Professor of Psychiatry, University of Oxford
Theme lead: Adult mental health
Phone: 01865 618 329
My research addresses several aspects of translational neuroscience relevant to bipolar disorder and related conditions. I am Head of the Translational Neurobiology Group at the University of Oxford’s Department of Psychiatry.
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 about 280 papers (Scopus h-index 63), 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.
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 currently Past President of the British Association for Psychopharmacology (2014-2016). I hold an Adjunct Faculty position at the Lieber Institute of Brain Development in Baltimore. I am Group Leader on the new Oxford Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging, and Co-Director, Oxford Wellcome mental health doctoral training scheme. I am a Deputy Editor for Biological Psychiatry.
View Paul Harrison’s profile on the Department of Psychiatry website.