Key projects

Helping families of people with drug and alcohol addiction

We have conducted research on the consequences of drug and alcohol addiction for the families of substance users as well as the users themselves. This led to the Stress-Strain-Coping-Support (SSCS) model of understanding addictions and the impact of these problems on families. The work of this team has increased national and international recognition of the importance of families in treating substance addiction in policy, and has resulted in the needs of the family being recognised for the first time in the ten year drug strategy for England in 2008. It has led to family-based interventions being recommended in national clinical guidance from NICE and from the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse.

Early intervention for psychosis

We have a longstanding involvement in the development of early intervention practice and policy for young people at risk for schizophrenia. Schizophrenia affects 1.1% of the adult population, and is one of the most debilitating of the psychiatric disorders, leading to costs of approximately £12 billion a year in the UK. Our work has pioneered the concept and practice of early intervention in psychosis, a key indicator of schizophrenia. This has improved outcomes for people at risk for schizophrenia, and is now recommended in NICE guidance. Evaluation of this approach has found that it is preferred by clients, reduces the suicide rate and reduces lost productivity due to illness.

Early biomarkers for dementia

Researchers using advanced neuroimaging tools are looking for early, brain-based biomarkers of neurodegenerative diseases across the spectrum of dementias, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Finding these biomarkers before such debilitating diseases are even manifest in behaviour will enable pharmaceutical companies to develop more effective drug therapies.

Exercise benefiting a healthy brain

Researchers are focusing on the mechanisms that regulate the blood flow around our brains. Specifically, they are investigating how this is regulated as we age, and in times of stress, and how that affects our breathing, physiological and psychological response. The hope is that in doing so, we can identify which forms of exercise are best for improving our brain health and maintaining it over a prolonged period of time.