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Professor Philip Cowen has been awarded renewal of his MRC programme grant which investigates the psychopharmacology of depression.

Prof Cowen has held MRC programme support since 1993 and during this time his group have played a key role establishing how the neurotransmitter, serotonin, is involved  in the pathophysiology and treatment of clinical depression. The current award continues the focus on serotonin through a collaboration with the IMANOVA PET centre at the  Hammersmith Hospital where measures of serotonin release in vivo are being developed in collaboration with a previous member of this Department, Dr Sudhakar Selvaraj. In Oxford, Prof Cowen’s group will use the new 7 Tesla imaging system at FMRIB to examine the role of glutamate and its interaction with serotonin in patients with depression. They will also use MR imaging to identify the effects of inflammation on brain neurochemistry  by studying patients with hepatitis C undergoing treatment with the natural cytokine, interferon (treatment with interferon can often lead to depressive symptoms). The latter study will be carried out in collaboration with Dr Ellie Barnes (Nuffield Department of Medicine). A better understanding of the links between depression and inflammation is expected to lead to some novel treatments for people with the refractory mood disorders.


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