Department of Psychiatry
Research - Research Units
Psychosis Research Programme
People with mental illness, in particular psychotic disorders, have complex needs that often limit their full potential for productive social, educational, and occupational lives. The first episode of psychosis and the preceding period of clinical and functional decline offers unique opportunities for understanding the mechanisms of psychosis and providing early treatment intervention aimed at optimizing outcome. The key theme of our research focus is to identify psychosis-specific risk and resilience factors in particular environments, promote evidence-based pharmacological and psychosocial intervention research including clinical trials, and contribute significantly to the teaching and training of professionals and researchers from developing countries.
The program was started in the mid-90s with a focus on pharmacological research in schizophrenia. In 2008 we embarked on a prospective study exploring the clinical, biological, and functional aspects of treatment outcome in first-episode schizophrenia. We focused on the pharmacology, efficacy, and tolerability of long-acting injectable antipsychotic medications in the treatment of first-episode schizophrenia spectrum disorders. We examined the course and outcomes using clinical and imaging data. We also examined the association between environmental factors and childhood trauma on disease onset and progression. Our program provides opportunities for PhD and Master level training for scientists, clinicians, and psychologists with a particular focus on women, black psychiatrists, and people with disabilities.
To be a premier research unit that develops cutting-edge scientific tools to improve our understanding of psychotic disorders through engagement with diverse collaborators, stakeholders, and the community which we serve.
To be a center of research excellence that responds to important knowledge gaps in the field of psychosis research and needs relevant to our setting through innovative scholarship and strategic collaborations.
Prof Robin Emsley
MBChB, DCH, FCPsych, MMed (Psych), DMed, DSc
Sarah Turoff Endowed Chair in Schizophrenia
Prof Laila Asmal
MBChB, FCPsych, MMed (Psych), MSc Clinical Epidemiology, PhD
Interest area: psychiatric epidemiology and neuropsychiatry
|Dr Stefan du Plessis|
Interest area: psychiatric neuroimaging
||Dr Hilmar Klaus Lückhof
MBChB, BScHons Pathology, MSc Pathology, PhD
Interest area: Metabolic syndrome and clinical outcomes and sex- and gender-based email@example.com
|Dr Lebogang Phahladira|MBChB, DMH, FCPsych
Interest area: clinical course and firstname.lastname@example.org
Clinical trials and research email@example.com
|Freda Scheffler |MA Psychology
Interest: neurobiology and substance use and psychiatric firstname.lastname@example.org
MA Research Psychology
Interest: psychiatric email@example.com
Our current research focus
Our current projects are focused on different aspects of schizophrenia and related psychoses, informed by our exploration of the illness, its clinical course, and ultimate outcome. The group also has a keen interest in the interaction between structural brain measures and environmental factors that shape the clinical course and evolution of first-episode schizophrenia. In addition, we are interested in the use of virtual reality technologies to provide greater insight into these inter-relationships, particularly considering neuroimaging for stress-sensitive brain regions in relation to neurodevelopment. We have explored sex and gender in relation to clinical and treatment outcomes and neurodevelopmental risk factors relevant to the onset and progression of first-episode schizophrenia.
Awards: The 2021 WFSBP Lifetime Achievement Award in Biological Psychiatry - Prof Robin Emsley
- University of Ibadan, Nigeria
- Institute of Psychiatry, King's College, London
- University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
- Utrecht University, The Netherlands
- New Partnership for Africa's Development
- Stanley Medical Research Institute
- Lundbeck International
- Medical Research Council of South Africa
- Department of Science and Technology, South Africa
Available research projects: see here.
Prof Robin Emsley (firstname.lastname@example.org)