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Prof Thalia Eley BA PhD

Thalia Eley












Professor of Developmental Behavioural Genetics

EDIT Lab Director



  • Professor of Developmental Behavioural Genetics, SGDP Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London (2013 to present).

  • Reader in Developmental Behavioural Genetics, SGDP Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London (2009 to 2013).

  • Senior Lecturer, SGDP Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London (2008-2009).

  • Medical Research Council Research Fellow with status of Senior Lecturer, SGDP Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London (2002-2008).

  • Medical Research Council Research Training Fellow with status of Lecturer, SGDP Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, KCL (1999-2002).

  • Post-doctoral research worker (Twins’ Early Development Study), SGDP Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, KCL (1996-1998).

Research overview

My work focuses on exploring interplay between genes and the environment with respect to the development and treatment of anxiety and depression, particularly in young people. I have always been fascinated by the fact that different people react so differently from one another when under stress. In my research I use both twin studies, in order to estimate the relative contribution of genes and the environment, and also molecular genetic approaches, which can identify links between specific genes and outcomes of interest. I also draw on methods used in experimental psychology to explore aspects of information processing that may be relevant mechanisms when trying to understand the role of genes and the environment on the development and treatment of anxiety and depression. 

For an overview of Professor Eley’s therapygenetics work please watch her talk at the Karolinska Institute here, 2017.

For a brief overview of Professor Eley’s work please watch her talk at the IoPPN Parade of Stars, 2013.

For a more in depth summary of her whole research programme, you can watch her 2014 inaugural lecture here.


2017 The James Shield Lifetime Achievement Award for Twin Research in Behavioural Genetics

2015 + 2011 Macquarie University Excellence in Research Award

2005 Pierre Janet Award (International Society for the Study of Dissociation)

2004 Lilly-Molecular Psychiatry Award (for best original research by a young investigator)

2002 British Psychological Society Spearman Medal (for outstanding published work in psychology within 10 years of graduation) 

Funded Grants (past 5 years)

  1. Exploring social factors in the psychological treatment of anxiety and mood disorders, ESRC LISS DTP Case Studentship, October 2017-October 2021. Lead Supervisor: Thalia Eley. Second Academic Supervisor: Andrea Danese. Partner: Kumar Jacobs from MindWave

  2. Intergenerational Transmission of Risk for Common Mental Disorders: A Longitudinal Extended Children-of-Twins Cohort Study, The Research Council of Norway Independent basic research projects - Medicine, Health Sciences and Biology (FRIMEDBIO), December 2017 – December 2020, £38,521.21. Principal Investigator: Eivind Ystrøm, KCL Subcontract Principal Investigator: Tom McAdams. Co-investigators: Thalia Eley, Fruhling Rijsdijk.

  3. Prediction of response to psychological therapy in anxiety and depressive disorders from clinical, demographic and genetic factors, Fondation Peters, October 2015-October 2019, £140,000. Principal investigator: Thalia Eley; Co-investigator: Gerome Breen.

  4. Origins of learning difficulties and behaviour problems: From behavioural genetics to behavioural genomics, MRC Progamme Grant (MR/M021475/1), October 2015-October 2020, £1,597,091 (FEC £2,665,695). Principal investigator: Robert Plomin. Co-investigators: Thalia Eley (10%), Emily Simonoff, Philip Dale,Gerome Breen, Paul McCrone. 

  5. Cumulative genetic plasticity as a predictor of psychological treatment response: Cognitive behaviour therapy for child anxiety disorders, Jacobs Foundation Project Grant, June 2014-December 2016, £25,970. Principal investigator: Kathryn Lester; Co-Investigator: Thalia Eley.

  6. Genome-wide expression change over the course of exposure-based psychological therapy, Biomedical Research Centre and Dementia Unit Experimental Clinical Trials Pilot Funding Awards 2013-2014, January 2014-March 2014, £24,000. Principal investigator: Thalia Eley; Co-investigators: Kathryn Lester, Gerome Breen, Richard Dobson.

  7. The emotional health project: understanding and preventing anxiety and depression in girls, Australian Research Council Linkage Grant, (LP130100576), February 2014-February 2017, $341,484 (Australian dollars, subcontract to IoP, KCL of £75,347). Chief investigators: Jennifer Hudson, Carol Newall and Ron Rapee. Principal investigator of genetic sub-contract: Thalia Eley.

  8. MRC Population Health Scientist Fellowship (MR/K021281/1), July 2013-July 2016, £270,776 (FEC £338,470). Fellow: Rob Keers, Supervisors: Thalia Eley and Cathryn Lewis.

  9. MRC Centenary Early Career Award: Adjunct to MRC New Investigator Research Grant (G0901874), Sept 2012-Aug 2014, £80,000 (FEC £100,000). Principal (sole) Investigator: Thalia Eley.

  10. Understanding genetic and environmental risks of emotional disorders in childhood and adolescence. Australian Research Council (FT120100217). July 2012-July 2016, $794,124 (Australian dollars). Principal investigator/Fellow: Jennifer Hudson. Status: Named collaborator.

  11. Attention Bias Modification (ABM): Development and testing of a school-based “Cognitive Vaccine” for the reduction and prevention of child anxiety (MR/J011762/1), MRC, September 2012-September 2014, £240,869 (FEC £298,557). Principal investigator: Thalia Eley; Co-investigator: Kathryn Lester.

  12. Familial transmission of emotional development: A child of twins approach. Leverhulme Trust (RPG-210), March 2012-March 2015, £195,440. Principal Investigator: Thalia Eley. Co-investigators: Paul Lichtenstein, Jenae Neiderhiser, Jurgita Narusyte.

  13. DNA methylation and adolescent depression: an MZ differences study. Psychiatry Research Trust, September 2011-September 2013, £47,800. Principal investigator: Thalia Eley; Co-investigators: Jonathan Mill and Emma Dempster.

  14. International Study of Genetic Factors in Exposure Treatments of Anxiety Disorders. Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation, Sept 2011-Sept 2016, £301,248. Sub-contract from an award made to Prof Jürgen Margraf. Principal investigator of genetic sub-contract: Thalia Eley.

Key Publications

  1. Purves, K. L., Coleman, J. R. I., Rayner, C., Hettema, J. M., Deckert, J., McIntosh, A. M., …Breen, G., Eley, T. C. (2017). The common genetic architecture of anxiety disorders. BioRxiv. doi: 10.1101/203844

  2. Eley, T. C.*, McAdams, T. A.*, Rijsdijk, F. V., Lichtenstein, P., Narusyte, J., Reiss, D., Spotts, E., Ganiban, J., Neiderheiser, J. M. (2015). The intergenerational transmission of anxiety: a children-of-twins study. American Journal of Psychiatry, 172(7), 630-637. doi: 

  3. Hudson, J. L., Keers, R., Roberts, S., Coleman, J. R. I., Breen, G., …. Eley, T. C. (2015). Clinical Predictors of Response toCognitive-Behavioral Therapy in Pediatric Anxiety Disorders: The Genes for Treatment (GxT) Study. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 54(6), 454-463. doi: 10.1016/j.jaac.2015.03.018

  4. Dempster, E. L., Wong, C. C. Y., Lester, K. J., Burrage, J., Gregory, A. M., Mill, J., & Eley, T. C. (2014). Genome-wide methylomic analysis of monozygotic twins discordant for adolescent depression. Biological Psychiatry. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2014.04.013

  5. Roberts, S., Lester, K. J., Hudson, J. L., Rapee, R. M., Creswell, C., Cooper, P. J., Thirlwall, K. J., Coleman, J. R. I., Breen, G., Wong, C. C. Y.*, Eley, T. C.* (2014) Serotonin Transporter Methylation and Response to Cognitive Behaviour Therapy in Children with Anxiety Disorders. Translational Psychiatry, 4, e444. doi: 10.1038/tp.2014.8   

  6. Waszczuk, M. A.*, Zavos, H. M. S.*, Gregory, A. M., & Eley, T. C. (2014). The phenotypic and genetic structure of depression and anxiety disorder symptoms in childhood, adolescence and young adulthood. JAMA Psychiatry, 71(8), 905. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.655.

  7. Hudson, L. J., Lester, K. J., Lewis, C. M., Tropeano, M., Creswell, C., Collier, D. A., Cooper, P., Lyneham, H. J., Morris, T., Rapee, R. M., Roberts, S., Donald, J., & Eley, T. C. (2013). Predicting outcomes following cognitive behaviour therapy in child anxiety disorders: the influence of genetic, demographic and clinical information. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 54(10), 1086-1094. doi:10.1111/jcpp.12092

  8. Eley, T. C.,Hudson, J. L., Creswell, C., Tropeano, M., Lester, K. J., Cooper, P., Farmer, A., Lewis, C. M., Lyneham, H. J., Rapee, R.M ., Uher, R., Zavos, H. M. S., & Collier, D. A. (2012). Therapygenetics: The 5HTTLPR and response to psychological therapy. Molecular Psychiatry, 17, 236-237. doi:

  9. Stringaris, A., Zavos, H. M. S., Leibenluft E., Maughan, B., & Eley, T. C. (2012). Adolescent irritability: phenotypic associations and genetic links with depressed mood. American Journal of Psychiatry, 169, 47-54. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2011.10101549

  10. Zavos, H. M. S., Gregory, A. M., & Eley, T. C. (2012). Longitudinal genetic analysis of anxiety sensitivity. Developmental Psychology, 48, 204-212. doi: 10.1037/a0024996

  11. Zavos,H.M.S., Rijsdijk,F.V., Gregory,A.M. & Eley,T.C. (2010). Genetic influences on the cognitive biases associated with anxiety and depression symptoms in adolescents. Journal of Affective Disorders,124, 45-53. doi:

  12. Lau, J. Y. F. & Eley, T. C. (2008). Disentangling gene-environment correlations and interactions on adolescent depressive symptoms. Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry, 42,142-150. doi:

  13. Eley, T. C., Gregory, A. M., Clark, D. M., & Ehlers, A. (2007). Feeling anxious: A twin study of panic/somatic symptoms, anxiety sensitivity and heart-beat perception in children. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 48, 1184-1191. doi:

  14. Lau, J. Y. F., Rijsdijk, F. V., & Eley, T.C. (2006). I think, therefore I am: A twin study of attributional style in adolescents. Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry, 47, 696-703. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.2005.01532.x

  15. Eley, T. C., Stirling, L., Ehlers, A., Gregory, A. M., & Clark, D. M. (2004). Heart-beat perception, panic/somatic symptoms and anxiety sensitivity in children. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 42, 439-448. doi: 10.1016/S0005-7976(03)00152-9

  16. Eley, T. C., Sugden, K., Gregory, A. M., Sterne, A., Plomin, R., & Craig, I. W. (2004). Gene-environment interaction analysis of serotonin system markers with adolescent depression. Molecular Psychiatry, 9, 908-918. (Awarded the Lilly-Molecular Psychiatry Award 2004). doi:

  17. Eley, T. C., Bolton, D., O'Connor, T. G., Perrin, S., Smith, P., & Plomin, R. (2003) A twin study of anxiety-related behaviours in pre-school children. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 44, 945-960. DOI: 10.1111/1469-7610.00179

See Thalia's CV for more publicationsDocumentation_KCL_mini-puff-224x135px-03


January 2018

Is it ethical to look at genes when tackling mental illness?MQ interview where Thalia discusses her work in Therapygenetics and how it can help improve the way we treat mental illness.

June 2017

All in the Mind: Parent's self stigma and mental health; First impressions; Mental health manifestos; Insiders' Guide BBC Radio 4's Claudia Hammond meets Professor Cathy Creswell and Thalia Eley to discuss their extensive practical research helping parents to deal with their child's anxiety.

June 2016 Interview with Motherboard on research in therapygenetics and the EDITLab Thalia discusses how genetics can be used to predict whether a person with a mental illness will respond well to a certain psychological treatment.


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