Professor Anita Thapar
Professor, Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences
I am a clinician scientist. My primary interests are in child neurodevelopmental disorders and depression. I was Lead Editor (Joint) of the 6th Edition of Rutter’s Child and Adolescent Psychiatry-the leading textbook for clinicians and scientists.
I head the academic Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Section in the Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences and the developmental disorders group within the MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics and Division. I also have honorary NHS consultant contracts with Cwm Taf and Cardiff and Vale UHBs.
My wider roles include:
Teaching/training of medical and psychology/biomedical students and trainee NHS clinicians
Translation of our research into policy including Welsh Government Together for Children and Young Peoples Programme on child and adolescent mental health (neurodevelopmental and early help and enhanced support work streams).
I am also on the board of the UK national neurodiversity charity ADHD Foundation.
Education and Qualifications
- 1995: PhD 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. Clinical Professor
- Visiting Professor, School of Psychology, University of Sussex
- Honorary Professor, MRC Integrated Epidemiology Unit, University of Bristol
Honours and awards
UK Professor of Psychiatry Club: Academic Women in Psychiatry Award (joint) for enhancing the careers of academic women in psychiatry 2017
Learned Society of Wales: Frances Hoggan Medal for outstanding research by women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Medicine or Mathematics. 2017
Queen’s Honours: CBE for services to Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 2017
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
- Elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (FMedSci) 2011, UK
- Elected Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales 2011, Wales
- Elected 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
- Academy of Medical Sciences
- Royal College of Psychiatrists
- Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health
- UK Child and Adolescent Research Society
- 1996-1999: Senior Lecturer, Manchester University
- 1991-1995: MRC Clinical Research Fellow, University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff
- 1990-1995 (career break for children) Clinical training in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
- 1986-1989 Clinical Training in Psychiatry
- 1985 Junior doctor posts in Medicine, Surgery
Committees and reviewing
Selected panels, advisory and editorial boards
- 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.
- Member of the American Psychiatric Association Review Committee on Neurodevelopmental Disorders [Intellectual Disability, Learning Disorders, Communication Disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Motor Disorders, ADHD].
- Associate Editor and member of the Editorial Board of the American Journal of Psychiatry
- The Lancet Psychiatry Advisory Board
Member of consultation panel for the National Institute for Health’s Research Development of a Ten Year Strategy for Mental Health - Children and Young People.
Learned Society of Wales’ A1 Scrutiny Committee Panel
Corresponding Member of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
- Wellcome Trust Public Health and Tropical Medicine Interview Committee Member
- Member of the Academy of Medical Sciences Sectional Committee
- Member of the Academy of Medical Sciences Academic Careers Committee
- Wellcome Trust Cognitive and Higher Systems Funding Committee
- Secretary and treasurer of the UK Child Psychiatry Research Society
PublicationsWe are currently unable to retrieve the list of publications. Visit our institutional repository.
- Academic mentor for undergraduates
- Lecture and examining: intercalated BSc Psychology
Overview of current research
My research focuses on adolescent depression, ADHD and additional neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g. autism spectrum disorder) from 0 to 25 years.
My mission is to address questions that have clinical relevance.
Currently funded research projects
- Wolfson Centre for Youth Mental Health: £10 million.
- Wellcome Trust Collaborative Award: What happens to children with neurodevelopmental disorders when they grow up and why? £875,937
Medical Research Council: Early-onset depression: characterising development and identifying risks £751,680.21
Economic and Social Research Council: Psychosocial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic: Identifying mental health problems and supporting wellbeing in vulnerable children and families £410,210
Waterloo Foundation Trust: Neurodevelopmental Disorders Assessment Unit £160,458
MRC: The mental health and wellbeing of youth in care and care-leavers: Development of a national collaborative research agenda £91,356.13
MRC Mental Health Data Pathfinder: Integrating genetic, clinical and phenotypic data to advance stratification, prediction and treatment in mental health £971,676
MQ: Adolescent Data Platform, £799, 963 (led at Swansea)
MRC Mental Health Data Pathfinder: MytHICAL- Mental Health Informatics in Children, Adolescents and young adults. How do my feelings become numbers? £708,219
Overseas named and costed collaborations:
NIMH for research on irritability and anxiety (Wellcome Trust with Leibenluft, Pine and Brotman)
Karolinksa Institutet (Rosenquist): Swedish Research Council for Health Working Life and Welfare (Stockholm) using genetically informative study designs to assess causal early life risks for neurodevelopmental disorders £399,000
Norwegian Institute of Public Health (Havdahl and Reichborn-Knerrud): Understanding development of mental health problems in the population utilizing large-scale health data and novel molecular genetic methods 9949000 NOK
Key review papers
Thapar A, Collishaw S, Pine DS, Thapar AK. (2012). Depression in adolescence. Lancet. 379(9820):1056-67T
Thapar A, Rutter M, (2019) Do natural experiments have an important future in the study of mental disorders? Psychological Medicine4:1-10
- Thapar A, (2018) Discoveries on the Genetics of ADHD in the 21st Century: New Findings and Their Implications American Journal of Psychiatry 1;175(10):943-950
Thapar A, Cooper M, Rutter M (2017) Neurodevelopmental disorders, Lancet Psychiatry 4(4):339-346.
Selected original papers
- Riglin L, Eyre O, Thapar AK, Stringaris A, Leibenluft E, Pine D, Tilling K, Davey Smith G, O’Donovan MC, Thapar A, (2019) Identifying novel types of irritability using a developmental genetic approach. American Journal of Psychiatry, Jul 1; 176(8): 635–642
- Riglin L, Leppert B, Dardani C, Thapar AK, Rice F, O'Donovan MC, Davey Smith G, Stergiakouli E, Tilling K, Thapar A. (2020) ADHD and depression: investigating a causal explanation. Psychol Med. 6:1-8. doi: 10.1017/S0033291720000665. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 32249726.
- Eyre O., Hughes R.A., Thapar A.K., Leibenluft E., Stringaris A., Davey Smith G., Stergiakouli E., Collishaw S., Thapar A., (2019) Childhood neurodevelopmental difficulties and risk for adolescent depression: the role of irritability Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry [Epub ahead of print]
Rice, F., Riglin, L., Thapar, A.K., Heron, J., Anney, R., O’Donovan, M.C., Thapar, A. (2018) Characterizing Developmental Trajectories and the Role of Neuropsychiatric Genetic Risk Variants in Early-Onset Depression. JAMA Psychiatry 76(3): 306-313
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.
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
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
Collishaw S, Hammerton G, Mahedy L, Sellers R, Owen MJ, Craddock N, Thapar AK, Harold GT, Rice F, Thapar A (2016) Mental health resilience in the adolescent offspring of parents with depression: a prospective longitudinal study; Lancet Psychiatry, 3(1):49-57
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.
- 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
Sir Jules Thorn Medical Trust Programme Grant. Predicting and preventing adolescent depression. Lead applicant. £993,393.
Wellcome Trust Programme Grant. Identifying susceptibility genes for ADHD with antisocial behaviour as a covariate. Lead applicant
- Wellcome Trust Project grant. Disentangling genetic, intrauterine and environmental influences on childhood psychopathology using a novel method. Lead applicant
- Wellcome Trust Project Grant. Depression at 17: ALSPAC. Co-applicant.
- The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) project grant. Family and genetic influences on children's psychological development.
Child and adolescent/youth mental health from 0 to 25 years
PhD Students and destinations
Olga Eyre. Awarded 2019. Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Training Fellowship - Chronic Irritability in ADHD: Examining the clinical and genetic links with depression. Welsh Clinical Academic Trainee.
Sharifah Syed. Awarded 2018 NHS staff. Part time PhD. Exploring associations between parental psychopathology and markers of severity in children with ADHD. Honorary Lecturer.
Rhys Bevan Jones 2016 Clinical NIHR Fellowship Developing and evaluating an online psycho-education package for adolescent depression. Awarded NIHR post-doc clinical fellowship.
Gemma Hammerton 2016 Explaining risk for suicidal ideation in adolescent offspring of depressed parents. Senior Research Associate, University of Bristol. Awarded Sir Henry Wellcome Trust Postdoctoral Fellowship. At Bristol University.
Joanna Martin. 2015. Genetics of ADHD and ASD related traits. Awarded Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship, Cardiff University
Miriam Cooper. 2014, An imaging study of ADHD and autism. NHS Consultant Neurodevelopmental Service, Cwm Taf University Health Board.
Ruth Sellers. 2013 Antisocial behaviour in the offspring of depressed parents. ESRC Young Leaders Post Doctoral Research Fellow and Senior Lecturer. University of Sussex
Becky Mars. 2013 A longitudinal family study of depression. Post Doctoral Fellowship. University of Bristol
Gemma Lewis. 2012. Gene-environment interplay in depression. Postdoctoral researcher at UCL.
Evie Stergiakouli 2011 Genetics of Sex Differences in neurodevelopmental disorders – study of the Y chromosome. Lecturer, University of Bristol
Kate Lifford 2009. ESRC/MRC PhD studentship awardee. Gene-environment interplay and ADHD. Post Doc Research Associate, Institute of Primary Care and Public Health, Cardiff University
Kate Langley 2004 ADHD. Wellcome Trust VIP Awardee. Senior Lecturer, School of Psychology, Cardiff University
Tom Fowler 2003 Chronic Fatigue, Deputy Chief Scientist, Chief of Public Health. Genomics England
Frances Rice 2002 Adolescent Depression. Reader, Cardiff University
Research translation to Policy and Practice
2020 – 2022 Government Policy: Member of Welsh Health Collaborative’s Together for Children and Young People T4CYP (2) Neurodevelopmental Steering Group; Neurodiversity advisory panel; Early Help and Enhanced Support Work Stream
2020 – 2025 Board member for UK Patient Charity: ADHD Foundation
2021 – 2026 Member of European ADHD Guidelines Group (EAGG)
2016 Member of consultation panel for the National Institute for Health’s Research Development of a Ten Year Strategy f for Mental Health - Children and Young People.
2015 - 2019 Expert Reference Group member of 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 child and adolescent mental health service improvement plans in Wales
Other panel memberships and boards
Ruane Prize Committee, Brain & Behavior Research Foundation USA
The Lancet Psychiatry Journal Advisory Board
Associate Editor American Journal of Psychiatry
Member of the American Psychiatric Association Review Committee on Neurodevelopmental Disorders [Intellectual Disability, Learning Disorders, Communication Disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Motor Disorders, ADHD].
We have a track record of working with the media on child and adolescent mental health, especially around ADHD.
I have 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) on ADHD and adolescent depression.
National and international web podcasts and films on ADHD include: