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).
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
DPhil, MA, DipLATHE
Associate Head of Department (People and Culture), Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience
- Research Fellow at Corpus Christi College
Read our Mental Elf blog on SSRIs and Psychotherapy for adolescent depression
Watch our short video on SSRI treatment in young people, as part of the Wellcome Trust Commission on active ingredients
Hear me chat about serotonin on 'Stronger Stuff'
Follow us on twitter @OxfordPERL
Experimental Medicine Hub
We have launched our NIHR BRC experimental medicine hub linking academia and industry to facilitate the use of experimental medicine approaches for treatment development - Experimental Medicine Industry Partnership (EMIP). See our AIM day blogs for our launch event
AI-based dimensional neuroimaging system for characterizing heterogeneity in brain structure and function in major depressive disorder: COORDINATE-MDD consortium design and rationale.
Fu CHY. et al, (2023), BMC Psychiatry, 23
The effect of attention bias modification on depressive symptoms in a comorbid sample: a randomized controlled trial.
Bø R. et al, (2023), Psychol Med, 1 - 8
Pharmacological targeting of cognitive impairment in depression: recent developments and challenges in human clinical research.
Colwell MJ. et al, (2022), Transl Psychiatry, 12
Can You Feel the Burn? Using Neuroimaging to Illuminate the Mechanisms of Mindfulness Interventions for Pain.
Gillespie A. and Harmer CJ., (2022), Am J Psychiatry, 179, 705 - 707
A co-produced online cultural experience compared to a typical museum website for mental health in people aged 16-24: A proof-of-principle randomised controlled trial.
Syed Sheriff RJ. et al, (2022), Aust N Z J Psychiatry
Statins in depression: a repurposed medical treatment can provide novel insights in mental health
De giorgi R., (2022), International Review of Psychiatry
Mindfulness Training Changes Brain Dynamics During Depressive Rumination: A Randomized Controlled Trial.
van der Velden AM. et al, (2022), Biol Psychiatry
Using a generative model of affect to characterize affective variability and its response to treatment in bipolar disorder.
Pulcu E. et al, (2022), Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 119
No Association Between Amygdala Responses to Negative Faces and Depressive Symptoms: Cross-Sectional Data from 28,638 Individuals in the UK Biobank Cohort.
Tamm S. et al, (2022), Am J Psychiatry, 179, 509 - 513