Professor of Neuroscience and Society, University of Oxford
Cross-cutting theme lead: Patient Public Involvement (PPI)
Phone: 01865 912223
I hold a doctorate in human development and psychology from Harvard University; over the past decade I have added to these foundations through extensive work in bioethics and in sociology. I bring this interdisciplinary perspective to my current research through an approach known as empirical ethics.
My research focuses on the social and ethical dimensions of innovations in neuroscience, psychiatry and related areas. In the therapeutic realm, I am particularly interested in translational impacts for children and families. My outlook is local and global, with an emphasis on connecting contextual, empirical investigations with ethical analysis and policy deliberations (empirical ethics). I believe that good neuroscience ethics requires a firm grip on the science and the ethics, and that respect for patients and understanding of context make for good and relevant neuro-ethical contributions.
Much of my work reflects a longstanding commitment to bringing the first person experiences of children and young people into ethical evaluation, clinical decision-making and policy-making. To do this, colleagues and I develop and study innovative methods of data collection and data presentation using a range of approaches, including qualitative and quantitative methods, mobile technologies, video and virtual reality.
I lead the Neuroscience Ethics and Society group, based at the University of Oxford’s Department of Psychiatry (NeuroSec). We are involved in developing ethics research and guidance for a range of scientific and clinical studies in Oxford Psychiatry and Neuroscience, including projects in forensic psychiatry, bi-polar disorder, psychosis, anorexia nervosa and global child development. We also provide ethics advice and foresight analysis to projects involving ‘big neuro’ and personalised mental health.
I have contributed to various scientific and policy groups, including the UK National Institutes of Clinical Excellence (NICE), US National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) and the Nuffield Council on Bioethics.
Wellcome Senior Investigator for a project entitled: Becoming Good: Early Intervention and Moral Development in Child Psychiatry, 2015-2020. This project follows on from a Wellcome Trust university award for VOICES: Voices on Identity, Childhood, Ethics & Stimulants: Children join the debate. I am co-chair of the Ethics Advisory Board for the EU-AIMS project on autism treatments (www.eu-aims.eu) and an expert advisor for the National Autism Project.