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Paul Harrison

MA, BM. BCh, DM (Oxon), FRCPsych

Professor of Psychiatry

  • Associate Head of Department (Research)
  • Co-chair, Oxford Neuroscience Committee
  • Head of Translational Neurobiology Group
  • Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust
  • Governing Body Fellow, Wolfson College

Translational neurobiology and experimental medicine of psychiatric disorders

My research addresses several aspects of translational psychiatric neuroscience. It has been funded mainly by grants from the Medical Research Council, Wellcome Trust, and NIHR. The research is a team effort, relying on the expertise and commitment of many exceptional colleagues and collaborators in the Department, elsewhere in the Medical Sciences Division, and beyond Oxford. 

An important starting point for the work is that many genes which affect risk of developing psychiatric disorders have been identified, but much less is known about how, why, and when, these factors increase risk. Underlying my research is the assumption that they operate to affect brain development, plasticity, and function, and our work is designed to investigate this. I have a particular interest in the risk genes which represent potential treatment targets, such as voltage-gated calcium channels

As well as neurobiological research into genetic mechanisms, I am involved in several clinically focused projects, including functional neuroimaging (using fMRI and MEG), experimental medicine, and randomised clinical trials. For example, we are studying the effects of a calcium channel antagonist on cognition, sleep, and brain activity in people with mood instability. I am also involved in systematic reviews and meta-analyses, and conduct large-scale pharmacoepidemiological studies. Reflecting recent events, we are now also actively involved in research  into the psychiatric and neuropsychiatric sequelae of Covid-19.

I trained in medicine and psychiatry in Oxford and London, and was a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow before being appointed to my present post in 1997. I was awarded a Chair in 2000. I have published over 330 papers (Scopus h-index 73), and several books, including The Neuropathology of Schizophrenia, The Shorter Oxford Textbook of Psychiatry, Lecture Notes: Psychiatry, and Schizophrenia with Daniel Weinberger. My clinical work centres on bipolar disorder and treatment-resistant mood disorder. I am a Deputy Editor for Biological Psychiatry and Global Open Science. I have served on various Wellcome and MRC funding committees and chaired an NHS Research Ethics Committee. I have supervised 22 DPhils. Awards include the CINP/Paul Janssen Schizophrenia Prize (1998), the British Association for Psychopharmacology Senior Clinical Prize (1999), the A.E. Bennett Award of the Society of Biological Psychiatry (2004), the Joel Elkes Research Award of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (2005), the CINP Lilly Clinical Neuroscience award (2010), and the ECNP Clinical Neuropsychopharmacology award (2012). I was President of the British Association for Psychopharmacology (2014-2016). I led Oxford's REF2014 and REF2021 Unit of Assessment 4 submissions. 

I am Theme Leader for Adult Mental Health in the NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre, and a Group Leader in the Oxford Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging. I hold an Adjunct Faculty position at the Lieber Institute of Brain Development in Baltimore. 


Key publications

Recent publications

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