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Susannah Murphy

Susannah Murphy

Susannah Murphy

BA (Hons), MSc, DPhil

Associate Professor

I have a cross-disciplinary research profile combining expertise in psychology, neuroimaging, psychopharmacology, and neuroscience.My research uses a translational experimental medicine approach to provide an early assessment of novel treatment approaches in humans.  By developing and using proximal intermediate outcomes, such as the early effect of a treatment on key cognitive processes, it is possible to characterise the likely mechanisms of a novel treatment target and predict later treatment efficacy.  This approach is particularly important in psychiatric treatment development, since current animal models have low predictive validity and experimental medicine models can therefore provide critical evidence to translate preclinical findings and support decision making about future drug development.

I have active programs of work, funded by the Medical Research Council, characterising the neuropsychological effects of a number of novel antidepressant targets (including ketamine and the 5-HT4 receptor). I also work with a number of pharmaceutical companies who recognise the value of deploying this experimental medicine approach in the drug development process. 

I completed my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at the University of St Andrews in 2004.  I then came to Oxford to complete an MSc and DPhil in Neuroscience, funded by a four year Wellcome Trust Studentship in Neuroscience.  My DPhil (2008) was supervised by Catherine Harmer and consisted of a series of behavioural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies that were pivotal in demonstrating that antidepressants have effects on emotion-related cognition that can be quantified using computerised behavioural tasks and neuroimaging. I held a Supernumerary Teaching Fellowship at St John's College Oxford from 2008-2014.  In 2018 I was awarded the title of University Research Lecturer and in 2020 I became an NIHR Oxford Health BRC Senior Fellow.

I have led the Department of Psychiatry’s Athena SWAN process since 2017.