Paul Allen
  • 2034 Parkstead House, Whitelands

20042021

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Personal profile

Biography

I completed my PhD in Neuropsychology (University of London) in 2005. Since then I have held the posts of Lecturer and Senior Lecturer in the department of Psychosis Studies at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (formally the Institute of Psychiatry), King's College London where I currently hold a Visiting Professorship. I also hold an honorary post at the Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai, New York, USA. I have co-authored over 125 papers in peer reviewed international journals on the topics of schizophrenia and psychosis risk in young adults, auditory verbal hallucinations and the effects of cannabis on the brain. This work has been funded by NARSAD (Brain and Behavior Research Foundation ,USA), the Medical Research Council (UK), the Wellcome Trust (UK), Guy's and St. Thomas Charitable Trust (UK) and King's Health Partners (UK). My current work aims to develop and trial a real time fMRI neurofeedback system for cognitive training and clinical applications (British Academy and Rosetrees Trust). 

Qualifications

BSc, MSc, Ph.D, FHEA

Research interests

The neurobiology of psychosis risk in young adults

By integrating different neurocognitive and neuroimaging techniques, and working closely with the SLaM clinical service (Outreach and Support in South London; OASIS), the aim of this research is to establish predictive factors conferring elevated risk for development of psychotic illness in young adults with a clinical risk for psychosis. In particular, I have been at the forefront of a multimodal neuroimaging programme that aims to characterise neuropathology associated with psychosis at anatomical, physiological and neurochemical levels.

 

Neurocognitive basis of auditory verbal hallucinations

During my doctoral and post-doctoral work, I used functional neuroimaging and cognitive psychological techniques to study clinical and non-clinical subjects prone to hallucinations. I am a founding member of the International Consortium of Hallucination Research (http://hallucinationconsortium.org/) and have written three book chapters on auditory hallucinations. Currently, I am using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to developing a real-time fMRI neurofeedback system to help treat patients with refractory auditory hallucinations. This work was covered extensively by international news organisations in 2018

 

The acute neurocognitive effects of cannabis

Using neuroimaging the aim of this work is to examine the effects of acute Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) administration (active compounds of the cannabis plant) on cognition and associated neurofunction. In 2009 our group's work was the subject of a television documentary programme (Horizon, British Broadcasting Corporation). I am currently involved in a study investigating the potential use of CBD as a treatment for young people with an clinical risk for psychosis funded by the Guy's and St Thomas Challenge Fund UK. It is hoped that this work will lead to more effective, specific and safer early interventions in young people with early signs and symptoms of psychosis. I am also interested in the effects of early onset cannabis use on brain development and cognitive function, particularly in young adults 

Research projects

  • Rosetrees Trust 2018-2021 (PI): Real time fMRI Neurofeedback for anxiety. £58,000
  • Wellcome Trust Collaborative Award 2017-2020 (collaborator): Hearing the Voice 2 £2,742,000
  • British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Small Research Award 2016 (PI): Attentional bias modification using closed loop training. £9,450
  • Medical Research Council 2015-2017 (PI): Real time fMRI neurofeedback as a treatment for auditory hallucinations: A proof of concept study. £120,000
  • National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Mental Health Biomedical Research Centre Neuroimaging Theme 2014-2016 (PI): Progressive factors underlying the neurobiology of psychosis. £26,000
  • NIHR Mental Health Biomedical Research Centre Neuroimaging Theme 2013-2015 (Co-I): Oxytocin trial for psychosis clinical high risk. £40,000
  • Guy's & St Thomas Challenge Fund 2012-2013 (Co-I): A Preliminary investigation of Cannabidiol (CBD) as a novel treatment for prodromal psychosis. £99,500
  • National Association for Research into Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD) Independent Investigator Award 2010-2013 (PI): Dopamine prefrontal function and transition to psychosis. £60,000
  • Wellcome Trust Programme Grant 2011-2017 (Co- PI):  Neurobiological factors underlying the onset of psychosis. £1,054,000
  • Guy’s & St Thomas Charitable Foundation 2010-2012 (Co-I): The long-term outcome of early detection for psychosis.  £98,000
  • Royal Society Conference Grant (2009) £1,300
  • Medical Research Council UK Project Grant 2008-2012 (Co-I): Social adversity, dopamine, cognition and psychosis. £872,000
  • NARSAD Young Investigator Award 2007-2009 (PI): Effective connectivity in individuals at high risk of psychosis.  £30,000
  • Wellcome Trust Project Grant 2009-2011 (collaborator): Anatomical and functional connectivity in schizophrenia patients with auditory hallucinations. £250,000 

 

Media Engagement

BBC (TV) World News, February 2018

BBC (Radio) World Service, February 2018

BBC (TV) Horizon, May 2017

International Business Times, April 2016

BBC (TV) Horizon, February 2009

 

 

Professional affiliations

Schizophrenia International Research Society (SIRS)

International Early Psychosis Association (IEPA)

Links

External positions

Visiting Professor, King's College London

1 Apr 20151 Apr 2020

Network

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