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11 May 2023

Professor Valeria Mondelli delivers IoPPN Inaugural Lecture 'Body-mind interaction in a galaxy far far away...May the 4th be with you '

The sixth inaugural lecture of the 2022/23 IoPPN Inaugural Lecture Series, entitled 'Body-mind interaction in a galaxy far far away...May the 4th be with you’ was delivered by Professor Valeria Mondelli on Thursday 4 May 2023 to a packed audience at the Wolfson Lecture Theatre.

Valeria Mondelli Inaugural

Valeria Mondelli is Clinical Professor of Psychoneuroimmunology at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN), King’s College London, and Liaison Consultant Psychiatrist at King’s College Hospital. Her research interest focuses on the interplay between physical and mental health and on the role of biological systems involved in the stress response (e.g. the immune system) in the pathogenesis of psychiatric disorders. She is currently co-lead of the Psychosis and Mood Disorders Theme at the NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre (BRC). 

Professor Sir Simon Wessely, Interim Executive Dean and Regius Professor of Psychiatry opened the lecture with his welcome speech, interspersed with laughs and the Star Wars theme tune.  

After having obtained her medical degree and specialty degree in psychiatry at the University of Turin in Italy, she moved to London in 2005 where she obtained her PhD in Psychological Medicine in 2009. She was then awarded a NIHR Clinical Lectureship and continued to conduct her research and clinical work between the IoPPN and the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.

Star Wars

As the 4th of May is Star Wars Day, Valeria weaved in Star Wars analogies throughout her lecture, describing the immune system as a Jedi Knight, fighting illness with its weapons, Cytokines. She compared meeting Carmine Pariante as meeting her Obi One Kenobi, her home planet as the department of Psychological Medicine, the NIHR Maudsley BRC as the Millenium Falcon, and the Jedis in training and the Rebel Alliance as her students and colleagues, past and present.

It has been an evening that I will always remember. It has been a pleasure to share with everyone in the audience my academic journey, from the first steps of my medical and research career in Italy to the important new research discoveries achieved here at King’s with the support of many wonderful students and colleagues about the link between the immune system and mental health problems. I am now looking forward to next chapter of this amazing “saga” to support the development of more effective and personalised treatments for people suffering from depression and psychosis.

Professor Valeria Mondelli, Clinical Professor of Psychoneuroimmunology at the IoPPN and Liaison Consultant Psychiatrist at King’s College Hospital

Over the past few years, Valeria has co-led an international global mental health project aiming to identify adolescents at high risk of depression at an early stage (IDEA project) with the ultimate goal of reducing the onset of depression in adolescence. She is currently continuing her work with the consortium investigating the role of the immune system in the development of depression in adolescence.

The vote of thanks was delivered by Carmine Pariante, Professor of Biological Psychiatry who thanked Valeria on behalf of her students, her colleagues and research committees; "you are a much-loved colleague and supervisor and you make the IoPPN a better place".

I have been so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with Valeria over so many years. She always has creative research ideas; for example, she was the first to examine the role of inflammation in the course, outcome and neurobiology of psychosis, almost 20 years ago. She is an amazing friend and an outstanding colleague.

Professor Carmine Pariante, Professor of Biological Psychiatry, King's IoPPN

To view previous lectures and to find out about upcoming lectures in the Inaugural Lectures series, please visit Inaugural Lectures.

In this story

Valeria Mondelli

Clinical Professor of Psychoneuroimmunology

Carmine Pariante

Professor of Biological Psychiatry