RESEARCH OUTPUT: Publication record includes >100 peer-reviewed articles in journals such as Molecular Psychiatry, Biological Psychiatry, Brain, Lancet and Nature Neuroscience. H index= 46.
RESEARCH INTERESTS: My main area of research is linking neuroimaging techniques with underlying biology in a bottom-up approach in order to better understand debilitating neuropsychiatric disorders. My research focuses on how causal factors (such as rare and common genetic variants) contribute to disease in terms of their impact on brain structure and function using large samples. Since the origin of the majority of psychiatric disorders is considered to be during adolescence, also a sensitive neurodevelopmental period, I also focus research on examining neurobiological impacts of risk factors during this critical period. Finally, due to the untapped area of routinely collected electronic health record data, I am also interested in maximising these datasets to explore links between common neurological/physical health conditions and mental health to inform functional recovery in these conditions. Ongoing studies include:
Psychiatric & genetic imaging:
- Maximising large imaging and genetic samples (UK Biobank, Generation Scotland)
- Exploring biologically focussed effects of cumulative genetic loading on brain structure and function
- Using genetic instruments to explore causal relationships between traits of interest
Adolescent / youth mental health:
- Ongoing secondary school-based studies including psychological testing and biological sampling (hair/saliva; cortisol, inflammatory markers, DNA and DNAm).
- Active lobbying of Scottish Governement to include biological sampling and mental health questionnaires in longitidinal birth cohort samples (linked health/education infrastructure in place)
- Member of academic advisory board for Growing Up In Scotland (Goverment funded birth cohort)
- Data linkage in progress for Scottish Bipolar Family longitudinal imaging study to maximise baseline samples now >10 years after initiation of study.
Data science & links between common neurological/physical conditions and mental health.
- As part of the Edinburgh MRC Data Pathfinder project (PI of exemplar), I am putting procedures in place for linking routinely collected imaging data with routine psychiatric clinical data to identify the relationships between common physical and mental health conditions (using post stroke depression as proof of principle).
- I am also involved in mechanistic studies using imaging to understand links between chronic pain and mood.