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I am a Senior Clinical Lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN), King’s College London and a Liaison Consultant Psychiatrist at King’s College Hospital. After having obtained my medical degree and specialty degree in psychiatry at the University of Turin in Italy, I moved to London in 2005 where I obtained my PhD in Psychological Medicine in 2009. I was then awarded a NIHR Clinical Lectureship, and continued to conduct research and clinical work between the IoPPN and the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. In 2013 I was appointed as deputy lead for the BRC Experimental Medicine and Clinical Trials cluster at IoPPN.
My research interests focus on the role of stress and of biological systems involved in the stress response in the pathogenesis of psychiatric disorders, and in the interplay between physical and mental health. My most important research achievements include the description of abnormal biological responses to stress at the onset of psychosis; identifying the biological response to stress (including inflammation and cortisol secretion) as one of the factors contributing to the brain abnormalities found at psychosis onset; and showing that increased inflammatory markers and cortisol at the onset of psychosis predict a poor treatment response at 3-month follow-up. More recently I have started leading a project to investigate the involvement of inflammation in the pathogenesis and treatment response in depression.
2013 Deputy lead, BRC Experimental Medicine and Clinical Trials cluster at IoPPN, Kings College London, UK
PhD, Psychological Medicine, University of London, UK
MD, University of Turin, Italy
I am interested in the interplay between physical and mental health and in the role of stress (and of biological systems involved in the stress response) in the pathogenesis of psychiatric disorders. As part of my work at the BRC, I have focused in the last few years on the interplay between social and biological factors on the onset of psychosis. As part of this research, I have studied the role of stress – and its biological mediators, like hormones and inflammation – in the risk of developing psychosis, in its clinical outcome and in the development of metabolic abnormalities, by using different research techniques, including immunoassays, neuroimaging, and gene expression analyses.
As part of my current research, I am investigating the activation of microglia (immune cells of the nervous system) using a novel positron emission tomography (PET) tracer for patients with depression, as well as in healthy volunteers, before and after injection of a peripheral immune challenge.
I am also leading a clinical trial testing the efficacy of the anti-inflammatory drug minocycline in patients with treatment resistant depression who present increased inflammation.