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Adam Al-Diwani

DPhil Student: From January 2017

Adam is a psychiatrist in training taking time out of his clinical programme to complete a 3 year Wellcome DPhil Training Fellowship, supported by the Oxford Biomedical Research Centre. He is supervised by Belinda Lennox in Psychiatry and Sarosh Irani in NDCN in collaboration with Charlie Stagg and her team in OHBA/FMRIB. 

Adam's research focuses on a group of conditions called autoimmune encephalitis, which are caused by antibodies that target crucial synaptic signalling molecules including NMDA, AMPA, and GABA receptors.  Patients will frequently present to psychiatrists with rapidly developing alterations in mental state including psychosis, anxiety and mood changes such as mania and depression, before later developing ‘neurological’ features such as seizures, movement disorders and coma. Rather than being mere markers of the disease state, it is fairly clear that in these patients that ‘neuronal surface antibodies' are directly responsible for the disease.  However there is an emerging group of patients with the same antibodies with a psychiatric illness only. Treatment decisions here are challenging and Adam is interested in developing biomarkers to inform clinical management.

His research will compare people with NMDA receptor antibodies with autoimmune encephalitis to psychosis only, and to psychosis only without the antibodies. Alongside laboratory immunology, he plans to use multi-modal MRI techniques on a cohort entering a randomised controlled trial of immunotherapy, to explore differences in network connectivity between these groups at baseline and whether this is improved with immunotherapy differentially to placebo.


Visiting Researcher (Osler Travel Grant): Autumn 2016, Spring 2017

Julia Nantes is a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholar and PhD candidate in the Integrated Program in Neuroscience at McGill University. Her work in our group is to investigate the neurophysiology of anti-NMDA receptor mediated encephalitis, in collaboration with Sarosh Irani.  Julia will be using ultra-high field MR imaging and spectroscopy to investigate the pathophysiology of the disorder.

Find out more about Julia's research within our group here.

Elisabeth rounis

Elisabeth is a Clinical Lecturer in Neurology who will be joining the group from February.

Find out more about her research here