British Association for Pyschopharmacology. To advance education and research in the science of psychopharmacology
Launched in 2008 in memory of Rob’s long-standing support of BAP, this year's bursaries were awarded to Michael Browning (Oxford) and Christoph Anacker (London).
Professor Rob Kerwin was instrumental in advising, supporting and acting as mentor for numerous people early in their careers in psychopharmacology. To commemorate this, the Council of the British Association for Psychopharmacology introduced annual bursaries in 2008, to be awarded in his name.
The bursaries are available to individuals who are current Members of BAP and have held their membership for a minimum of 6 months. Applicants will be studying for a higher degree (PhD, MD) or will have been awarded such a degree in the last 3 years. Each bursary covers travel expenses and the registration fee for an international conference, together with subsistence. The conference could be held in the UK, but should be international, and will take place between July of the current year and June of the next year.
Bursary recipients are expected to attend the BAP Summer Meeting and also write an article for the BAP Newsletter.
Applications for 2013 have now closed.
2012 Robert Kerwin International Conference Bursaries
We were very pleased to receive applications from a number of BAP Members. The 2012 Awards were made to Michael Browning (Oxford), to attend the Anxiety Disorders Association of America Annual Conference, and Christoph Anacker (London), to attend the Society of Biological Psychiatry Annual Conference in May 2013.
Meeting Report from Michael Browning:
I was honoured to be awarded a Robert Kerwin International Bursary to support my attendance at the annual meeting of the Anxiety Disorders Association of America which took place in Washington between 12 - 15 April.
I am an academic Psychiatrist based in Oxford where I completed a PhD under the supervision of Catherine Harmer, Emily Holmes and Guy Goodwin. I had previously completed my psychiatric training in London and Oxford. Following my PhD I worked for a further year in the Department of Psychiatry in Oxford and have recently moved to the Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain (FMRIB) centre in the John Radcliffe hospital where I work with Sonia Bishop. My research has examined the neurocognitive mechanisms by which the treatments for anxiety and depression are thought to work. I use behavioural and neuroimaging techniques to try and understand how treatments are able to alter information processing habits in non-clinical and clinical populations. The direction of my research was inspired by the work of two of my supervisors; Catherine Harmer who has examined the cognitive mechanisms of antidepressant medications and Emily Holmes who has pioneered the use of “Cognitive Bias Modification” (CBM) procedures which are simple computer based tasks which alter cognitive habits through learning. These two very different forms of intervention have been found to improve symptoms of anxiety and also appear to have similar effects on cognitive function. My research initially examined the neural mechanisms by which CBM alters cognition. This revealed that, in contrast to antidepressant medication which alters amygdala function, CBM exerts an initial effect on cognition by influencing frontal brain areas. This finding raised an interesting supplementary question; if the two interventions produce similar changes in cognitive habit by actions on distinct neural systems, what effect is produced when the two interventions are combined? In other words, does addition of antidepressant medication to CBM lead to additive or interference effects on cognitive function? I addressed this question in a subsequent behavioural study which demonstrated that when the two interventions were added together they had a smaller cognitive effect than when they were administered separately. Thus, from a cognitive perspective at least, the combination of antidepressant medication and CBM was less effective than either of the interventions given on its own.
Generally, there was quite a bit of interest in CBM research at the conference with lots of separate research groups getting to grips with it as an experimental tool to examine the cognitive aetiology of anxiety, and as a possible therapeutic intervention for anxious and depressed patients. The specific symposium at which I was talking included four presentations on the neurocognitive mechanisms of CBM and was well attended, and I think, well received.
I am very grateful to the BAP for giving me this bursary to attend the ADAA meeting. The opportunity to present my work to an international audience of clinical and basic researchers was invaluable. The transition from a junior to an independent researcher can be challenging and, by allowing me to disseminate the results of my research, the Robert Kerwin bursary has (hopefully) helped me in this process.
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