WeMakeScholars initiative is supported by the Govt. of India; associated with 10+ public/private banks & NBFCs.
About this course
Current number of staff: 11.
Current number of research students: 8.
Current research projects in the department:
Trial of Therapeutic Assessment in London: randomised controlled trial of Therapeutic Assessment versus standard psychosocial assessment in adolescents presenting with self-harm. 5-year follow-up.
The IAMHealth study is a programme grant funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), entitled “Improving outcomes for people with autism spectrum disorders by reducing mental health problems." The programme started in May 2014 and will run for 5 years. The principal investigator on this project is Professor Emily Simonoff. The grant co-applicants are Professors Tony Charman, Declan Murphy, Stephen Scott, Gillian Baird, Bryony Beresford, Andrew Pickles, Martin Knapp, Dr Paramala Santosh and Ms Carol Povey. The research administrator is Katie Hithersay.
This programme focuses on decreasing mental health problems as a strategy for improving outcomes for people with ASD and their families. These outcomes include: improved mental health, quality of life and community participation for people with ASD; reduced family stress; and decreased economic costs by ultimately lowering the need for high-cost (often residential) care and integration into the community.
We aim to improve identification of mental health problems by developing a tool for clinical use, which can also be used to monitor treatment response. We are undertaking qualitative work with parents, young people and adults with ASD to better understand which problems are most impairing, how families interpret maladaptive behaviours and their experiences of help-seeking. We are studying the early childhood risk/protective factors that differentiate the 20% of young people with ASD who develop SMB in adolescence, so that resources can be better focused to those at highest risk. Finally, we will develop and pilot an early intervention for parents aimed at reducing the risk behaviours, increasing parental understanding of mental health and ASD, and promoting resilience as a strategy to prevent the development of the most severe maladaptive behaviour.
Personalised assessment and intervention for children with conduct problems funded by MRC
About a half of pre-school children who regularly hit other children or disobey rules, have long term problems in many areas of their lives. However many children still have behaviour problems after their parents have attended the standard treatment, group based parent training.
In this programme we will work with parents to develop a way of giving them new skills that are tailored to their needs (personalized), and find out whether this works better than current parent training.
We will first profile 150 parents (e.g. whether they suffer from depression) and children (e.g. how responsive are they to other children’s distress), and follow them through parent training. We will then carry out in depth interviews with parents who completed the training, those who did not, and whose children did or did not respond.
Using this information, the research team will work with parents to develop a new personalized treatment, write a manual, and train therapists working in the NHS in the approach.. We will then check in a pilot study that the new approach can be compared with current parent training, and if that is successful we will go on to find out if the personalized treatment is better than parent training.
The programme will provide essential insights for clinicians about the individual needs of parents of children with early behaviour problems. The new approach has the potential to be the first of a new generation of evidence based personalized treatments, improving lives in the long term and increasing vulnerable children’s chances of making a productive, satisfying contribution to society.
Stress & Development Lab
The Stress & Development Laboratory brings together a group of basic and clinical researchers under the leadership of Dr. Andrea Danese, MD PhD. The Lab aims to understand how stressful experiences in childhood affect development and later health, and how to best support children who had such traumatic experiences. Work in the Lab has the following strategic directions.
Consequences of traumatic stress exposure
What are the consequences of traumatic stress exposure in childhood? Child trauma has been associated with a variety of effects on health, wealth, and crime. However, evidence of association does not necessarily imply causation. Establishing causal links between child traumatic stress and later outcomes is challenging because of the likely latency of effects and several potential artefacts (e.g., selection, confounding, and recall biases). Work in the Lab strengthens causal inference through cumulative evidence from longitudinal-prospective studies, meta-analyses, and animal models. This work helps define clear targets for clinical and public health interventions.
Biological embedding of stress
How is psychosocial stress translated into biological risk for disease? How does early life stress get “under the skin” and affect health? Work in the Lab tests neurobiological, endocrine and immune pathways that mediate the effects of stress on heath. Furthermore, we are interested in developing and applying innovative analytical methods to study stress biology in young people. Insights into the mechanisms of biological embedding of stress highlight potential targets for secondary prevention and treatment strategies for stress-related conditions.
Resilience, reversibility, and treatment
How can we help young people who have experienced traumatic stress? Work in the Lab is addressing this question is several ways. We look for modifiable characteristics of the individual that affect resilience or vulnerability to disease in the face of trauma exposure. We ask if currently available treatments modify the biological liability linked to trauma exposure, in order to prevent the onset or the persistence of disease. We explore if it is possible to prevent disease onset or progression by directly targeting the biological liability linked to trauma exposure.
Our research builds on collaborations with epidemiological studies, such as the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health & Development Study and the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study, and with the National & Specialist Clinic for Child Traumatic Stress and Anxiety Disorders at the Maudsley Hospital.
Research projects at the Autism and Related Disorders Lab
Autism Spectrum Disorder
We have been studying twins to investigate the role of genetic and non genetic factors and we also collaborate with molecular genetic labs (Sanger Centre & DeCode Genetics) to identify genetic and epigenetic changes linked to ASD. We work with the British Study of Autism Consortium (http://www.basisnetwork.org/) to chart the early manifestations of ASD. Brain imaging studies (MRI and EEG/ERP) are also used to map the brain structural and functional changes associated with ASD.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
We have been studying twins to determine the basis for association between ASD and ADHD, as well as brain imaging techniques to identify the brain basis for the co-occurrence of ASD + ADHD. We also collaborate with The Studying Autism and ADHD Risks (STAARS) study to chart the emergence of ADHD symptoms in infancy.
Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC)
TSC is a genetic disorder that is a well-established cause of both ASD and ADHD. TSC is a unique “model” system that has special features that enable us to test neuropsychological theories of the nature of the brain disruption leading to ASD + ADHD. We have been studying a UK cohort of individuals with TSC (The TS 2000 cohort) to map the risk pathways that lead to ASD + ADHD.
We are working with colleagues at Birkbeck College, London and Southampton University to conduct a Randomised Control Trial (RCT) of a novel attention control training intervention in infants at risk of ADHD (see http://www.staars.org/). Gaze contingent computerised animations are used to help develop attention control in babies with a relative (parent or sibling) with ADHD. The study aims to see if the intervention can prevent the development of ADHD later in childhood.
Check further details on University website
Bachelors degree with 2:1 honours (or international equivalent). A 2:2 degree may be considered only where applicants also offer a Masters with Merit (or international equivalents).
All applicants need to meet the College English language proficiency requirements (see right)
Applicants not applying for an advertised studentship must attached confirmation of support from your proposed supervisor to your application.
English language requirement:
Check further details on University website
Professor Emily Simonoff heads the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry which has a diverse research programme studying both common and rarer, severe disorders that start in childhood often persisting into adulthood. The disorders studied in the Department include: autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder, affective disorders, substance misuse, obsessive compulsive disorder, intellectual disability and eating disorder as well as parenting problems and deliberate self-harm.
We aim to improve our understanding of how mental disorders develop and establish methods of treatment and prevention. Our research extends into risk factors (both biological and environmental) for the development of disorders and treatment strategies. Members of the Department use a range of scientific methods, including epidemiology, behaviour and molecular genetics, neuroimaging and clinical trials.
Research receives substantive funding from external bodies such as the Medical Research Council, Wellcome Trust, National Institute of Health Research as well as smaller charities and other arms of the government.
We have an integrated scheme of research, teaching and clinical work. The aim is to understand how disorders develop and to apply the results to make new treatments and assessments, evaluate them and provide need and cost information for health services planners. The links between basic science and translation into improved clinical services are strengthened by the structures of the academic health sciences centre, King’s Health Partners.
Many senior academic staff members have particularly strong links with the National Specialist teams based at the Maudsley Hospital. These teams focus on the development of methods and services in specific clinical areas that are integrated with the Department’s research interests.
The Department’s teaching is postgraduate and focuses on:
In collaboration with the Children’s Directorate of the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust the Department provides postgraduate clinical training for CT1-3 ‘core trainees’ and ST4-6 ‘specialty registrars’.
Course study environment
Graduate research students work closely with their supervisors and enjoy regular meetings to discuss their progress. They also liaise with other members of staff with relevant research interests and are encouraged to attend and participate in departmental research presentations and other Institute seminars. There is a full induction for new graduate students on commencing their studies. Each full-time graduate research student is allocated their own workspace and computer; facilities for part-time students can be arranged according to their needs.
Training courses run by the department, the Institute or through the Graduate School can be utilised as required to provide training in a wide variety of topics, from transferable skills to academic areas directly relevant to the student's thesis.
Head of group/division
Professor Emily Simonoff
Contact for information
Ms Julie Burnell, tel +44 (0)20 7848 0478
Check further details on University website
How to Apply
Firstly identify a suitable supervisor within the relevant department: for a searchable list of available supervisors, please see our website (www.iop.kcl.ac.uk/apps/supervisors). Alternatively, you can contact the department directly for general guidance on potential supervisors whose research interests most closely match those of your own.
You will then need to complete an application form, available from our website: https://myapplication.kcl.ac.uk/ and provide two references. Successful applicants will be required to obtain approval for their research project prior to registration. The relevant form can be downloaded at http://www.kcl.ac.uk/iop/research/pgr/apply.aspx
Forms should be completed in collaboration with your prospective supervisor. For information on application and project approval procedures please contact email@example.com.
Personal statement and supporting information
No information required.
No set number.
Application closing date
The deadline for applications is detailed below for 2016 entry. Prior to these dates all applications will be given equal consideration and considered on their individual merits. After these dates applications will be considered subject to the availability of places, thus we encourage you to submit your application as soon as possible. Please note that funding deadlines may be earlier.
June 2016 entry - Application Deadline 01 March 2016
October 2016 entry - Application Deadline 23 May 2016
February 2017 entry - Application Deadline 01 November 2016
Check further details on University website