Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Current Research

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).

External Positions

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

Catherine Harmer


Associate Head of Department (People and Culture), Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience

  • Research Fellow at Corpus Christi College

External Links

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

Recent publications

More publications