UCL CORE Research Themes

An introduction to our main research themes and projects.

CORE was established in 1995 to promote effectiveness based research within applied psychology. The initial focus of the unit was on outcomes research led by Dr Paul Clifford. In 2000 Professor Steve Pilling became the Director, and since that time the unit has focused on four main areas:

  1. The development of clinical guidelines, particularly in mental health
  2. The evaluation of complex interventions in mental health
  3. The evaluation and development of psychological Interventions, in particular low intensity interventions
  4. Competence frameworks for psychological interventions

Read more about our research projects below:

Mental Health Guidelines

CORE is involved in developing and implementing mental health guidelines for the National Health Service as part of the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, established in 2001 by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). The Centre is a partnership with the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych).

This work has been funded by the WHO, the World Bank, professional bodies  and national governments. It has been led by the NCCMH. The objectives of the programme have been, through appropriate education and training,  to enable  health care systems develop the capacity to develop and  implement  their own guidance. This  work has been undertaken in Italy, Georgia, Turkey, Ukraine, Korea  and the United States. The methodological work currently being undertaken in Ukraine will support the implementation of NICE 2021-2026 strategy through its methodological advances  in guideline development. The guideline development work in collaboration with colleagues at NICE and the National Guideline Alliance  has contributed to significant  methodological developments in the  use of network  meta-analysis  and the  application of health  economic modelling. This has influenced development of guidelines both nationally and  internationally and has resulted in several highly cited papers (e.g., Mavranezouli et al, 2020a (Psych Med) Mavranezouli et al, 2020b (JCCP).

  • Dr Kim Donoghue, Senior Research Associate
  • Dr Ifigeneia Mavranezouli, Senior Research Fellow
  • Phoebe Barnett, PhD Candidate
  • Iyinoluwa Oshinowo, Research Assistant


CORE Data Lab

The CORE data lab is led by Prof Steve Pilling, Dr Rob Saunders, Dr Joshua Buckman & Dr Ciarán O’Driscoll. It brings together expertise in data science and clinical research to better understand and inform the management of mental health problems, and improve treatment outcomes through the use of novel data analytic techniques.

The lab leads a range of projects, with a particular focus on developing methods for working with complex healthcare datasets that can inform clinical practice. This includes data from clinical trials, longitudinal cohort studies, and routine clinical and hospital datasets. CORE data lab has led national evaluations which have informed the roll-out of mental health interventions, including parent training programmes and integrated physical and mental health services. The lab is the home of the Dep-GP project and NCEL IAPT SIRN datasets which have been instrumental in developing individual patient and predictive modelling methodologies that might be applied in routine care.

The future aims of the CORE Data Lab are to further develop novel analytic methods such as the use of computer adaptive testing to support improved assessment, and the development of relapse prevention interventions in common mental health disorders. The Lab takes on a number of post-graduate students each year on data analytic projects, and has a strong record in student support and development.

  • Professor Steve Pilling, Director CORE
  • Dr Rob Saunders, Data Analytics
  • Dr Ciaran O'Driscoll, PhD Candidate
  • Dr Josh Buckman, Clinical Research Fellow

ODDESSI (Open Dialogue: Development and Evaluation of a Social Network Intervention for Severe Mental Illness) is a large-scale programme of research into crisis and continuing mental health care within the NHS. This programme is directed by Professor Steve Pilling (UCL), funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) and managed by North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT). The study will run from 2017-2022 in five NHS Trust research sites. The development of  methods and support structures to support the implementation of complex mental health interventions in international  health care systems.

  • Katherine Clarke, Trial Manager
  • Shaeda Nourmand, Research Assistant
  • Georgie Parker, Research Assistant