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LonDownS makes local news in Berkshire

By rejutal, on 14 April 2016

The LonDownS study, looking at dementia in people with Down syndrome and led by André Strydom, has made the local press in Berkshire.
Berkshire Healthcare NHS Trust is taking part in the LonDownS study for over a year now and has recruited and assessed several people using the LonDownS battery of assessments.

See the full press release here: https://t.co/grjC5LyzLd

New MSNAP Standards recognise importance of age appropriate care for Young Onset Dementia

By rejujec, on 8 April 2016

A submission by Dr Janet Carter to the Memory Service National Accreditation Programme (MSNAP), run by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, has led to the adoption of new national standards for Young Onset Dementia (YOD). The role of MSNAP is to help improve the quality of memory services in the UK and to set national standards for those running memory services whether or not they belong to the programme.
Dr Carter is member of the National Young Onset Dementia Network, hosted by the charity Youngdementia UK which is committed to improving care for younger people and their families living with dementia. For the first time, standards designating a clear care pathway and a named lead for YOD have been identified. The submission was supported by evidence from the UK survey of services for YOD published earlier this year by Dr Jo Rodda and Dr Carter.


By Elvira Bramon, on 15 March 2016

All papers accepted for publication from 1st April 2016 will need to be OPEN ACCESS to be eligible for the new Research Excellence Framework.

We are required to deposit all our accepted manuscripts in the UCL depository from 1 April 2016. We cannot submit papers to the next REF unless they have followed this new open access rule. UCL will also be evaluated on our overall performance in making papers open access in this way. Of course, there is also an advantage to us of having our papers open access as more people can read them.

Here is a helpful summary written by Catherine Sharp, UCL lead on open access:

Open Access for UCL Psychiatry

The relationship between depositing manuscripts and creating a publication that is open access is complex. Catherine (contactable via openaccess@ucl.ac.uk) will respond to individual queries about this process if you can’t get advice locally.


Congratulations to Sonia Johnson winner of the Provost’s Teaching Award for Leadership in Education

By Elvira Bramon, on 9 March 2016


Sonia Johnson has been awarded the 2016 Provost’s Teaching Award for Leadership in Education. This is in recognition of developing and leading the new MScs in Mental Health Sciences Research and Clinical Mental Health Sciences at the UCL Division of Psychiatry. Sonia and the MSc teaching team provide an outstanding educational experience for our students. The course recruits talented students many of whom stay at UCL to do a PhD or clinical training. The research projects the students do supervised by UCL Psychiatry staff often get published in excellent journals.

Sonia thanked key colleagues in the MSc course including Vaughan Bell, Jo Billings, Chris Coup, Rebecca Jones, Gemma Lewis, Nuj Monowari, Nicola Morant and Sarah Rowe. More information on these prestigious awards here


Congratulations to Sonia and the MSc core teaching team!



Interdisciplinary research, volcanoes and a travelling rhinoceros

By rejuhll, on 14 September 2015

Last week, the Division’s Qualitative Researchers Working Group co-hosted the first in a series of seminars on qualitative health research[1]. The theme was “interdisciplinary research” and the context, strangely enough for a division of psychiatry, was volcanoes. During the seminar, Anthropologist, Professor Linda Whiteford, and geoscientist, Professor Graham Tobin, both from the University of South Florida, shared tales of their long-time collaboration in Baños, Ecuador. Beyond jokes that they stood paralysed between Linda’s anthropologically-informed worry about eating local vegetables customarily soaked in water that was likely to carry disease, and Graham’s geoscienfically-informed fears that the volcano could quite literally blow a hole in their research at any moment, their thesis was a serious one: interdisciplinary work offers that which work confined to one or other discipline cannot.


M0010418 Muscled skeleton, facing front with Rhinoceraus. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Muscled skeleton, facing front with Rhinoceraus. Tabulae scleti et Muscularum Corporis Humani Bernhardus Siegfried Albinus Published: 1747 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

An écorché figure, front view, with left arm extended, showing the bones and the fourth order of muscles, with a grazing rhinoceros in the background. Line engraving by J. Wandelaar, 1742 (Wellcome Library no. 565796i)


Such a view is clearly etched into UCL’s Grand Challenges and underscored in the missions of research councils and an expanding population of interdisciplinary journals. It is seen as the latest iteration of the cutting edge in research planning, altogether more innovative, more relevant and more persuasive. Yet what does it really mean for projects to be interdisciplinary? How should we judge their successes? And how should a dynamic be set that allows each discipline to flourish according to its own terms?


Working across boundaries is by no means something new. A familiar example is that which gave birth to those images we see in textbooks and atlases and pore over in encyclopaedias. Images given in divine splendour towards an ideal type, which might not have followed the rough contours of the natural world yet which survived in the archetypes that became the basis on which the natural world was known. Here, the leaves of trees were cast as pure and unblemished, animals ennobled with human character, and human bodies turned inside out, made free of the sticky fluids that give them their fleshy corporality. Here is where we see draughtsmen working alongside botanists, zoologists, anatomists and surgeons.


L0023550 Male skeleton with a rhinoceros Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Back view of a male skeleton with a rhinoceros in the background. Engraving 1747 Tabulae sceleti et musculorum corporis humani Bernhardus Siegfried Albinus Published: 1747 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

An écorché figure, back view, with left arm extended, showing the bones and the fourth order of muscles, with a rhinoceros seen in the background. Line engraving by J. Wandelaar, 1742 (Wellcome Library no. 565802i)


A wonderful example is the Tabulae sceleti et musculorum corporis humani, published in 1747 by the Dutch anatomist Bernhard Siegfried Albinus. As well as giving us some of the most startlingly beautiful images of human anatomy, the Tabulae sceleti promised to rework concepts of the body into a reality hitherto unseen. To render this ambition, Albinus recruited Jan Wandelaar, master painter and engraver, and lover, it turned out, of rhinoceroses. He wrote of their relationship: “And thus [Wandelaar] was instructed, directed, and as entirely ruled by me, as if he was a tool in my hands, and I made the figures myself.”[2] This seems to deny Wandelaar of any agency in the production of the figures. Yet, perhaps it is misleading.


Wandelaar himself suggested that his figures be placed in natural settings “to preserve the proper light of the picture.”[3] He took freedom to embellish his figures, depicting them against grand and glorious backdrops of classical scenes, buildings and the natural world. And in several of the plates appears the bizarre figure of that which had preoccupied his earlier engravings: a rhino. Putting aside any guesswork about narrative, which might take us on a wonderland-like misadventure, here perhaps was a way in which Wandelaar was able to serve himself and popularise his version of a rhino amongst his peers and beyond. It is certainly an image whose legacy remains as amongst the most accurate of early renderings of a rhinoceros, one that broke artists free of a slavish mimicry of Dürer’s (1515) fancifully scaly and armour-plated monster[4].


V0021201 A rhinoceros. Woodcut after C. Gessner. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org A rhinoceros. Woodcut after C. Gessner. 1551 By: Conrad GessnerPublished: 1551 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

A rhinoceros. Woodcut after C. Gessner, 1551. (Wellcome Library no. 41009i)


It has also been noted that the inclusion of the rhino (and other details behind the figures) contributed to the wide circulation and enduring quality of the Albinus atlas.[5] The atlas itself became a material that travelled across disciplines, finding homes in the bookshelves of anatomists and artists alike, and informing the trajectories of fields from human anatomy and surgery to zoology and figurative painting. Is this perhaps a marker of interdisciplinary success: the production of knowledge that can travel across borders and settle in various academic homes? Knowledge that is both difficult to classify in ordinary terms and which can bridge the gaps between silos? And is this something that we should aim for in our collaborations, whether they be between anthropologists and geoscientists, psychiatrists and sociologists, or epidemiologists and qualitative researchers? I’d say, yes to all three, tipping my hat to the travelling rhinoceros…


[1] Seminar series co-hosted with the UCL Department of Applied Health Research and the UCL Health Behaviours Research Centre.

[2] Albinus, Academicarum annotationum, libri I-VIII, lib. 1. Praef quoted in Choulant, L. 1920. History and bibliography of anatomic illustration. Translated and annotated by Mortimer Frank. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, p.277.

[3] Albinus, Academicarum annotationum, libri I-VIII, lib. 1. Quoted in Choulant, L. 1920. History and bibliography of anatomic illustration. Translated and annotated by Mortimer Frank. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, p.17.

[4] Ross MacFarlane. Object of the month: Human skeleton and young rhinoceros. 2011. Available at: http://blog.wellcomelibrary.org/2011/08/object-of-the-month-august-2011-jan-wandelaar-human-skeleton-and-young-rhinoceros/

[5] Linda Wilson-Pauwels. 2009. Jan Wandelaar, Bernard Siegfried Albinus and an Indian Rhinoceros Named Clara Set High Standards as the Process of Anatomical Illustration Entered a New Phase of Precision, Artistic Beauty, and Marketing in the 18th Century. Journal of Biocommunications, 35(1), 10-17.

LonDownS PhD student Ros Hithersay wins £48k grant

By rejutal, on 7 September 2015

A team of researchers from the Division of Psychiatry have been awarded £48,000 from the Baily Thomas Charitable Fund to investigate the feasibility of using functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to identify differences in cortical activity that may relate to differences in cognitive abilities and predict later cognitive decline, in adults with Down syndrome. Rosalyn Hithersay will develop and conduct the study as part of her PhD. She is supervised by Dr Andre Strydom and Dr Carla Startin, with support from Professor Clare Elwell’s team in UCL’s Department of Medical Physics and Bioengineering. This work will further develop the ongoing research into individual differences in Down syndrome that is currently being conducted by the London Down Syndrome Consortium (LonDownS). You can hear more about LonDownS through their study websitehttps://www.ucl.ac.uk/london-down-syndrome-consortium or twitter feed @LonDownS.

LonDownS Consortium on the mechanisms of Alzheimer disease

By rejutal, on 5 August 2015

LonDownS have just published a large review in Nature Reviews Neuroscience about what Down syndrome can tell us about the mechanisms of Alzheimer disease

Down syndrome, which arises in individuals carrying an extra copy of chromosome 21, is associated with a greatly increased risk of early-onset Alzheimer disease (AD). It is thought that this risk is mainly conferred by the presence of three copies of the gene encoding amyloid precursor protein (APP) — an AD risk factor — although the possession of extra copies of other chromosome 21 genes may also play a part. Interestingly, everyone with Down syndrome has the classic neuropathology of dementia but not will develop dementia. This dissociation is extremely interesting and we suggest that detailed study of people with Down syndrome could provide mechanistic insights into AD both in this population and in the general population.

Read the full text of our review:

Open Day for the MScs in Mental Health Sciences, UCL Division of Psychiatry

By rejusjo, on 7 July 2015


The UCL Division of Psychiatry is holding an Open Afternoon on 15th July 2015 from 1pm until 5pm for offer holders on the MSc in Clinical Mental Health Sciences Research and Mental Health Sciences Research. We also welcome people who are still in the application process and would like to hear some detailed presentations about the course content, and people who are thinking seriously about applying. Lunch is from 1pm to 2pm, and there will then be presentations from the course team and module leads on the course content and structure and on student experiences at UCL.

To register to attend, please contact our course administrator Chris Coup – c.coup@ucl.ac.uk


Further information:

The UCL MSc in Mental Health Sciences Research

The UCL MSc in Clinical Mental Health Sciences

Division of Psychiatry at UCL


Chris Anderson to RideLondon for Marie Curie Cancer Care

By Kim Morgan, on 16 January 2015

Division of Psychiatry researcher Chris Anderson writes:

“I will be riding in the Prudential RideLondon 100 this August for Marie Curie Cancer Care as part of the Daffodil Team.

I would really appreciate it if you could make a donation.

I have set a very low target of £700 to raise but would really like to achieve more than this – at least  £1000 – which I do not think is too unreasonable.

I am a keen cyclist but have become more serious over the past few years. My weekly commute to work across London is 125 mile a week.

As a nurse I can fully appreciate how difficult things are for families when someone they love is terminally ill with cancer and the support provided by Marie Curie is absolutely invaluable.

As a researcher in ovarian cancer I interviewed over 1000 women as part of still ongoing research to help women survive this disease, and I am very aware of the impact this cancer and the related bowel, breast and prostate cancers, have on families.

If you could make a donation I would be extremely grateful – your support will encourage me not only on the ride itself but throughout the year on my training rides too. But most importantly it will provide much needed funding for the nurses of Marie Curie to provide the level of support cancer patients and their families need: £20 pays for the cost of 1 nurse for 1 hour!

Many Thanks, with Best Wishes


Here is the link:


Lauren Yates reflects on iCST event concluding major research project

By Kim Morgan, on 12 January 2015


Individual Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (iCST) is a programme of mentally stimulating activities for carers and people with dementia to do together at home. Typically pairs complete up to 3, 20-30 minute sessions per week over 25 weeks. Each session is themed (eg: word games, current affairs, being creative) with a choice of activities to cater for the interests and abilities of the person.


iCST is based on group Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST), an evidence based psychosocial intervention, which has been found to benefit cognition and quality of life for people with dementia (see www.cstdementia.com for more information). With input from carers, people with dementia, and experts in the field, the iCST programme and materials were developed to cater for those unable to access CST groups. The programme was then evaluated in a large scale randomized controlled trial (RCT) across 8 research sites in the UK: London, Bangor, Hull, Manchester, Dorset, Devon, Lincolnshire, and Norfolk & Suffolk.


In early December we held an event for members of the iCST teams and study participants at Friends House to mark the end of the trial. We wanted to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of those involved, and share the results of the main trial and quantitative interviews. In addition to presentations from Professor Martin Orrell, Phuong Leung, and myself from the London team, the day included talks from Dr. Ruth Newman who gave us a lively and entertaining account of Devon team’s experience of iCST, and Dave Prothero who gave us a compelling insight into the experience and value of patient public involvement (PPI) in research.


It was a real pleasure to host the event, and to have the opportunity to catch up with teams and carers I enjoyed working with over the course of the study. For me, the highlight of the day was being able to present everyone with the newly published iCST Manual ‘Making a Difference 3’ (see careinfo.org for more information), and show clips from the accompanying DVD. The partnerships we established with the various research sites were very successful, and we hope that there will be other opportunities to collaborate on future research projects.