The Department of Forensic and Neurodevelopmental Sciences is one of Europe’s largest research groups focusing on the development of prosocial and antisocial behaviours across the lifespan. Our overarching philosophy is that in order to understand abnormal behaviour (or illness) it is essential to also investigate the determinants of normal development, and to rapidly ‘translate’ our research into effective interventions.
Our academics have expertise from basic animal models through to the latest neuroimaging techniques. We align this expertise in biological approaches with epidemiology and the social sciences. Our group are world leaders in brain imaging of infants, and in relating differences in brain structure and function to social and cognitive development. We also study the genetics, epidemiology, psychopathology, neurobiology and psychopharmacology of autistic spectrum disorders and ADHD across the lifespan, conduct disorder and callous unemotional behaviour in children, and offending and antisocial personality disorder in adulthood. In addition we have a particular interest in the relationship between psychotic illnesses and antisocial behaviour; and in maternal stress/abuse and subsequent development of antisocial behaviour in their offspring.
The Department has extensive collaborative links with other centres nationally and internationally, including large EU funded training networks linking the IOP to China, the USA, and the Netherlands. Our work is supported by large scale grants from leading agencies including the Medical Research Council, Wellcome Trust, National Institute of Health Research, National Institutes of Health (USA), The Sackler Foundation, and the European Union. We currently hold approximately £45 million in research funding, and publish consistently in the world’s best neuroscience, psychology and psychiatric journals.
In order to ‘translate’ our findings into practice our work is directly integrated with clinical services within the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust, through the Behavioural and Developmental Clinical Academic Group (CAG). For example, together we run national research based clinical services in (respectively) ‘at risk’ infants, individuals with ASD or ADHD, and mentally disordered offenders (including prison mental health). We also have strong clinical and academic links with St Andrews Hospital, the North London Forensic Service, Broadmoor Hospital and the Estia Centre. The integration of the research and clinical groups drives us to translate breaking basic science research as quickly as possible into clinical applications which improve patient care. It also ensures that research and teaching reflect current clinical priorities, and that clinical practice is informed by the latest research findings.
The integration of our research programme with our clinical services is reflected in the department’s MSc, PhD and teaching unit programmes. We have taught over 300 Masters students, supervised 25 successful PhDs and hosted over 1,000 conference delegates in the last decade and the programmes are consistently highly rated in the postgraduate research assessment and conference feedback. One year full time or two year part time MSc courses teach you everything you need to know and understand in the area in order to enhance your clinical practice, provide a foundation for your DClinPsy application or to set you on an academic path through our PhD programme.