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Biography

I am a psychiatric geneticist who works on the genetics of affective (mood) disorders, psychosis and eating disorders. One of the most important goals for my research is to discover the biological basis of common psychiatric disorders, which will allow better drug discovery and biomarker studies in mental health. Not only that but they can also be used to improve estimations of response to psychological treatments and to help improve clinical trial approaches. Because someone’s DNA sequence does not change after diagnosis or treatment, genetics is often the best approach for this. 

I am heavily involved in a number of international genetic consortia which are driving the field of psychiatric genetics forward at a faster pace than ever before, with more than 500 variants for common psychiatric disorders recently discovered. 

I am currently running The Genetic Links to Anxiety and Depression or GLAD study with my close collaborator Prof Thalia Eley. You can hear us talking about the study here, and can watch an animation about the study here. I lead the NIHR Mental Health BioResource, of which GLAD is the first study, which aims to recruit >100,000 participants in the next 5 years. I am a theme lead in the NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre. 

Research interests:

  • Eating disorders 
  • Mood disorders 
  • Genetics systems biology 

Expertise and Public Engagement:

I frequently take part in radio and TV on psychiatric genetics and as a consulted expert by the media when new findings come out. I work with charities including the Beat eating disorders charity in the UK and have worked with many others in designing and carrying out the PR campaign for our new National Mental Health BioResource. Our first project in this is the Genetic Links to Anxiety and Depression or GLAD project, which has been joint work with Thalia Eley, has recruited 20,000 in the first three months of the study and which has also been – perhaps - the most prominent psychiatric genetics recruitment study in the new era of social media (www.gladstudy.org.uk). 

Research groups:

Translational and Neuropsychiatric Genetics Group