Professor Anita Thapar
Clinical Professor, Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences
I head the academic Child & Adolescent Psychiatry section at the Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences, Cardiff University and also direct the developmental disorders group within the MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics.
I am also a senior investigator in the National Centre for Mental Health (http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/mrc-centre-neuropsychiatric-genetics-genomics/research/themes/national-centre-for-mental-health),Wales' first Biomedical Research Centre.
My research focuses on the origins, development and complications of neurodevelopmental disorders. I am especially interested in developmental phenotype manifestation and the contribution/interplay of early environmental exposures and genetic risks. I utilise population epidemiology, genetic and high-risk longitudinal designs.
I became the first Professor in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in Wales in 1999. Since then I have developed research, teaching and a specialist clinical service in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. In 2015, I was lead editor (together with Dr. Daniel S. Pine, NIMH) of the authoritative international textbook in our field, Rutter's Textbook of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. As a clinical academic with Cwm Taf University Health Board, I run an NHS tertiary service for child neurodevelopmental disorders and "transition" neurodevelopmental clinic for 15 to 25 year olds.
Education and Qualifications
- 1995: PhD (Genetic Epidemiology/Psychiatry), University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff
- 1989: MRCPsych, Royal College of Psychiatrists, UK
- 1985: MBBCh (Medicine), Welsh National School of Medicine, Cardiff
- 1999 - present: Cardiff University School of Medicine
- 2014 – 2017: Visiting Professor, School of Psychology, University of Sussex
Honours and awards
- Presidents Medal 2015, Royal College of Psychiatrists, UK for contribution to policy, public knowledge, education and meeting population and patient care needs
- Ruane Prize 2015, Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, USA for outstanding Child & Adolescent Psychiatric research
- Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (FMedSci) 2011, UK
- Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales 2011, Wales
- Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, 1995, UK
- Laughlin Prize 1989 Royal College of Psychiatrists, UK for highest marks and best recommendation in MRCPsych examinations
- Maldwyn Catell Memorial Prize (Welsh Medical Council) awarded 1985 (medical school), Welsh National School of Medicine
- Geraint Walters Prize in Haematology awarded 1985 (medical school), Welsh National School of Medicine
- Member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists
- Registered with the General Medical Council, UK
Previous academic positions
- 1996-1999: Senior Lecturer, Manchester University
- 1991-1995: MRC Clinical Research Fellow, University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff
Selected panels, advisory and editorial boards
- 2016: Member of the American Psychiatric Association Review Committee on Neurodevelopmental Disorders [Intellectual Disability, Learning Disorders, Communication Disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Motor Disorders, ADHD].
- 2015-present: Member of the Together for Children and Young People Expert Reference Group - A Welsh Assembly Government and CAMHS multi- agency Programme Board to drive forward the development and implementation of service improvement plans.
- 2014 – present: Associate Editor and member of the Editorial Board of the American Journal of Psychiatry
- 2014-present:Corresponding Member of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
- 2014-present: The Lancet Psychiatry Advisory Board
- 2015:Wellcome Trust Public Health and Tropical Medicine Interview Committee Member
- 2013 – 2015: Member of the Academy of Medical Sciences Sectional Committee
- 2012 - 2016: Member of the Academy of Medical Sciences Academic Careers Committee
- 2011: Panel member for Evaluation of Biology, Medicine and Health in Norway (March)
- 2009: Autism Speaks - Grant Review Panel
- 2004 - 2007:Wellcome Trust Cognitive and Higher Systems Funding Committee
- 2001 - 2007:Secretary and treasurer of the UK Child Psychiatry Research Society
- I oversee all content of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry teaching
- Academic mentor for undergraduates
- Lecture and examining on neurodevelopmental disorders, intercalated BSc Psychology
- Third year SSC in Child and Adolescent Mental Health
- Winter School in Psychiatry
- Contributions to INSPIRE, CURES taster sessions and placements in child/adolescent mental health
Lectures and placements
- Wellcome Trust PhD programme: lecture on child and adolescent mental health
- MRC Centre Summer school: child and adolescent/developmental mental health lecture
- MRC Centre and Wellcome Trust PhD programme: rotation placements in population health/neurodevelopmental disorders
Current PhD students
- Olga Eyre, Wellcome Trust clinical research fellow
- Sharifah Agha, NHS
- Rhys Bevan Jones, NIHR clinical research fellow
- I am an Academy of Medical Sciences mentor for two clinician scientists
We have a track record of working with the media having worked with the Cardiff University Public engagement team (e.g. Cardiff Challenge), the UK Science Media Centre, contributed to and participated in television (a BBC Wales documentary, Breakfast TV and news items), radio (Radio 4 Today programme, national and local radio stations).
National and international web podcasts and films on ADHD include:
Overview of current research
- My currently active grants and lead supervision roles all focus on neurodevelopmental disorders.
- The first group of projects focus on ADHD. These include 2 Wellcome Trust post-doctoral fellowships on: i) sex differences, (ii) ADHD in 22q11 micro-deletion syndrome.
- The second group of projects focus on a broader range of neurodevelopmental disorders.These include projects on (i) the natural history of childhood neurodevelopmental disorders from childhood to adult life and the contribution of early environmental exposures and genetic risks, (ii) the link between childhood neurodevelopmental disorder and adolescent mood disorder in ALSPAC and in a patient sample; (iii) the feasibility of a research unit in neurodevelopmental disorders for 5 to 8 year olds that interfaces with schools/education; (iv) genetic-environment interplay in relation to neurodevelopmental disorders in those born very preterm; (v) the impact of psychiatric risk alleles and environmental stressors on child/adolescent neurodevelopmental problems and trajectories in the ALSPAC and NCDS population cohorts.
Current Funded Projects
- Wellcome Trust Collaborative Award: What happens to children with neurodevelopmental disorders when they grow up and why?
- Waterloo Foundation Trust: Feasibility Study of a Neurodevelopmental Disorders Assessment Unit
- MRC: Preterm birth and neuropsychiatric genetic risks
- Wellcome Trust ISSF: Adult outcomes of childhood neurodevelopment problems
- Wellcome Trust: Chronic Irritability in ADHD: Examining the clinical and genetic links with depression (Lead Supervisor for clinical PhD fellowship – Olga Eyre)
- Wellcome Trust: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) inattention symptoms as antecedents of later psychotic outcomes in 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome and the contribution of genetic risk (Lead supervisor for Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship for Maria Niarchou)
- Wellcome Trust: A genetic study examining sex differences in the prevalence of ADHD and other neurodevelopmental disorders (Lead supervisor for Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship for Joanna Martin)
- MRC: Identifying the impact of mental disorder risk alleles on childhood neurodevelopment
- ESRC Utilising adoption-based research designs to examine the interplay between family relationship processes and child developmental outcomes.
Key selected papers
Riglin L, Collishaw S, Richards A, Thapar AK, Maughan B, O’Donovan M.C., Thapar A (2017) Schizophrenia risk alleles and neurodevelopmental outcomes in childhood: a population-based cohort study, Lancet Psychiatry 4(1):57-62.
Riglin, L., Collishaw, S., Thapar, AK., Dalsgaard, S., Langley, K., Davey Smith, G., Stergiakouli , E., Maughan, B., O’Donovan, M. & Thapar, A. Association of genetic risk variants with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder trajectories in the general population. JAMA Psychiatry. 1;73(12):1285-1292
Thapar A, Cooper M, Rutter M (2016) Neurodevelopmental disorders: a personal view, The Lancet Psychiatry [Epub Ahead of Print]
Rice F, Sellers R, Hammerton G, Eyre O, Bevan-Jones R, Thapar AK, Collishaw S, Harold G, Thapar A, (2016) Antecedents of new-onset major depressive disorder in adolescence: a longitudinal familial high-risk study JAMA Psychiatry [Epub ahead of print]
Thapar A, Cooper M, (2016), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, The Lancet 387(10024): 1240-50.
Thapar A, Martin J, Mick E, Arias Vásquez A, Langley K, Scherer SW, Schachar R, Crosbie J, Williams N, Franke B, Elia J, Glessner J, Hakonarson H, Owen MJ, Faraone SV, O'Donovan MC, Holmans P. (2015) Psychiatric gene discoveries shape evidence on ADHD's biology. Mol Psychiatry. [Epub ahead of print]
- Martin, J., Hamshere, M. L., Stergiakouli, E., O'Donovan, M. C., & Thapar A. (2014) Genetic risk for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder contributes to neurodevelopmental traits in the general population. Biol Psychiatry, 76(8):664-71.
- Hamshere M, Langley K, Martin J, Agah S, Stergiakouli E, Anney, R, Buitelaar JK, Farone S, Lesch PK, Neale, B, Franke, B, Sonuga-Barke E, Asherson P, Merwood A, Kuntsi J, Medland S, Ripke S, Steinhausen H-C, Freitag C, Reif A, Renner T, Romanos M, Romanos J, Warnke A, Meyer J, Palmason H, Arias-Vásquez A, Rommelse N, Roeyers, H, Biederman J, Doyle A, Hakonarson, H, Rothenberger, A, Banaschewski T, Oades, R, McGough, J, Kent L, Williams N, Owen MJ, Holmans P, O’Donovan MC, Thapar A (2013). High loading of polygenic risk for ADHD in those with comorbid aggression, Am J Psychiatry,170(8):909-16
- Langley K, Heron J, Smith GD, Thapar A. (2012). Maternal and Paternal Smoking During Pregnancy and Risk of ADHD Symptoms in Offspring: Testing for Intrauterine Effects.Am. J. Epidemiol. (2012) 176(3): 261-268
- Stergiakouli E, Hamshere M, Holmans P, Langley K, Zaharieva I; decode Genetics; Psychiatric GWAS Consortium, Hawi Z, Kent L, Gill M, Williams N, Owen MJ, O’Donovan MC, Thapar A. (2012). Investigating the contribution of common genetic variants to the risk and pathogenesis of ADHD. Am J Psychiatry. 169(2):186-94. .
- Williams NM, Zaharieva I, Martin A, Langley K, Mantripragada K, Fossdal R, Steffansson H, Stefansson K, Magnssuon P, Gudmundsson OO, Gustafsson O, Holmans P, Owen MJ, O’Donovan MC, Thapar A. (2010). Rare chromosomal deletions and duplications in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: a genome-wide analysis. Lancet. 376(9750): 1401-1408.
- Langley K, Heron J, O’Donovan MC, Owen MJ, Thapar A. (2010) Genotype link with extreme antisocial behaviour: the contribution of cognitive pathways. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 67(12): 1317-1323.
- Thapar A, Rice F, Hay D, Boivin J, Langley K, Van den Bree MB, Rutter M, Harold G.(2009) Prenatal smoking might not cause ADHD: evidence from a novel design. Biological Psychiatry. 66(8): 722-727.
- Rice F, Harold GT, Boivin J, Hay D, Van den Bree MB, Thapar A. (2009) Disentangling prenatal and inherited influences in humans with an experimental design. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. USA, 106 (7): 2464-2467.
Selected previous projects
- Wellcome Trust Programme Grant. Identifying susceptibility genes for ADHD with antisocial behaviour as a covariate.
- Wellcome Trust Project grant. Disentangling genetic, intrauterine and environmental influences on childhood psychopathology using a novel method.
- Medical Research Council project grant. Antisocial behaviour in young people with ADHD: identifying risk pathways.
- Action Medical Research project grant. Detecting chromosomal anomalies in children with ADHD and mental retardation using microarray based comparative genomic hybridisation.
- The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) project grant. Family and genetic influences on children's psychological development.