The Department would like to extend congratulations to Dr Graham Murray who has recently been appointed as University Lecturer in Psychiatry and honorary consultant psychiatrist. Julia Graham caught up with him to discuss his research and his plans for the new role.
Dr Murray first came to Cambridge in 2000 to begin his clinical psychiatry training, not long after qualifying as a doctor. The strong research record in Cambridge was something that attracted him from the start, and early on he started working with Professor Peter Jones. This initial work focused on cognition in schizophrenia and in the general population as well as developmental influences on adult cognition.
Dr Murray continued on to a PhD focusing on cognitive developmental epidemiology. He completed this through the University of Oulu in Finland, alongside completing his clinical training.
Since then, Dr Murray’s work has concentrated on the links between biological and psychological aspects of psychotic symptomology, supported by grants from the Department of Health and the Medical Research Council. This work has used both brain imaging and some computational modelling.
In his new role in the department, Graham will continue both streams of work, looking at links between brain and mind in psychotic disorder and also at cognitive epidemiology. In particular, his focus will be on the brain mechanisms of motivation and reward and how they might be relevant for psychiatric disorder.
Although this area has been somewhat neglected in the past, Dr Murray insists that motivation and reward processing may link to particular negative and depressive symptoms in many disorders. Graham aims to continue work on the biology and phenomenology of apathy and anhedonia in different psychiatric conditions to understand if aspects of these symptoms remain constant between conditions, irrespective of diagnosis.
To extend this, Dr Murray is also interested in how disruption of learning and motivational systems may be linked to delusional symptoms in psychosis. There is a well-established but poorly-understood link between dopamine disruption and the clinical manifestation of psychotic symptoms. Dr Murray’s work will investigate this further: he believes that dopamine’s role in learning about motivational importance is critical in understanding how dopamine dysregulation underpins psychotic symptom formation.
The news team look forward to reporting on the outcomes of these exciting projects.