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Professor Anita Thapar

Professor Anita Thapar

Professor, Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences

School of Medicine

+44 (0)29 2068 8478
3.07, Hadyn Ellis Building, Maindy Road, Cardiff, CF24 4HQ
Media commentator
Available for postgraduate supervision

I  am passionate about Child and Adolescent /Youth Psychiatry research, clinical services and training and mentoring practitioners and scientists.

I established Wales' first academic Child and Adolescent Psychiatry/Youth Section and  direct it within the MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics and Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences. I am clinically qualified. 

I am also a senior investigator in the National Centre for Mental Health (,Wales' first Biomedical Research Centre.

My research is developmental and focuses on adolescent depression,  irritability and neurodevelopmental disorders from 0 to 25 years.

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

Career overview

Current posts:

  • 1999 - present: Cardiff University School of Medicine. Clinical Professor
  • Visiting Professor, School of Psychology, University of Sussex
  • Senior Research Scientist, 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

Professional memberships

  • Academy of Medical Sciences
  • Royal College of Psychiatrists
  • Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health
  • UK Child and Adolescent Research Society

Academic positions

  • 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

Previous selected

  • 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































Undergraduate teaching

  • Academic mentor for undergraduates
  • Lecture and examining:  intercalated BSc Psychology

Postgraduate teaching

Lectures and placements

  • MRC Centre and Wellcome Trust PhD programme: rotation placements in child, adolescent/youth mental health 

Current PhD students

  • Olga Eyre, Wellcome Trust clinical research fellow

External mentorship

  • I am an Academy of Medical Sciences mentor for two clinician scientists
  • I am Royal College of Psychiatrists mentor for a junior psychiatrist

Public engagement

We have a track record of working with the media on child and adolescent mental health

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:

Challenge Cardiff interview

ADHD Facts and Fiction (public lecture)

Last Chance Saloon (short film/documentary)

Ruane Prize winner (short film)

Overview of current research

My current funded research focuses on youth depression and neurodevelopmental disorders from 0 to 25 years.

My mission is to address questions that have clinical relevance.

Current Funded Projects

  • 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

  • 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

  • Wellcome Trust ISSF3 Public Engagement Proof-of-Concept Award: Developing a short animation on what it means to have ADHD. £4,988

  • Waterloo Foundation Trust: Feasibility Study of a Neurodevelopmental     Disorders Assessment Unit £287,778. 

  • Wellcome Trust Clinical Fellowship Lead supervisor: Chronic Irritability in ADHD: Examining the clinical and genetic links with depression  

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 reviews

  • 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 (2016) Neurodevelopmental disorders: a personal view, The Lancet Psychiatry [Epub Ahead of Print]

Selected original papers

  • Riglin L, Hammerton G, Heron J, Collishaw S, Arseneault L, Thapar AK, Maughan B, O’Donovan MC, Thapar A, (2019). Developmental Contributions of Schizophrenia Risk Alleles and Childhood Peer Victimization to Early-Onset Mental Health Trajectories American Journal of Psychiatry 176(1):36-43

  • 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

Clinically relevant research

Past projects

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


19 – 20 March



Invited Speaker - Academy of Medical Sciences - Developing brain in health and disease





24 – 30 April


25 – 26 April (Conf)



Invited speaker 7th World Congress on ADHD



Lisbon, Portugal



17 May



Key note speaker; NHS Conference






1-2  July



Key note speaker: International Congress of the Royal College of Psychiatrists









12 – 13 July


Key note Speaker at Conference


University of Chile







13 September



Invited speaker : Users and practitioners; UKAAN Conference

Mermaid Conference and Events Centre, London



18 – 20 September



Invited speaker: Eunethydis


Nijmegen, Netherlands



2 and 3 October




Invited speaker: ADHD Foundation National Conference





7 – 8 October



Invited speaker


University Menedezs Pelayo, Barcelona