About the Psychopharmacology Committee

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Oliver Howes is Professor of Molecular Psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and London Institute of Medical Sciences, Imperial College, London. His clinical work is as Consultant Psychiatrist at The Maudsley Hospital where, amongst other things, he runs a service for people with refractory psychoses.

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.

This work has been recognised through a number of awards including the Schizophrenia International Research Society Rising Star Award 2013, European Psychiatric Association Biological Psychiatry Prize (2012), the Royal Society of Medicine Psychiatry Prize (2010), Royal College of Psychiatrists research prize (2005), and the British Association of Psychopharmacology Clinical Psychopharmacology Prize (2007). He was made an honorary associate of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology in 2006.

Other career highlights include working as a junior potato scrubber on a farm. He spends his spare time selflessly trying to find the world’s best ice cream.

Declaration of interests

Employed part-time by King’s College London and part-time by H Lundbeck A/v and Honorary Consultant at SLaM (NHS UK).

No share holdings in pharmaceutical or medical device companies.

Has received funding from Astra-Zeneca, Autifony, BMS, Eli Lilly, Heptares, Invicro, Jansenn, Lundbeck, Mylan (Viatris), Neurocrine, Otsuka, Servier, Sunovion, Rand, and Roche for investigator initiated studies and/or for participation in advisory boards, speaker bureau and/or educational events. 

Main grant funding (past and present): MRC (UK), Wellcome Trust, and European Union.

I am Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Imperial College, London, Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist at the West London Mental Health NHS Trust, and joint-head of the Prescribing Observatory for Mental Health (POMH-UK).

In 1987, I set up one of the first tertiary-referral services for treatment-resistant schizophrenia. The main focus of my clinical research over the last 30 years has been schizophrenia, with a particular interest in the rational treatment of the condition. I have led investigations that have covered psychological and pharmacological treatment interventions for the condition and investigated antipsychotic drug side effects (particularly extrapyramidal movement disorders; the reliability, validity and clinical utility of the Barnes Akathisia Rating Scale have been independently demonstrated, and it is the scale most frequently used to assess this condition, world-wide), as well as phenomenology, neurocognition and comorbid substance use, including a Wellcome-funded, first-episode psychosis study. My work has generated over 250 publications.

Recent research experience includes PI for the CUtLASS trial, and chair of the IDMECs for the BALANCE and CEQUEL trials. I am currently CI for the HTA-funded ACTIONS and AMICUS trials, PI for the BeneMin study, and chair of the Trial Steering Committees for the NESS and CIRCLE studies. I am a past member of the Committee on Safety of Medicines, past Chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Special Interest Group in Psychopharmacology, and past President of the British Association for Psychopharmacology. I was a member of the NICE schizophrenia guideline development group (and chair of the pharmacology subcommittee) in 2002 and for the guideline update in 2009.

Declaration of interests form

Sam Chamberlain is a Wellcome Trust Fellow and Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist, at the University of Cambridge Department of Psychiatry, and Cambridge & Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust. His work focuses on the neurobiology and treatment of impulsive, compulsive, and behaviourally-addictive disorders. Key examples include attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorders, and gambling disorder. These conditions are common, functionally impairing, but often hidden and under-treated.  

Dr Chamberlain’s research uses clinical measures, cognitive tests, and biomarkers (such as brain imaging and genetics) to better understand why impulsive and compulsive problems develop; and how they can be better treated. He has contributed to the development of new clinical rating scales / instruments; and to a number of treatment studies. For example, along with collaborators in the USA, he found that n-acetyl cysteine (an antioxidant and amino-acid precursor) improved symptoms of skin picking disorder; and enhanced long-term outcomes when used alongside psychotherapy in gambling disorder.  

Dr Chamberlain has published widely, including first-authored papers in Science, the American Journal of Psychiatry, Biological Psychiatry, and the Archives of General Psychiatry. He is co-author of several books including ‘Clinical Guide to Obsessive Compulsive and Related Disorders' and ‘Why Can't I Stop? Reclaiming Your Life from a Behavioral Addiction’. He is Associate Editor at Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, and acts as reviewer for a variety of journals and organizations. Dr Chamberlain has received the Wyeth Award for Psychopharmacology from the British Association for Psychopharmacology, and a Clinical Fellowship from the Wellcome Trust.

Declaration of Interest form (PDF)

Dr Eleanor Smith is a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist for Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust and an Associate Clinical Lecturer at Newcastle University. In her clinical role Dr Smith is the Consultant Psychiatrist for the Complex Neurodevelopmental Disorder Service (CNDS). Based in Newcastle upon Tyne, CNDS is an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) clinical academic service funded by NHS England to provide second opinion diagnostic assessments and consultation/management advice for autistic children and young people with co-morbid psychiatric disorder who require more specialist intervention than is available within local child and adolescent mental health and paediatric services.

Declaration of interest form

 

Belinda Lennox is Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford and Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist in the Early Intervention in Psychosis service for Oxford Health NHS FT.

She trained in General Adult Psychiatry in Nottingham, Oxford and Cambridge. Her interests are in discovering the causes of and developing more effective treatments for those with psychosis and in implementing those discoveries into clinical practice. She has undertaken neuroimaging studies to explore the brain basis of auditory hallucinations, and of different mood states in bipolar disorder.

Her current research is in the autoimmune basis of psychosis and she runs a clinic, jointly with neurologists, to assess and treat people with autoimmune psychosis, as well as running a clinical trial to test out this new approach. (www.sinapps.org.uk). She is leading the evaluation of point of care devices for improving physical healthcare in those with mental illness, and undertakes health services research, aiming to develop the best model of care for people with psychosis.

She has been the Clinical Director for NIHR Clinical Research Network in Thames Valley overseeing clinical research delivery across all medical specialties in the Thames Valley and the clinical lead for Early Intervention in Psychosis for NHS England (South), overseeing the implementation of the Access and Waiting time standard for Early Intervention in Psychosis services, and improving the standard of care provided. 

Declaration of interests

No share holdings in pharmaceutical or medical device companies.

Has received funding from Lundbeck, Astellas for scientific advice and/or participating in educational events. 

Main grant funding (past and present): MRC (UK), NIHR, Stanley Medical Research Institute, Johnson and Johnson.

Nathan Rouse is a psychiatry trainee in the West London Mental Health Trust. He is currently a London representative on the Psychiatric Trainees' Committee and will be the trainee representative for the psychopharmacology committee.

He has a keen interest in psychopharmacology and hopes to use this role to support other trainees. One day he hopes to have as impressive credentials as the other members of the committee.

Declaration of interest.

Dr Mudasir Firdosi is a Consultant General Adult Psychiatrist and Clinical Director of Quality Improvement for Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust.

In his clinical role, Dr Firdosi is the Consultant Psychiatrist for an acute inpatient ward. He is also an elected executive member for the faculty of General Adult Psychiatry (GAP) at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, London. 

Dr Firdosi has an interest in improving the quality of care and has a special interest in psychopharmacology and other biological treatments as a front-line clinician. He has been involved in clinical trials and has published review papers with a focus on psychopharmacology. 

Declaration of interest.


Jan Melichar is an NHS Consultant Addiction Psychiatrist in Cardiff, Faculty Chair, Addictions Psychiatry, Royal College of Psychiatrists Wales, an Honorary Senior Lecturer (Psychopharmacology, Bath University) and Visiting Professor (University of South Wales), with a diverse portfolio career. His clinical research and service development has always focused on improving both the patient journey and their drug treatment, balancing this with an awareness that good treatment requires an understanding of the whole person.

25 years ago, he started looking at how to improve opioid addiction and treatments for depression, anxiety, and chronic pain. This included early work on Buprenorphine/Naloxone (Suboxone™) and Lofexidine (Britlofex™) with colleagues in Bristol. In 2008, he was awarded one of the prestigious national HEFCE “New Blood” Clinical Senior Lectureships and, with diverse colleagues, he's looked at buprenorphine patches for depression (Bath University), 6-monthly naloxone implants (Perth, Australia) and clinical biomarkers (Nottingham University) in depression. He left in 2015 to found an early stage medical device start-up, leaving it once it had acquired seed investment in 2017.  For the past 5 years, he has focused on the significant clinical benefits of long acting injectable/implantable buprenorphine (Buvidal™, Sublocade™ and Sixmo™).  

In 2020, due to Covid-19, he put a successful bid to Welsh Government to fund nationwide use of the only UK licensed long-acting injectable buprenorphine (LAB)- the weekly and monthly Buvidal™. With colleagues, he rolled it out across Wales and has given >500 injections to >100 patients in the past 2 years. Because of the overwhelmingly clear benefits, Welsh Government has now provided £2.5M of central guaranteed funding for ~1300-1500 patients annually over the next three years (2022-2025). He has been involved in the development of similar services in Scotland and England.  

Professor Melichar has provided input more globally to industry and commissioners, including to the UK Government at the UK Government Ministerial Drug Summits. His research interests include facilitating lab-based research to understand what causes the significant allostatic and kappa antagonistic benefit of LAB and the development of properly researched detoxification and trauma pathways for those on it. Recently he has been awarded £1/2M from Welsh Commissioners to develop a Trauma foucussed servcie to build on LABs benefits. 

He previously worked as a Medical Director, Substance Misuse Lead in a Regional Complex Pain service, lead consultant in a Regional Psychopharmacology Unit -  seeing patients with treatment-resistant depression, anxiety and sleep disorders - and set-up a Regional Detoxification Unit. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 2015 and, in 2022, was elected Addictions Faculty Chair for the Royal College of Psychiatrists Wales. 

He spends his spare time with his family and cycling with friends to coffee shops to indulge in his dual passions of coffee and pastries. 

Declaration of interest

He has provided consultancy work, presentations, training and chaired panel discussions for all the pharmaceutical companies in this area in the UK and some outside the UK. The main drugs used are oral Buprenorphine (Indivior, Martindale), oral Methadone (Martindale) and Long Acting Injectable Buprenorphine (LAB - only Buvidal, from Camurus, is licensed, but Indivior have monthly Sublocade and Molteni have six monthly Sixmo). In 2023, his NHS service will provide teaching and training for LAB as a UK Centre of Excellence supported by Camurus. Recent work (past 5 years) has been with the above - Indivior, Martindale, Camurus, Molteni - but also includes Althea (UK work - Cannabis prescribing), Britannia (UK work -opiate detox agent - Lofexidine), Jazz Pharmaceuticals (UK - antidepressants) and USWorldMeds (US work on Lofexidine). He retains shares in his medical device start-up company but has no shareholdings with pharmaceutical companies. 

Alex Todd is a psychiatry trainee working in Northern Ireland. Passionate about all things psychiatry, trainee wellbeing and education. She currently is a Northern Ireland trainee representative on the Psychiatric Trainee Committee.

She also sits as the trainee representative for the RCPsych Psychopharmacology Committee, as well as, being a member of the BMA Junior Doctors Committee. 

Nicola is the deputy Chief Pharmacist at Essex Partnership University NHS Trust having previously been in a number of lead clinical roles in Mental Health Trusts. She is the registrar of the College of Mental Health Pharmacy (CMHP) and has been co-opted onto the committee to strengthen the link between the two organisations and support joint initiatives.

Nicola has been involved in a number of projects spanning different areas such as introducing a physical formulary across a mental health trust, supporting the development of the specialist pathway for mental health pharmacists, using prescribing indicators to improve psychotropic prescribing and improving clinicians and patients access to resources for medication.

Recently she has become interested in the impact of ethnicity on mental health treatments and outcomes and is currently involved in looking at updating research on mental health treatments across different ethnicities and is part of a working group to look at reducing restrictive interventions and improving early access to services to improve management of patients from all backgrounds. She has joined the working group on pharmacogenetics in mental health which is investigating how psychiatry may be able to use personalised medicines to improve outcomes.