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Sylvane Desrivières joined King's in 2005, having received a PhD from the University of Paris VII. She has held positions from the University of Basel, the German Cancer research Centre in Heidelberg and the Institute for Tumour Biology and Experimental Therapy in Frankfurt. 

She is member of several large international consortia, heading Genetics Working Groups on longitudinal neuroimaging x genetics adolescent cohorts in Europe (IMAGEN Consortium) and India (Consortium on Vulnerability to Externalizing Disorders and Addictions –c-VEDA). She also leads Epigenetics Working Group of the international Enhancing NeuroImaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis consortium (ENIGMA). 

Research interests:

  • Eating disorders: aetiology and underlying disease mechanisms  
  • Genomic bases of brain structure and function 
  • Aetiology of reinforcement-related disorders 

Her early work centred on molecular mechanisms of disease in model systems. She then became interested in studying disease mechanisms in human populations and in the living human brain and went on combining genetics with neuroimaging, working with colleagues in psychiatry, psychology and computer science. This resulted in a remarkable portfolio of novel discoveries such as genes influencing brain structure and function and an overall better understanding of the aetiology of addiction to alcohol and other drugs. 

Her current work asks how and why some people develop an eating disorder, and why others do not. 

She would welcome applications from prospective research students interested in working in any of these areas. 

Expertise and Public Engagement:

She has worked closely with charities (i.e., the Medical Research Foundation) and with media companies to ensure that eating disorders are well understood by the public. For example, I have engaged in dissemination activities as part of the Eating Disorders Awareness Week to assist in raising awareness and reducing stigma for patients with eating disorders. A Questions & Answer based interview highlighting the significance of our work was published on the Medical Research Foundation’s website and on social media, which was liked and retweeted in beyond the UK. and-events  


Sylvane contributes to postgraduate taught programmes in Genes, Environment & Development in Psychology & Psychiatry (GED PP) and Neuroscience as well as to undergraduate teaching in Psychology.