive difference for people with learning disabilities and their family carers − and to ensure that the findings reach policy-makers, the public and service users. Professor Hassiotis has published extensively both original research and book chapters, and holds a number of roles including that of educator for undergraduate and postgraduate students. She has established successful Department of Research in learning disabilities at the UCL Division of Psychiatry and lectures nationally and internationally. 

She says: “My interest is in how we can use evidence-based treatments to help people with ID (learning disability) and other developmental disorders to achieve psychological wellbeing, and how to improve the delivery of those complex treatments in ordinary care.

“Examples of our work and its relation to the NHS and social care are a treatment manual we have produced on individual CBT for people with ID and mood disorders, and our contribution to evidence-gathering by national bodies such as the Department of Health, NICE, and the Cochrane Review of NHS health checks.”

 

Professor Helen Killaspy

Helen Killaspy is Professor of Rehabilitation Psychiatry at UCL and Honorary Consultant in Rehabilitation Psychiatry in C&I. Her research focuses on services and interventions for people with complex psychosis.

She is Chief Investigator for two major national programmes of research, funded for five years through the National Institute of Health Research: the Rehabilitation Effectiveness for Activities for Life (REAL) project investigated the provision, costs, quality and outcomes of inpatient mental health rehabilitation services across England; QuEST (Quality and Effectiveness of Supported Tenancies for people with mental health problems) will report on the clinical and cost-effectiveness of the three main types of mental health supported accommodation service available in England (residential care, supported housing, floating outreach). 

Professor Killaspy, Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and a past winner of the European Psychiatric Association’s Research Prize, co-founded the North London Service User Research Forum. This provides informed service user consultation for researchers, and educates service users about all aspects of research.

She says: “My research aims to clarify which specific treatments and interventions are most helpful to people with complex psychosis. It aims to help us organise mental health and social care services to deliver treatment, care and support so that people can recover from these kinds of mental health problems and achieve their maximum potential in life.”

 

Professor Michael King

Professor Michael King, former Director of the Division of Psychiatry at UCL, is a psychiatric epidemiologist whose research focus is on in large-scale national and international research.

His wide-ranging field of interest covers: randomised trial methodology; primary care mental health; risk prediction in mental health; the stress and stigma faced by gay and lesbian people; the mental health of patients in the late stages of cancer; and the role of religious and spiritual beliefs in mental well-being.

He says: “I have a particular interest in the design and conduct of cohort studies and randomised trials of complex mental health interventions in primary and secondary care. Clinical trials in this area are difficult to conduct because of the complexity of the issues, including diagnosis, interventions and outcomes.

“To gain greater understanding of the risks for mental disorders, I undertake observational research, including UK national surveys of mental health, research using large clinical data bases, and cohort studies in European populations.

“I try to establish if treatments and services for people with mental health difficulties are effective, If the NHS is to provide such treatments and services, it needs to be sure they are effective, and that they do not harm people.”

 

Dr Marc Serfaty

Dr Marc Serfaty is a Clinical Reader in Psychiatry at UCL and Consultant Psychiatrist at the Priory Hospital North London (PHNL). His research focuses on mood and anxiety disorders, older people, cancer patients, eating disorders, people with intellectual disabilities and with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, and victims of crime. He is also interested in body rhythm disorders, including the use of melatonin.

He has been chief investigator on a number of funded clinical trials using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to treat mental health problems related to eating disorders, older people, victims of crime, and cancer patients.

Dr Serfaty says: “Services may improve by addressing mental health problems in marginalised groups and challenging prejudice that excludes people from psychological interventions. Identification of at-risk groups can be done by, for example, using self-screening for older people with depression or using the internet to encourage self-referral of people with bulimia.

“The setting is also important. For example, older crime victims can be assessed by police safer neighbourhood teams in their own home, and therapy can also be delivered in this setting.

“We have challenged the myth that marginalised groups cannot engage with psychological treatments. Therapy has successfully been delivered to older people, people with learning difficulties, and people with advanced cancer.”

 

Dr Andre Strydom

Dr Andre Strydom, Consultant Psychiatrist in Learning Disabilities at C&I, focuses on recognising and treating mental disorders in adults with neurodevelopmental conditions − including people with intellectual disabilities, Down Syndrome, Autism and Asperger Syndrome, and ADHD. 

His particular interest is in research on how to diagnose and manage the memory problems some people experience as they get older and the mechanisms that underlie associations between genetic conditions such as Down Syndrome and Alzheimer’s Disease, and which could help us to identify new treatments.

Dr Strydom, who also mentors young researchers in UCL’s Division of Psychiatry, is involved in developing and trialling complex interventions in adults with ID, such as CBT for anxiety and depression, positive behaviour support for problem behaviours, and health checks for people with intellectual disabilities in primary care.

He says: “Our aim is to improve the diagnosis and treatment of mental health problems that are common in the group of disorders called Neurodevelopmental disorders, such as learning disabilities, Autism or Down Syndrome.

“We are particularly interested in the link between some genetic syndromes, such as Down Syndrome, and specific problems, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Understanding these links could help to identify new treatments.”

 

Dr Bryn Lloyd-Evans 

Dr Brynmor Lloyd-Evans is a Senior Lecturer in Mental Health and Social Care in the Division of Psychiatry at UCL. Bryn is also a mental health social worker who has practised in community mental health teams and forensic rehabilitation services. His research interests include:

  • Social interventions in mental health, especially developing ways to reduce social isolation and loneliness
  • Acute care and evaluations of alternatives to inpatient admission for people experiencing mental health crisis
  • Service improvement and implementation: developing ways to measure the content of care in mental health services and support quality improvement 
  • Improving access to care, especially early intervention services for people with psychosis

He says: “Sometimes my research involves trying out an exciting new way of working, like peer support or community navigation, and seeing how it works in mental health services. But often it’s about finding ways to help mental health services to do as well as possible the things they already do, or make things, which we already know work in principle, work more consistently in practice. I’m interested in working with mental health staff and services to look at how interventions can work effectively, to improve the care and support services can provide.”     

 

Professor Chris Brewin

Chris Brewin, Professor of Clinical Psychology at UCL, conducts research that looks at the cognitive processes involved in the cause and treatment of anxiety disorders, particularly post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression.  A major interest of his is the involuntary intrusion of upsetting thoughts, memories and posttraumatic flashbacks.  He has researched how these are experienced, what might cause them or make them worse, and how they can be more effectively controlled.

Some specific examples of Professor Brewin’s research are neuroimaging studies of emotional memory in patients with PTSD and depression, an evaluation of the NHS mental health response to the 2005 London bombings, a study of delayed onset PTSD in UK war pensioners, a test of psychological intervention for elderly victims of crime, and the development of a new method for increasing self-compassion using immersive virtual reality.  

Professor Brewin has received the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies Robert S. Laufer Memorial Award for Outstanding Scientific Achievement and has been Honorary Civilian Consultant Advisor in Clinical Psychology to the Army Medical Services.

He says; “Many people struggle with unwanted thoughts and memories that they find deeply distressing, make them feel bad about themselves, and undermine their confidence. Often they have never talked to anyone about them, and this can be a particular problem after major disasters and terrorist attacks. My research is concerned with describing these thoughts and memories and the way in which they are experienced, so that psychologists ask the right questions when they meet someone who suffers in this way.

“After major disasters we have found it is important to actively seek out people who were involved, explain that they may have a disorder, and arrange specialist treatment where necessary. Understanding how the brain and a person’s past history may be involved in producing these unwanted thoughts and memories enables us to devise new ways to treat them. For example, we may help people to change upsetting images so that they incorporate positive aspects, or use virtual reality to give people new experiences they might otherwise find difficult to accept.”

 

Professor David Osborn

Professor David Osborn, Professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology at UCL, works as a Clinical Consultant for the Trust and is also Chair of the Research Database project board. 

His main research interest is the overlap between physical and mental health.  He leads the PRIMROSE research programme; a five year study that is looking at better ways to manage cardiovascular risk for people with severe mental health illnesses which in 2013 won a prize for patient involvement in research. He also leads the national AD-CARE study of acute day units for mental health crises.

Professor Osborn also works in psychiatric epidemiology, often using large clinical databases and explores the provision of effective services for people with severe mental illnesses.

He says; “My research tries to get a good deal for people with mental health problems in terms of their physical health.  They often have worse physical health, yet this can sometimes be ignored by health professionals who only focus on their mental health issues.  People with mental health problems find this frustrating. My work provides the evidence to back up their concerns about their physical health, looks at the reasons for it, and aims to find ways to improve all aspects of their health.

 

Professor Glyn Lewis

Glyn Lewis, Professor and Director of the Division of Psychiatric Epidemiology at UCL, is interested in research that has practical implications in improving clinical care of people with psychiatric disorder

He works on research that evaluates treatments for depression in primary care and that investigates the causes of depression and psychosis.

He says; “There are 50 million prescriptions of antidepressants in England each year, and still a lot of uncertainty about when and for how long they should be prescribed. My research wants to address these questions by studying the severity and duration of depression associated with clinical benefit and investigating when to stop taking antidepressants once well.”

 

Professor Gill Livingston

Professor Gill Livingston, the trust’s lead consultant for research in Ageing and Mental Health, specialises in epidemiological and qualitative research that looks for the cause of particular problems experienced by people with dementia and their family carers, and then trials of logical interventions.  She aims to carry out research that has practical implications in improving the lives of people with dementia and their families.

Professor Livingston is head of the research department of mental health of older people at UCL and Deputy Director of the division of psychiatry, UCL.
 
She says: “My research improves lives of people with dementia and their families by finding out what works to help their symptoms and what does not. I try both to disseminate and implement what works and  discourage clinicians are others continuing with what does not work .”

 

Professor Sonia Johnson

Professor Johnson’s work focusses on the treatment outcomes, the clinical needs and social needs of the severely mentally ill, including people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorders.  Much of Professor Johnson’s work involves the evaluation of mental health service models for these groups.  Recently Professor Johnson has been involved in several investigations in the area of acute care, including evaluations of crisis resolution teams and alternative models of inpatient service delivery.

Professor Johnson is a clinical consultant with the trust.  She co-founded the Islington Early Intervention Service.  She is also Clinical Lecturer in Community Psychiatry at UCL and is Course Director of 2 MSc courses in the division of Psychiatry.

Professor Johnson has led the National Inpatient Staff Morale Study and the Mental Health Research Network's national acute care research group.  Currently, Professor Johnson is leading the CORE study, a project aimed at optimising the care delivered by crisis resolution teams, and also the CIRCLE study, a trial to investigate the effectiveness of a contingency management intervention for cannabis use in first episode psychosis. 

 

Professor Robert Howard

Robert Howard is Professor of Old Age Psychiatry at UCL and Honorary Consultant with the Camden SAMH Community Team. He leads the new Mental Health Theme within the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at C&I and UCLH.

Professor Robert HowardHe works to develop and evaluate better treatments for older people with psychosis, depression and anxiety and to improve the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Through the conduct of independent randomised clinical trials he provides evidence to help colleagues to make the best possible treatment decisions for their patients.

“Camden and Islington is a great Trust to work for as a clinical academic. We have high quality and curious multidisciplinary colleagues who understand the value of research in improving outcomes for our patients. I’d like to encourage any staff who want to get involved in research to come and talk to me.”

 

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  • "We have challenged the myth that marginalised groups cannot engage with psychological treatments. Therapy has successfully been delivered to older people, people with learning difficulties, and people with advanced cancer.” Dr Marc Serfaty