28 May 2015
SCI's Membership Affairs Committee
SCI, London, UK
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Medical thinking about mental health disorders has usually located the root of the problem in the mind or in the brain. Medical science can explain unhealthy mental states psychologically, or in terms of abnormal brain structure or function; but mind and body have been divided in Western medicine since Descartes. One crucial example of this dualist split is the so-called "blood brain barrier" - a biological Berlin wall which was supposed to isolate the brain (and therefore the mind) from the immune system in the rest of the body. But recent progress in the new science of neuro-immunology has shown that the brain is in fact intimately interconnected with the immune system: the wall has fallen. This creates an opportunity for radically new ways of understanding mental health disorders and their treatment. The Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust have recently invested, with major pharmaceutical companies, in two consortia set up to explore specifically the rationale for anti-inflammatory drugs as new treatments for some (inflamed) patients with depression.
Ed Bullmore trained in medicine at the University of Oxford and St Bartholomew's Hospital in London, then worked as a Lecturer in Medicine at the University of Hong Kong, before specialist clinical training in psychiatry at St George's Hospital, and then the Bethlem Royal & Maudsley Hospital, in London. From 1993-1999 he was a Wellcome Trust (Advanced) Research Fellow at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London; and then moved to Cambridge as Professor of Psychiatry in 1999. Since 2005, he has worked half-time for GlaxoSmithKline first as Head of GSK's Clinical Unit in Cambridge and since 2013 as Vice-President, ImmunoPsychiatry. He is Clinical Director of the Wellcome Trust/MRC funded Behavioural & Clinical Neuroscience Institute, Scientific Director of the Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre, Chair of Cambridge Health Imaging, Co-Chair of Cambridge Neuroscience, and Head of the Department of Psychiatry, in the University of Cambridge; and an honorary Consultant Psychiatrist and Director of R&D in Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Foundation NHS Trust. He has published about 450 scientific papers and his work has been highly cited. He has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and the Academy of Medical Sciences. His research has focused on mathematical analysis of neuroimaging data, applications of neuroimaging to understanding of neuropsychiatric disorders, and development of new therapeutic approaches for mental health disorders.
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