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Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience

Professor Thalia Eley

Thalia Eley

Job title

Professor of Developmental
Behavioural Genetics

Director of Emotional Development, Intervention & Treatment (EDIT) Lab


Social, Genetic & Developmental Psychology (MRC)

Date started at King’s


Challenges and achievements

When did you first become interested in your academic discipline?

I have always been interested in what made people respond differently to stress and during 6th form discovered that there was a whole subject devoted to understanding emotion and behaviours – I was hooked from then..

What are your research interests, and what drew you to this area? 

I am interested in the role of genes and the environment on the development and treatment of emotional difficulties. This is an incredibly important area in this time of ever increasing stress, and the fact that anxiety begins so young and can have life-long impact drew me to studying younger samples wherever possible. 

Tell us about a couple of your achievements that have been particularly rewarding. 

I have always enjoyed translating genetics for psychologists and vice versa and consider that to be my greatest strength. I use a whole mixture of genetic methodologies from twin studies to specific genetic variants within our DNA in my work, and this requires collaboration with very different types of scientists, something I really enjoy. Most recently I have been driving forward a new field that I named therapygenetics in which we are searching for genetic variants that are associated with response to psychological treatment (pharmacogenetics) and my work in this area has attracted quite a bit of interested including some awards. It is most exciting to me because of all my work this is the area that feels it has the most potential to be of real benefit somewhere down the line. 

Do you have professional role models? Who are they and what do you find inspiring about them and their accomplishments?

Francesca Happe has always been a wonderful role model to me. Inspiring intelligent woman, working mother, who like me has 3 children. 

What do you feel is the most enjoyable/rewarding aspect of your job at King’s? 

Well right now I feel pretty irritated with King’s so not going to answer that one. But as for IoP in general and SGDP in particular I feel blessed to be in such a wonderfully collaborative and inter-disciplinary environment that makes the sort of work I do feasible. 

How do you balance the various demands of a career in academia: research, teaching/learning, administration?

I mostly focus on research and supervision of my team though of course we all have our administrative roles too. 

How do you balance an academic career with life outside the workplace?

I have three children and for about 8 years was part-time. I stepped up gradually from when the youngest was about a year moving to 70% then 80% then 90% then finally this year to 100%. I work from home 2 days a week so I can collect my kids from school and those days my husband/mum drop them so I can get started early. It works for me!

What have you learnt from your experiences that you would like to share with others?

If you have ideas and passion then the rest is perseverance. Believe in yourself and go for it. And if you have a rocky patch, just keep going, we all get them. 


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