Understanding the relationship between physical and mental health, for the enhancement of both.
The Section of Perinatal Psychiatry and the Stress, Psychiatry and Immunology laboratory (SPI-Lab), seek to understand the body’s response to stress and whether it contributes to the manifestation of psychological symptoms. The research spans a variety of clinical settings, with a particular emphasis on clinical conditions where there are prominent changes in stress hormones, such as women in the perinatal period (and their infants), depression, first-episode psychosis, and patients with medical disorders such as viral hepatitis and coronary heart disease. Moreover, the Section and the Laboratory have a strong emphasis on biological and molecular research relevant to mental health, using both biological samples derived from patients’ populations and experimental laboratory models.
The Section’s research focuses particularly on the role of stress hormones and inflammatory responses in regulating behaviour, in the pathogenesis of depressive and psychotic symptoms, and in the therapeutic action of psychotropic drugs. Moreover, the Section’s research team is trying to understand the role of life events, early life experiences, and genetic factors, in the regulation of the stress response. The research team is working with cohorts of patients, recruited through services of the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College Hospital Liaison Psychiatry and Perinatal Psychiatry clinical services.
An important research focus of the Section is to improve knowledge and understanding about mental illness during pregnancy and after birth, the effects of mental illness on early parenting and babies, and the longer-term impact on children born to mothers with mental health problems. All the research aims to inform the development of effective treatments.
The Section is also investigating the effect of stress hormones and inflammatory cytokines in models such as human blood cells and neurones. This experimental research aims to identify cellular biomarkers that are clinically relevant as well as clarifying the effects of psychotropic drugs on brain function. Specifically, research in this area is focused on changes in gene transcription, proliferation and differentiation of neural progenitor cells in response to substances thought to contribute to the causes or treatment of depression.
The Section is led by Dr Carmine Pariante, Reader in Biological Psychiatry and Lead Consultant for the Liaison Perinatal Psychiatry Services at King’s College Hospital. Dr. Pariante and most of the members of the Section are based in the James Black Centre, and work closely with the Centre for the Cellular Basis of Behaviour (CCBB). The Perinatal Psychiatry Research Group is based in the main Institute of Psychiatry building.
Contact: Neila Sheikh
Phone: 020 7848 0531/0212
Section of Perinatal Psychiatry & Stress, Psychiatry and Immunology
The James Black Centre
125 Coldharbour Lane
London SE5 9NU
The Perinatal Research Group can also be reached at:
PO71, Division of Psychological Medicine and Psychiatry,
Institute of Psychiatry
De Crespigny Park
London SE5 8AF
Associated research programmes
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