After completing my Honours and Masters degree in Applied Psychology (Brunel University) I worked at the Department of Psychiatry, Oxford University on the strength of a joint psychology and psychiatric nursing background. I pursued a PhD in Psychology program at Oxford Brookes University supported with funding from the University Department of Psychiatry. At completion of the PhD program I continued pursuing my research as a Post Doc within the department.
My main area of
research covers the identification of neurobiological and psychosocial
vulnerability markers of depression. I am specifically interested in
investigating young people at increased familial risk of depression 1) to
establish whether the HPA axis hyperactivity (from waking cortisol hypersecretion
measured from saliva) they demonstrate may also place them at increased risk to
associated medical conditions such as the metabolic syndrome and vascular
disease (measuring insulin resistance from fasting glucose and insulin levels;
and endothelial dysfunction from Flow Mediated Dilatation (FMD); and other
mechanisms underpinning the associations between vulnerability to depression
and these medical conditions; 2) to assess whether they also present with deficits
in cognitive functioning (with particular focus on working memory) and abnormalities
in the neural substrates of these functions.
I am also interested in
investigating the use of computerised cognitive training programs designed to
improve working memory and related deficits in executive function. The ultimate
aim of this work has been to identify impairments that can be targeted for
prevention aimed at increasing resilience to reduce the incidence of
depression. My methods of investigation are predominantly cross-sectional with
biological, cognitive and behavioural measures as well as neuroimaging
techniques, although I have also used short-term prospective cohort methods
within funding constraints.
I am currently a
Research Fellow on a short-term contract working closely with Professor Nouwen
in a range of projects that combine various biological measures with cognitive function
techniques as methods of investigation. I am also establishing collaborations with
Lygeri Dimitrou from the London Sports Institute in the hope that we could
conduct joint studies requiring salivary hormonal or inflammatory assessment to
give context to cognitive processes.