On Friday 13 November, Trinity College hosted the inaugural Cambridge Psychiatry Graduate Symposium.
This well-attended event was aimed at postgraduate students within the Department, so all MPhil and PhD students were invited to attend.
The day was opened by the Head of Department, Professor Ed Bullmore.
Students in their second or third year of their PhD gave 10 minute presentations on their work so far. These presentations spanned an impressive spectrum of topics, techniques and methodologies. Presentations covered disorders such as Alzheimer’s in patients with Down’s syndrome, psychotic disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Other presentations focussed on specific cognitive processes, changes in neural architecture in psychiatric populations and the genetics of emotion recognition. Methodologies ranged from meta-analyses to behavioural phenotyping to computational neuroimaging.
In addition, students were divided into groups, and asked to present posters on the basis of a quote by Thomas Kuhn:
“Scientific development depends in part on a process of non-incremental or revolutionary change. Some revolutions are large, like those associated with the names of Copernicus, Newton, or Darwin, but most are much smaller, like the discovery of oxygen or the planet Uranus”.
Students elaborated on future game-changing discoveries in psychiatry. E-health, big data and the discovery of biomarkers were recurring themes across both groups.
The academic program ended with the inaugural Sir Martin Roth lecture, in honour of the first Cambridge Professor of Psychiatry. The lecture was given by Professor Stephen Lawrie, Head of the Division of Psychiatry at Edinburgh University. His lecture was an inspiring plea for using a biopsychosocial model of psychiatry for diagnosing patients. Professor Lawrie advocated the use of diagnostic constructs, and categories in psychiatry. He urged all students to communicate their research clearly and to help reduce public controversy around psychiatry. This is particularly important in light of recent scientific funding debates.
The day ended with a drinks reception and conference dinner served in the Old Kitchens of Trinity College.
All in all, a very successful day! A huge thank you to the organising committee: Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, Professor John Suckling, Dr. Jeff Dalley, Dr. Valerie Voon, Sarah Rowe, Adisa Broadhurst, Richard Bethlehem, Varun Warrier and Elijah Mak.
Written by Hannah Jongsma.