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The Neuropharmacology Section is headed by Prof. Mitul Mehta, who is also Deputy Theme Lead for Neuroimaging in the Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health and module leader for Neuroimaging on the MSc Neuroscience. He trained in Cambridge University and Imperial College (Hammersmith Hospital) before joining the Institute of Psychiatry in 2003. His work on the dopamine system was recognised by the British Association for Psychopharmacology with a young investigator’s award in 2005.


The aim of the Neuropharmacology group is to utilise brain imaging methodology to understand how drugs affect neurophysiology, cognition and behaviour. There are three main arms to our research. 

  1. Methodological development. Psychopharmacological agents not only affect brain function, but also brain haemodynamics. Because in vivo measurement of brain function using fMRI relies on the blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) effect, results of drug studies could reflect a combination of neural and vascular influences. By utilising the latest developments in perfusion imaging and assessment of vascular reactivity (with Dr. Fernando Zelaya) along with other techniques greater precision and more accurate interpretation of drug effects can be achieved.
    In collaboration with the analysis section we are improving the analytical tools which we apply to psychopharmacological imaging studies, including the incorporation of multivariate analysis tools.
  2. Cognitive psychopharmacology. The mechanisms by which drugs used in psychiatry alter cognitive function are poorly understood. By combining careful task design with improved image acquisition and analysis methodology we aim to enhance the mechanisms through which drugs alter behaviour. 
  3. Novel mechanisms. The number and range of compounds available for human research is small in relation to the systems theoretically available for modulation in the human brain. The use of novel compounds and combinations can plug important gaps in our knowledge when combined with in vivo human neuroimaging. Much of this work requires close collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry, including clinical trials.

Members of Section

Dr. Mitul Mehta

Dr. Angie Kehagia

Dr. James Stone

Ms Stephanie Stephenson

Dr. Ndaba Mazibuko

Miss Vasileia Kotoula

Dr. Orla Doyle (affiliated)

Dr. Peter Hellyer (affiliated)

Dr. Richard Joules

Dr. Ottavia Dipasquale 

Dr. Sagari Sarkar

Mr Sam Gijsen 

Ms Fiona Pepper

Current PhD Students

Mr. Joe Barnby

Mr. Anthony Gabay

Mr. Peter Hawkins

Miss Anoushka Leslie

Miss Nuria Mackes

Mr. Ye Rong

Miss Annalisa Giordano (2nd supervisor)

Dr. Gennaro Pagano (2nd supervisor)

Previous PhD Students

Dr. Anthony Gabay (2017)

Dr. Richard Joules (2015)

Dr. Lena Lim (2014)

Dr. Sheba Azam (2014)

Dr. Astrid Pauls (2013)

Dr Sara De Simoni (2012)

Dr. Andre Marquand (2011)

Dr. Yannis Paloyelis (2010)

Dr. Nicholas Walsh (2006)

Principal Collaborators

Professor David Nutt (Imperial)

Dr. Fernando Zelaya (Department of Neuroimaging)

Dr. Quinton Deeley (Department of Forensic and Neurodevelopmental Science)

Dr. Adam Schwarz (Eli Lilly)


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