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Department of Psychiatry Logo

Even in the midst of a pandemic the Department of Psychiatry has continued to flourish. Professor John Geddes was appointed to the WA Handley Professor of Psychiatry, where he has committed to bring the same urgency, widespread collaboration and intellectual inspiration to bear on mental health as Oxford has done during the course of the pandemic. Emeritus Professor Christopher Fairburn was recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours list and awarded an OBE for services to psychological treatments and the treatment of eating disorders. He founded the Centre for Research on Eating Disorders (CREDO) at Oxford in 1986.

We have ended the year with a new Head of Department in post, Professor Belinda Lennox, who has worked in the department since 2012. Her belief is that the role of the department is to make rapid and dramatic advances in the prevention and treatment of mental illness.

We have seen the recognition of Mina Fazel, Professor of Adolescent Psychiatry, Morten Kringelbach, Professor of Neuroscience, and Mike Browning, Professor of Computational Psychiatry, who have all been conferred the title of full Professor in the 2021 Recognition of Distinction Exercise in the University of Oxford. We have also seen the recognition of Laurence Hunt who has been conferred the title of Associate Professor. He leads the Cognitive Computational Neuroscience lab at the Oxford Centre for Human Brain Activity (OHBA) and is funded by a Sir Henry Dale Fellowship from the Royal Society and Wellcome Trust.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) investment into improving the mental health and wellbeing of adolescents in the UK

This year funding secured from the UK Research and Innovation investment into improving the mental health and wellbeing of adolescents in the UK has marked the beginning of several highly innovative research projects. Professor Kam Bhui is leading the ATTUNE project, which aims to understand mechanisms and mental health impacts of Adverse Childhood Experiences and to co-design preventative arts and digital interventions. This project has received £3.8m from the UKRI investment. Professor Eunice Ma from Falmouth University is a co-principal investigator.

Professor Cathy Creswell is a co-applicant on the Adolescent Mental Health and Development in the Digital World project, which has been awarded £3.9m by UKRI. The four-year research programme will address the major societal challenge of building a safe and supportive online environment with the aim of preventing or reducing the emergence of depression, anxiety and self-harm in young people. The project is led by Professors Chris Hollis and Ellen Townsend at Nottingham University.

Professor Kate Saunders and visiting Professor Anne Duffy are co-applicants on a multi-site, multidisciplinary four-year study involving six UK universities, which aims to develop and evaluate a set of evidence-based and complementary support plans to improve university study, mental health and wellbeing. The project has been awarded £3.7m by UKRI and it is led by Professor Edward Watkins at the University of Exeter. Oxford is a lead site in the project.

Innovation through research funding

Professor Bhui is leading Co-PACT, an Experience-based investigation and Co-design of approaches to Prevent and reduce Mental Health Act Use. The project has received funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Policy Research programme.

Professor Andrea Cipriani is leading a team to deliver an Oxford project using artificial intelligence to develop digital triage tools for mental health clinicians, entitled CHRONOS. The project is supported by the second wave of the NHS AI Lab's AI in Health and Care Award. It is being developed with the NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre (BRC).

Professor Ilina Singh is leading the UK Pandemic Ethics Accelerator, a collaborative of world-leading researchers investigating how we should evaluate decisions made during the COVID-19 pandemic and the future response to pandemic threats. The Ethics Accelerator receives core funding (£1.4m) from the Arts and Humanities Research Council as part of UKRI's COVID-19 funding.