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Improving Brain Health – the future in mind
NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre

Start
March 2017

Official opening of the Oxford Health BRC

Theme/Lead:

The NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre – a partnership between the University of Oxford and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust – was officially opened on 31 March in spring sunshine at the University of Oxford Department of Psychiatry. Nicola Blackwood MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health and Innovation, marked the occasion by unveiling a plaque.

March 2017

Using virtual reality to help persecutory delusions

Theme/Lead: Dan Freeman

Professor Daniel Freeman, consultant clinical psychologist at Oxford Health NHS Foundation, was awarded a major research grant to study how VR can help with persecutory delusions. Professor Freeman was awarded the grant together with his colleagues, Professors David Clark (University of Oxford), Mel Slater (University of Barcelona) and Graham Dunn (University of Manchester) and is part of the BRC precision psychological therapies theme.

June 2017

Oxford Health BRC on the World at One

Theme/Lead:

Oxford Health BRC theme leads, Professors Clare Mackay and Simon Lovestone, revealed details of the world’s biggest and most in-depth studies into dementia on BBC Radio 4’s World at One. Reporter, Andrew Bomford, visited the Oxford Centre for Human Brain Activity (OHBA) to hear about the Deep and Frequent Phenotyping Study and look in on an MRI scan – one of the wide range of tests that is part of the study.

June 2017

OxCADAT free resources for mental health disorders

Theme/Lead:

The Oxford Centre for Anxiety Disorders (OxCADAT) created a website of free resources and training videos for therapists on how to treat social anxiety disorder, panic disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder with the cognitive therapy programmes developed by the team

August 2017

IAPT "no cost therapy" profiled in New York Times

Theme/Lead: Precision Psychological Therapies

The initiative, ‘Improving Access to Psychological Therapies’ (IAPT) developed by University of Oxford’s Prof David Clark was profiled in an article in the NY Times. Featuring case studies from the Oxfordshire region, the article put a spotlight on the success of IAPT, delivered via the NHS, helping thousands of people across England access talking therapies.

February 2018

NIHR award to develop VR therapies for mental health

Theme/Lead: Dan Freeman

NIHR awarded £4 million to a project to enable state-of-the-art psychological therapy to be delivered via virtual reality (VR) in the NHS. The project, led by Professor Daniel Freeman brings together a team of NHS trusts, universities, a mental health charity, the Royal College of Art, and a University of Oxford spin-out company.

February 2018

Antidepressants more effective than placebo at treating acute depression

Theme/Lead: Andrea Cipriani

A meta-analysis of 522 trials published in The Lancet includes the largest amount of unpublished data to date, and finds that antidepressants are more effective than placebo for short-term treatment of acute depression in adults.

May 2018

PPI strategy and animated film launched

Theme/Lead: Ilina Singh

Alongside the the publication of our Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement Strategy, we launched a short animated film to answer key questions about our patient and public involvement work and our vision to embed it into our research themes.

August 2018

OxCEMM launched

Theme/Lead: Training

The first Oxford Short Course in Experimental Medicine for Mental Health (OxCEMM) launched, offering multi-disciplinary training in experimental medicine research, for pharmacists, basic scientists, allied health professionals and medical doctors at any career stage.

OxCEMM brochure
Feb 2019

Cannabis use raises risk of depression in young adults

Theme/Lead: Andrea Cipriani

A systematic review and meta-analysis showed that cannabis use among adolescents is associated with a significant increased risk of depression and suicidality in adulthood (not anxiety). While the individual-level risk was found to be modest, the widespread use of the drug by young people makes the scale of the risk much more serious.

April 2019

OHBA installs new MEG scanner system

Theme/Lead:

The Oxford Centre for Human Brain Activity (OHBA) became the first in Europe to acquire the latest technology in functional brain imaging. TRIUX™ neo, a magnetoencephalograph (MEG), is a highly sensitive non-invasive system for mapping the human brain.

June 2019

Akrivia Health launched

Theme/Lead:

Akrivia Health, a spinout from Oxford Health BRC, was developed as a sustainable way to accelerate the UK-CRIS programme. The UK-CRIS network operates a managed service for secure access to one of the world’s largest repositories of de-identified patient data relating to mental health and dementia conditions.

June 2019

gameChange clinical trial

Theme/Lead: Dan Freeman

The gameChange clinical trial was created to test a virtual reality (VR) based psychological therapy for people with severe mental health difficulties. gameChange is the largest ever clinical trial of virtual reality for a mental health disorder.

September 2019

Emerging Minds Network launched

Theme/Lead:

The Emerging Minds network launched with kick off events across the UK including Belfast, Glasgow, Bristol, Cambridge, Birmingham, Newcastle, London, Swansea and Manchester attended by over 250 researchers, practitioners lived experience experts and policy makers. The Network works across sectors and disciplines to reduce the prevalence of mental health problems experienced by children and young people.

Sept 2019

First Academic Writing Retreat

Theme/Lead: Training/ Cathy Henshall

Oxford Health BRC supported its first three day Academic Paper Writing Retreat for Nurses. The retreat was designed to provide uninterrupted time and space to write up a paper for submission to an academic journal.

Oct 2019

Oxford Precision Psychiatry Lab established

Theme/Lead: Andrea Cipriani

The Oxford Precision Psychiatry Lab is an international multidisciplinary group of researchers, clinicians (both psychiatrists and psychologists), statisticians, methodologists and students who are passionate about improving the lives of people with mental illness across the lifespan.

Precision Psychiatry Lab logo
Dec 2019

Link between calcium abnormality and bipolar disorder

Theme/Lead: Paul Harrison

A systematic review led by Professor Paul Harrison showed a link between an abnormality in cellular calcium levels and bipolar disorder. The result supports the possibility that drugs which target calcium ions might be of value in treating bipolar disorder.

Feb 2020

New photography exhibition showcases groundbreaking research

Theme/Lead:

Oxford Health BRC took part in an exhibition showcasing groundbreaking NIHR research has been launched in Oxford. ‘The Body Unlocked: how research is changing lives’ is an ongoing exhibition which features life-sized photographs of people who have taken part in studies, as well as researchers at work and microscopic images of cells and bacteria.

March 2020

Co-SPACE study launched

Theme/Lead: Cathy Creswell

The Co-SPACE study launched shortly after the beginning of the first UK lockdown. It was designed to track children and young people’s mental health throughout the COVID-19 crisis and identify the advice, support and help needed to protect their mental health. The study has gone on to produce multiple reports on the needs and experiences of children and families during the pandemic. It has received widespread media attention and been instrumental in policy making.

April 2020

Guidance for remote delivery of psychological therapies published

Theme/Lead: Anke Ehlers

The COVID-19 pandemic made it necessary to deliver psychological therapies remotely. Oxford Centre for Anxiety Disorders (OxCADAT) delivered NHS England workshops and therapist guidance for delivering psychological therapies for anxiety disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder and traumatic grief remotely and materials published on the free OxCADAT resources website.

May 2020

Genetic risk factors for mental illness affect how children’s brains are wired up

Theme/Lead: Paul Harrison

BRC research published in Molecular Psychiatry, shed light on the role of genetics in mental illness, suggesting that genes influence the way children’s brains are ‘wired up’. This difference in nerve connections within the brain serves as a ‘vulnerability network’ for later developing mental illness.

May 2020

New guidance and resources to help patients cope with trauma after intensive care

Theme/Lead: Precision Psychological Therapies

Oxford mental health researchers published new guidelines and free resources for treating patients experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following admission to an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

May 2020

Conspiracy theories and mistrust of government

Theme/Lead: Dan Freeman

A study funded by Oxford Health BRC and published in the journal Psychological Medicine, indicated that a disconcertingly high number of adults in England did not agree with the scientific and governmental consensus on the the coronavirus pandemic and that people who hold coronavirus conspiracy beliefs are less likely to comply with social distancing guidelines or take-up future vaccines.

June 2020

Evidence based guidance for mental health during the pandemic

Theme/Lead: Andrea Cipriani

Researchers from the Oxford Precision Psychiatry Lab responded to COVID-19 by creating vital evidence-based guidance for patients and clinicians managing mental health conditions during the pandemic. Frequently updated, this guidance summarises the best available clinical guidelines about key COVID-19 questions that are faced by frontline mental health professionals every day.

July 2020

SHAPE - Supporting Hospital and Paramedic Employees during and after COVID

Theme/Lead: Jen Wild

The SHAPE programme for healthcare workers was launched to support hospital and paramedic employees during and after COVID. The programme has provided support to 200 healthcare workers to date.

July 2020

PHOSP-COVID

Theme/Lead: John Geddes / Paul Harrison

Oxford Health BRC investigators took a lead role in PHOSP-COVID – a major UK research study which will investigate the long-term health impacts of COVID-19 on hospitalised patients. The Oxford Health team have provided expertise in mental health and neurological problems following COVID-19 infection.

August 2020

Brain Health Centre opens

Theme/Lead: Clare Mackay

The Oxford Brain Health Centre (BHC) opened its doors to patients for the first time in the midst of the pandemic. Developed with the involvement of members of the public with lived experience of memory problems, the centre is a combined clinical and research service. By embedding research in the NHS service, the Centre aims to help prepare the health system for the future of dementia treatment and prevention. This innovative and ambitious approach could become a model that can be adopted throughout the NHS.

Nov 2020

Link between COVID-19 and psychiatric diagnosis

Theme/Lead: Paul Harrison

Researchers from Oxford Health BRC reported the first large-scale evidence that COVID-19 survivors are at an increased risk of psychiatric disorders. The study, published in The Lancet Psychiatry, used the TriNetX electronic health records of 69 million people in the USA including over 62,000 cases of COVID-19 and received widespread international media coverage.

Nov 2020

Support for Novavax vaccine trial

Theme/Lead: CRF

More than 450 participants took part in a study by vaccine development company Novavax at the NIHR Oxford cognitive health Clinical Research Facility, one of 30 UK sites collaborating on the study.

Welcome to the Oxford cognitive health CRF.
December 2020

Opt-out approach to research benefits patients and staff

Theme/Lead:

A study undertaken by an interdisciplinary team at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and the Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre, showed that an ‘opt-out’ approach to research recruitment could benefit both clinical research and patient care.

Dec 2020

A third of UK population vaccine hesitant

Theme/Lead: Dan Freeman

A comprehensive study of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy showed a majority willing to be vaccinated but a substantial minority concerned. Oxford Health BRC Researchers surveyed a representative group of 5,114 UK adults about an approved COVID-19 vaccine for the NHS. Results indicated that 72% were willing to be vaccinated, 16% were very unsure, and 12% were strongly hesitant.

Feb 2021

BMJ blog: vaccine priority

Theme/Lead: Andrea Cipriani

A blog in thebmjopinion by mental health clinicians and researchers at Oxford Health BRC discussed COVID-19 vaccinations and where people with mental health difficulties lie within the order of priority.

March 2021

Transatlantic mental health partnership

Theme/Lead: Andrea Cipriani

A transatlantic partnership between Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, the University of Oxford, the University of Toronto and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto was formalised to enhance existing relationships between the universities and the two healthcare providers. The partnership will enable the development of key structures to facilitate collaboration and help realise the benefits of the complementary capabilities of the participating organisations.

April 2021

Blood clotting risk higher for COVID-19 than for vaccines

Theme/Lead: Paul Harrison

An Oxford Health BRC study reported that the risk of the rare blood clotting known as cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT) following COVID-19 infection is around 100 times greater than normal, several times higher than it is post-vaccination or following influenza.

April 2021

COVID-19 survivors at risk of neurological and psychiatric disorders

Theme/Lead: Paul Harrison

An Oxford Health BRC study showed 1 in 3 survivors of COVID-19 received a neurological or psychiatric diagnosis within 6 months. The risk was greater in people who had severe COVID-19, but 1 in 9 patients not requiring hospitalization, also received a diagnosis.

May 2021

Oxford cognitive health Clinical Research Facility celebrates ICTD

Theme/Lead: CRF

The Oxford cognitive health Clinical Research Facility celebrated International Clinical Trials Day with a new video showcasing the Facility and its capabilities.

May 2021

Involving young people with research

Theme/Lead: Ilina Singh

Throughout the pandemic the Oxford Health BRC PPI team have focussed on involving young people with our research, ensuring that their views and priorities have continued to be recognised. Working with the NEUROSEC/NeurOX Young People’s Advisory Group (YPAG) of more than 30 young people aged 14-18, there has been particular emphasis on digital approaches which has helped make involvement opportunities more inclusive.

June 2021

Professor Catherine Harmer on BBC Radio 4 podcast

Theme/Lead:

Professor Catherine Harmer appeared on the BBC Radio 4 podcast ‘Made of Stronger Stuff’ challenging misconceptions about depression and providing up-to-date information on what serotonin does in the brain.

Catherine Harmer
June 2021

Abu Dhabi - Oxford Psychiatry Collaboration

Theme/Lead:

This Abu Dhabi – Oxford Psychiatry partnership has been established to create a cross-regional collaboration model for translational research and digital innovation in mental health. The partnership has been formalised between four signatories: Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA), Khalifa University of Science and Technology (KU), Akrivia Health and the University of Oxford.

July 2021

Mentoring young scientists at Oxford Health BRC

Theme/Lead: Cath Harmer

Oxford Health BRC took part in the In2Science programme. This is a scheme that gives young people from a range of backgrounds the opportunity to spend time with and learn from people working in research and to find out more about a career in science. Dr Jessica Scaife, a postdoctoral researcher at the Oxford Health BRC, mentored 3 young people as part of the programme.

July 2021

AIMday launches new experimental medicine industry hub

Theme/Lead: Cath Harmer

Researchers at Oxford Health BRC created a new hub to foster collaboration with industry in the field of experimental medicine, helping to accelerate the rate at which new treatments can begin to benefit patients. The Experimental Medicine Industry Partnership (EMIP) was launched at an online Academic Industry Meeting Day (AIMday) in July 2021. The event was captured in a series of mini blogs authored by early career researchers who attended the event.

AIM Day
September 2021

Over a third of COVID patients diagnosed with one long covid symptom

Theme/Lead: Paul Harrison

An Oxford Health BRC study showed that 37% of people had at least one long-COVID symptom diagnosed in the 3-6 month period after COVID-19 infection, with the commonest symptoms being breathing problems, abdominal symptoms, fatigue, pain and anxiety/depression. The Study investigated long-COVID in over 270,000 people recovering from COVID-19 infection, using data from the US-based TriNetX electronic health record network

Oct 2021

Oxfordshire young people involved in childline research project

Theme/Lead: Ilina Singh

Research conducted by the Neuroscience, Ethics and Society group, NeurOX Young People’s Advisory Group, Oxford Health BRC and the NSPCC, has looked at how Childline’s message boards help support young people. The research found that using the Childline message boards could reduce young people’s emotional distress and increase their willingness to seek outside help.

Young person in a fluffy jumper and jeans sitting on stairs using mobile phone viewed from over right shoulder.
January 2022

Preliminary findings show ‘count me in’ is making research more inclusive at Oxford Health

Theme/Lead:

‘Count me in’ was launched in August 2021 after Oxford Health BRC studies showed that asking clinical staff to collect research contact consent was resulting in a low uptake from patients, and that both staff and patients favoured an approach that allowed all patients to be contacted about relevant research unless they had opted out. Preliminary findings published in a letter published in the journal Evidence Based Mental Health showed the project is having a positive effect on research recruitment.

February 2022

Diversity in Research Group

Theme/Lead:

The Oxford and Oxford Health BRCs Diversity in Research Group met in person for the first time to celebrate the important contributions from the group to health research throughout the pandemic. The event provided an opportunity for members to meet each other, staff and to celebrate the group’s contributions.

March 2022

New funding for Oxford Health Clinical Research Facility

Theme/Lead:

The Oxford Health Clinical Research Facility (OH CRF) has been awarded more than £4 million over the next five years by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The OH CRF is one of 28 facilities across England to benefit from nearly £161 million that has been awarded to expand early phase clinical research delivery in NHS hospitals.

April 2022

Breakthrough success in provision of automated psychological therapy using virtual reality

Theme/Lead:

Results from the gameChange study published in The Lancet Psychiatry have shown that psychological therapy can be automated in virtual reality. The study, led by Professor Daniel Freeman, is the largest ever clinical trial of VR for mental health. With the user guided by a virtual coach there is no need for a real life therapist, meaning treatment can reach many more patients.