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Biography

I joined King’s College London in January 2017 as Professor of Global Mental Health, and Director of the Centre for Global Mental Health, a joint research and education initiative between the IoPPN and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. 

My field of expertise is in the development and implementation of simple and affordable interventions to treat mental disorders, particularly in resource-poor settings. I previously developed a model of care to treat common mental disorders, which has been adapted and used in several middle and low-income countries. I have a leading role in major initiatives to increase mental research capacity in Latin America and Africa. 

I qualified in Medicine at Universidad de Chile in 1982 and became a Member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 1987. Shortly after qualifying, I joined the South London and the Maudsley and the Bethlem Royal Hospital rota, initially as a Clinical Associate, and afterwards as a Registrar/Senior Registrar. I returned to Chile in 1992 to work as a Senior Scientific Advisor at the Ministry of Health and subsequently Director of the Primary Care Evaluation Unit. I was Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychiatry, Universidad de Chile, from 1995 to 1999, then I moved back to the UK to take on the role of Senior Lecturer at the University of Wales until 2002. I was awarded my PhD at the Institute of Psychiatry in 2000 and was appointed Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Bristol from 2002 to 2013; then Professor of Global Mental Health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine from 2013 to 2017 before joining the Health Service and Population Research Department at King’s College London.  

A study undertaken by my team and published in the Lancet – Treating depression in primary care in low-income women in Santiago, Chile: a randomised controlled trial; 2003 – paved the way to the introduction of the first National Depression Treatment Programme in Primary Care in Chile. This model of care has been adapted and replicated in India, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Colombia, Brazil, Peru, and Lebanon. 

Research Interests 

  • The study of common mental disorders in primary health care and in the community 
  • Treatment of common mental disorders 
  • Aetiology of mental disorders 

Teaching

I teach the Theory to Practice module at the MSc in Global Mental Health: 

  • Implementation Frameworks 
  • Scaling-up interventions 
  • Case studies

Expertise and Public Engagement 

  • I am a member of the editorial board of the British Journal of Psychiatry. 
  • I was a panel member of the Joint Global Health Trials (Wellcome Trust, MRC, DfID) Panel for 5 years. 
  • I sit in different Research panels for Medical Research Council (MRC).