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Stress, Psychiatry and Immunology Laboratory & Section of Perinatal Psychiatry

Organisational unit: Research Group

Organisation profile

Understanding the relationship between physical and mental health, for the enhancement of both.

In the Stress, Psychiatry and Immunology laboratory (SPI-Lab) Research Group, which includes the Perinatal Psychiatry team, we aim to understand how stress hormones and inflammatory responses regulate behaviour and participate to the therapeutic action of psychotropic drugs. 

The research spans a variety of clinical settings, with a particular emphasis on clinical conditions where there are prominent changes in stress biological markers, such as depression, first-episode psychosis, women in the perinatal period (and their infants), individuals with history of trauma, and patients with inflammation-related medical disorders such as viral hepatitis and chronic fatigue. Moreover, the Group and the Laboratory have a strong emphasis on biological and molecular research relevant to mental health, using both biological samples derived from patients’ populations, and experimental cellular and animal models.

 

Our strategy is based on three parallel streams of research, always with a focus on stress, hormones and inflammation, and an emphasis on translation and back-translation between the different streams:

A) Biomarker research in humans:

Our biomarker research aims to identify blood-based biomarkers that are clinically relevant, and to clarify the effects of psychotropic drugs on the brain, with the ambition of generating new targets for more effective medications. Our work is focused in particular on inflammation and stress hormones.

B) Perinatal research in mothers and their offspring:

Our perinatal research aims to improve the understanding of the effects of maternal mental illness on early parenting, babies’ development, and offspring’s long-term mental health. 

Across these clinical projects, we are working very closely with the Perinatal Psychiatry Clinical Services at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM). 

For further information on these Services, please see the SLaM website.

C) Experimental cellular and animal research: 

The experimental cellular and animal research aims to clarify the molecular changes induced by stressors in human and animal brain models, including the associated phenotypical changes in neurogenesis and brain function, and the molecular mechanisms underlying the effects of psychotropic medications. 

For this research program, we work very closely with the Centre for the Cellular Basis of Behaviour (CCBB) within the Department of Neuroscience.

 

The Group is led by Professor Carmine M. Pariante, Professor in Biological Psychiatry and Consultant in Perinatal Psychiatry at the SLaM.

For a brief overview of Professor Pariante's work please watch this video on our internal webpage.

For more in depth information on the role of inflammation in mental health, please see Professor Pariante's lecture "The Ghost of Inflammation" on the King's Medicine YouTube channel.

For further information about our activities and profiles of the group members please see the  SPI-Lab research portal page.

If you have any particular queries, please contact: Neila Sheikh

 

 

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