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Current Research

I am the director of the Psychopharmacology and Emotional Research Lab (PERL) based at the University Department of Psychiatry in Oxford. We are a multi-disciplinary team including cognitive neuroscientists, psychiatrists, psychopharmacologists and psychologists.

We focus on the psychological mechanisms of antidepressant drug action with conventional and novel candidate treatments, challenging the typical division between these different approaches. To do this, we apply an experimental medicine approach, focused on neurocognitive measures of emotional processing in both healthy volunteers and patient samples. 

This research helps to integrate psychological and pharmacological views of depression and treatment and has challenged the way in which we typically consider drug treatment for depression to work (see Harmer et al 2017). In addition this research has led to the development of human experimental models to explore the effects of  novel drugs for the treatment of depression and anxiety. This work has also been applied in the clinic to provide an earlier marker of SSRI non-response in primary care (Browning et al., 2021).

External Positions

Executive Committee Officer,  European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP)

Council, British Neuroscience Association (BNA)

NIHR panel Research and Innovation for Global Health Transformation panel member

Wellcome Trust Expert Review Panellist (2016-2019)

Associate Editor for Psychological Medicine

Editorial board membership Biological Psychiatry and Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging

Catherine Harmer

DPhil, MA, DipLATHE


Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience

  • Research Fellow at Corpus Christi College

External Links

Read our Mental Elf blog on SSRIs and Psychotherapy for adolescent depression

 https://www.nationalelfservice.net/treatment/

antidepressants/antidepressants-and-

psychotherapy-for-adolescent-depression-

can-they-be-compared-activeingredientsmh/

Watch our short video on SSRI treatment in young people, as part of the Wellcome Trust Commission on active ingredients

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hL4q1R53CWI

Hear me chat about serotonin on 'Stronger Stuff'

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/

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Follow us on twitter @OxfordPERL

Experimental Medicine Hub

We will be hosting an AIMday in Experimental Medicine in Psychiatry on Wednesday 7th July 2021. This event will bring together academic excellence from across the University of Oxford together with industry to help answer the most pressing challenges in this area, as identified by industry.

This day marks the launch of our NIHR BRC experimental medicine hub linking academia and industry to facilitate the use of experimental medicine approaches for treatment development

AIM day Link