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Paul Harrison

MA, BM. BCh, DM (Oxon), FRCPsych


Professor of Psychiatry

  • Associate Head of Department (Research);
  • Head of Translational Neurobiology Group
  • Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust

Neurobiology and experimental medicine of bipolar disorder

Biography

My research addresses several aspects of translational neuroscience relevant to bipolar disorder and related conditions. It is funded mainly by grants from the Wellcome Trust and Medical Research Council. The research is a team effort, relying on the expertise and commitment of many exceptional colleagues and collaborators, both in the Department and elsewhere.

An important starting point for the work is that many genes which affect risk of developing these disorders have been identified, but much less is known about how, why, and when, these factors increase risk. Underlying my research is the assumption that they operate to affect brain development, plasticity, and function, and our work is designed to investigate and clarify this. I have a particular interest in the risk genes which represent potential treatment targets. Genes of interest at present include CACNA1C, catechol-O-methyl transferase (COMT) and GRM3 (mGlu3).

As well as neurobiological research into genetic mechanisms, I am involved in several more clinically focused projects related to bipolar disorder, including functional neuroimaging (using fMRI and MEG), experimental medicine, and randomised clinical trials. For example, we are studying the acute effects of a COMT inhibitor on emotional processing and the brain's response to stress, and the effects of a calcium channel antagonist drug on cognition, sleep, and brain activity in people with mood instability.  

I trained in medicine and psychiatry in Oxford and London, and was a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow before being appointed to my present post in 1997. I was awarded a Chair in 2000. I have published almost 300 papers (Scopus h-index 64), and several books, including The Neuropathology of Schizophrenia, The Shorter Oxford Textbook of Psychiatry, Lecture Notes: Psychiatry, and Schizophrenia with Daniel Weinberger. My clinical work centres on bipolar disorder and treatment-resistant mood disorder. I am a Deputy Editor for Biological Psychiatry. I have served on various Wellcome and MRC funding committees and chaired an NHS Research Ethics Committee. I have supervised 22 DPhils. Awards include the CINP/Paul Janssen Schizophrenia Prize (1998), the British Association for Psychopharmacology Senior Clinical Prize (1999), the A.E. Bennett Award of the Society of Biological Psychiatry (2004), the Joel Elkes Research Award of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (2005), the CINP Lilly Clinical Neuroscience award (2010), and the ECNP Clinical Neuropsychopharmacology award (2012). I am current Past President of the British Association for Psychopharmacology.

 I am Theme Leader for Adult Mental Health in the new NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre, and a Group Leader in the new Oxford Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging. I hold an Adjunct Faculty position at the Lieber Institute of Brain Development in Baltimore.

 

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Courses

Direct Entry Research Degrees Doctoral Training Centre Degrees