Dr Cerisse Gunasinghe, Dr Paul Stokes, Dr Valeria Mondelli, Dr Sally Marlow, Dr Marija-Magdalena Petrinovic

Our Research Champions


As part of NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre (BRC)’s commitment to the Athena SWAN and King’s Diversity and Inclusion charters, in early 2018 we appointed five Research Champions.

Each Champion leads and delivers innovation and transformative impact in the following areas of strategic priority. The current Research Champions (August 2020) are:

  • Diversity and inclusion – Dr Cerisse Gunasinghe
  • Industry partnerships and strategic alliances - Dr Paul Stokes
  • Mental-physical health interface - Dr Valeria Mondelli
  • Research impact and engagement - Dr Sally Marlow
  • Translational neuroscience - Dr Marija-Magdalena Petrinovic

The  Champions are responsible for promoting innovative approaches to enhance activity and improve productivity in their area of responsibility; facilitating connections between different stakeholder groups;

  • Mobilising resources to build capacity and increase productivity
  • Articulating a compelling vision of the future and building support to implement innovation and bring about positive change
  • Boosting skills and confidence in the research community by signposting and facilitating relevant education and training
  • Identifying opportunities to reframe organisational culture and introduce innovative approaches

About the BRC Research Champions

Dr Cerisse Gunasinghe

Dr Cerisse Gunasinghe is a postdoctoral researcher and Counselling Psychologist in the Department of Psychological Medicine at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), King’s College London. She joined King’s in 2002 as a placement student and began working as a researcher in 2004.

Cerisse is project co-ordinator for the BRC-supported HYPE (improving the Health of Young PeoplE) Project. This is a web-based research and resource platform for young adults (aged 16 years and over) that will facilitate young people’s involvement in research, assess current social, economic and health experiences of young people and improve access to online and community-based social and health-related resources.

She is also a co-lead of the Health Inequalities Research Network (HERON), a public engagement network that promotes collaborative community approaches to knowledge dissemination, action and youth outreach.

In addition, she has supported the implementation and evaluation of creative arts and physical activity programmes for service-users and carers. In 2019, Cerisse was shortlisted for a King’s Award for Most Significant Commitment to Widening Participation or Social Mobility.

Dr Paul Stokes 

Dr Paul Stokes studied medicine at the University of Birmingham and completed clinical training in Psychiatry at the Maudsley Hospital, London. In his doctoral studies at Imperial College London, Dr Stokes used PET and fMRI neuroimaging to examine the role of neurotransmitter systems in mediating psychosis, addictions and mood disorders. Dr Stokes obtained his PhD in 2011 from Imperial College London and was awarded the 2013 Royal Society of Medicine Psychiatry Section Mental Health Research Prize. Dr Stokes joined the Centre for Affective Disorders in 2013 where his main research interest is to use neuroimaging to better understand the neurochemical brain mechanisms which mediate bipolar disorder and related co-morbid addictions. He is also very interested in the use of clinical trials and functional neuroimaging to assess treatments to improve mood and cognitive symptoms in mood disorders.

In his clinical work, Dr Stokes is a consultant psychiatrist with the National Affective Disorders Service at the Maudsley Hospital (a national specialist service for people with treatment-resistant mood disorders) and is a specialist consultant psychiatric advisor in mood disorders for the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority.

Dr Stokes was elected to the British Association for Psychopharmacology governing council in 2016. He is the Frontiers in Psychiatry Specialty Chief Editor for Affective Disorders Research. Dr Stokes is the Integrated Academic Training Lead for Psychiatry at King's College London and is also the NIHR CRN South London Lead for Mental Health.

Dr Valeria Mondelli 

Dr Valeria Mondelli is a Senior Clinical Lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London and a Liaison Consultant Psychiatrist at King’s College Hospital. In 2009, she completed her PhD at King’s College London, UK, and she was then awarded an NIHR Clinical Lectureship. Her research interest focuses on the in the interplay between physical and mental health and on the role biological systems involved in the stress response – including neuroendocrine and immune systems – in the pathogenesis of psychiatric disorders.

She is currently leading a project to investigate the involvement of inflammation in the pathogenesis and treatment response in depression and starting a new project aiming to understand biological mechanisms involved in the link between obesity and depression.

Dr Sally Marlow

Dr Sally Marlow is Public Engagement Fellow in the Addictions Department at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London.  She is a BBC Broadcaster specialising in mental health, and is currently working on ‘Storm and Stress’, a documentary series for BBC Radio 4.  Sally also works on arts and mental health projects, and is Associate Editor for Culture at The Psychologist

Dr Marija Petrinovic

Dr Marija Petrinovic obtained her PhD in Neuroscience at the ETH Zurich (Switzerland) and continued her career at a pharma company Roche (Switzerland) where her research focus was on translational approaches for the development of new treatments for neurodevelopmental disorders. Since 2017, Marija is a Lecturer at the Department of Forensic and Neurodevelopmental Sciences and a group leader at the MRC Centre for Neurodevelopmental Disorders where her main research interest is the identification of disease mechanisms and treatment targets for neurodevelopmental disorders.

Caption from left to right: Dr Cerisse Gunasinghe, Dr Paul Stokes, Dr Valeria Mondelli, Dr Sally Marlow and Dr Marija-Magdalena Petrinovic.