Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care


Samantha Lawes

Samantha Lawes picture

My PhD Title: Depression and inflammation: implications for cardiovascular risk

Supervisor: Dr Livia Carvalho/ Professor Andrew Steptoe

Lay summary: Extensive evidence exists for an association between depression and inflammation, however the mechanisms involved are not clearly understood. Current findings suggest a role for pro-inflammatory cytokines and their interaction with neuroendocrine function. However a new area of research also points to a potential role for adaptive immunity and the function of regulatory T cells. My PhD investigates associations between the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and TNF-a, and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function and explores the regulatory T cell phenotype in patients with symptoms of depression. In addition a longitudinal study explores the combined effect of depressive symptoms and inflammation on cardiovascular risk.

My Background

During my time as a taught student I volunteered for a local mental health support group and conducted some qualitative research for MIND. I also worked as a Research Assistant in the UCL School of Pharmacy and the UCL Centre for Behaviour Change. During my MSc I became interested in psychobiology and in particular the way that psychological symptoms can impact physical health. On completion of my MSc I was awarded a British Heart Foundation 4-year PhD studentship and decided to focus my research on the relationship between depression, inflammation and cardiovascular risk. I spent one year in Cardiovascular Genetics developing my laboratory skills before embarking on my PhD. I have particularly enjoyed the interdisciplinary nature of my work and have developed an interest in combining research from different fields to provide a more integrated view of health.


BSc (Hons) Psychology

MSc Health Psychology


British Heart Foundation Cardiovascular Biomedicine 4-year PhD studentship


Combined influence of depressive symptoms and systemic inflammation on cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality: evidence for differential effects by gender in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing

Lawes, S., Demakakos, P., Steptoe, A., Lewis, G. & Carvalho, L. (Under review)


Research Assistant: UCL School of Pharmacy

Research Assistant: UCL Centre for Behaviour Change

Contact details Samantha.lawes.13@ucl.ac.uk