Inspiring Careers: Dr Paul Wilkinson

Name: Dr Paul Wilkinson

Job title: University Lecturer & Honorary Consultant in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Undergraduate Psychiatry Speciality Director.

Paul is both a clinical psychiatrist and academic researcher. His main research interest is the intermediate biology and cognitions of adolescent depression, in particular how such intermediate variables mediate associations between genotype, environment and disorder. The main intermediate variable he is interested in is the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. He also investigates non-suicidal self-injury; and the treatment and prognosis of adolescent depression, including how genes and hormones moderate response to treatment.

1. Why did you choose psychiatry?

I chose psychiatry because at medical school I found the workings of the mind much more interesting than the workings of the rest of the body.  I  also believed (correctly) that psychiatry would give me the time to spend with patients getting to know about them in much more detail, and to treat  them holistically (physical, psychological and social).

2. What do you do now as a psychiatrist?

As a clinical academic, I have a great combination of roles in my job: clinical, research, teaching and service development.  Clinically, I am a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist, and a lot of my work involves assessing and treating depressed adolescents.  I carry out research into the biological basis of psychiatric disorders and how biological markers may influence response to treatment.  My main teaching role is leading the Cambridge undergraduate psychiatry course, but I also carry out a wide range of other teaching, including on depression, research methods and genetics. I am involved in improving the delivery of evidence-based treatments at local and national levels.  It is great to have the opportunity to do all these things in my job.

3. One key publication interested students should read:

This review (Full text | PubMed link) demonstrates how depression isn’t just sadness in response to life events.  It demonstrates the complex interplay between environmental adversity, genes, hormone systems and depression.

4. Cambridge Neuroscience profile.