Oliver Howes
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Personal profile

Biographical details

Head of Department, Psychosis Studies


His clinical work is as a Consultant Psychiatrist at the Maudsley Hospital, London, where he runs a general adult community mental health team.

He also heads the Psychiatric Imaging Group. The group investigates the neurobiology of major mental illnesses and the development of novel treatments. It focuses on the translation of basic science findings into first-in-human and early-phase clinical studies. ISI Thompson has identified 18 of his papers as in the top 1% by citations; Faculty 1000 has identified 10 papers as outstanding & Science Watch identified 2 papers as amongst the top six in psychiatry by citations for the year.


The group’s preclinical work involves the development of novel radiotracers and pharmacological probes to take into human studies and the development of preclinical models of the neurobiology of major mental illnesses. These include developmental, genetic, and pharmacological rat and mouse models, including sub-chronic ketamine, cocaine and chemogenetic (DREADD) challenges. The group uses a variety of in vivo and ex vivo techniques, including behavioural testing, PET imaging in mice and rats with and without blocking agents, autoradiography, confocal microscopy, and immuno-histochemistry.


The group’s human work focuses on experimental medicine studies in patient cohorts and healthy volunteers. Approaches include in vivo imaging with PET, fMRI, and MRS coupled with pharmacological or behavioural challenges. The group uses a number of functional and pharmacological challenge procedures, for example to target the immune, serotinergic, dopaminergic and cannabinoid systems. In addition, the group conducts first-in-human and first-in-disorder studies with new drugs and radiotracers, including in vivo validation using blocking agents and pharmacokinetic modelling. This has involved developing novel modelling approaches and methodological developments. The group also conducts studies on imaging and blood-based biomarkers for stratification of disorders.

Research interests (short)

His research interests centre on the causes and treatment of psychosis. His recent work has focussed on understanding the role of dopamine and neuroinflammation in the development of psychosis, the effects of antipsychotic drugs on the nervous and endocrine systems, & the causes of cognitive impairment in schizophrenia.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Medicine, University of Oxford

Award Date: 1 Jan 2007

Doctor of Philosophy, University of London

Award Date: 1 Jan 2005

Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, University of Oxford

Award Date: 1 Jan 1997

Master of Arts, University of Cambridge

Award Date: 1 Jan 1994


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