BA (Hons), MBChB (Leeds), MRCPsych, MD (Res), FHEA
NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer
- Junior Research Fellow, Wolfson College
Depression in the elderly is common, but still under-recognised. It causes severe changes in people’s function and ability to live independently, and leads to increased mortality. I am interested in the question of why people with no previous history of depression become depressed in late-life. This can't be fully explained by social changes (e.g. retirement, bereavement and physical illness) and it is becoming clear that biological factors related to ageing have an important role in late-onset depression -- the same risk factors that predispose to heart disease may also affect brain structure and function, increasing the risk of depression.
My research is part of the Whitehall Imaging project and spans a range of disciplines from epidemiology, medicine and psychiatry, to neuroscience and brain imaging. I am using multi-modal magnetic resonance imaging to investigate whether life-time risk factors change brain structure and function, making people more vulnerable to depression and dementia. I am recruiting participants from the Whitehall II Study at University College London (UCL), who have been followed up for 25 years and have a wealth of prospective data on cardiovascular and other risk factors relevant to depression and cognitive changes (including dementia).
As an Academic Clinical Lecturer in Old Age Psychiatry, teaching is an important part of my role. I lecture on the Oxford MRCPsych course and to medical students at Oxford University Medical School. I have extended my core teaching roles by developing the Oxford Psychiatry Podcast Series (https://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/series/psychiatry) and "Psychiatry and the Arts", a collaboration with the Ashmolean Museum.
I am undertaking advanced clinical training as a registrar (ST6) in Old Age Psychiatry at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust (Older adults inpatient services) and Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (Psychological Medicine). Previously I have undertaken clinical placements in old age inpatient and community settings, in both Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. In 2011 I was awarded Royal College of Psychiatry Core Trainee of the Year.
Behrman S. et al, (2015), The Encyclopedia of Adulthood and Aging
Resilience and MRI correlates of cognitive impairment in community-dwelling elders.
Topiwala A. et al, (2015), Br J Psychiatry, 207, 435 - 439
Interleukin-6 as a predictor of symptom resolution in psychological distress: a cohort study.
Virtanen M. et al, (2015), Psychol Med, 45, 2137 - 2144
Cognitive Resilience and a Potential Compensatory Mechanism
Topiwala A. et al, (2015), BIOLOGICAL PSYCHIATRY, 77
Lifetime hypertension as a predictor of brain structure in older adults: cohort study with a 28-year follow-up.
Allan CL. et al, (2015), Br J Psychiatry, 206, 308 - 315