UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology


Adolescent mental health experts receive 2018 Emerging Leaders Prize

1 November 2018

Two UCL researchers have been awarded with the Medical Research Foundation’s 2018 Emerging Leaders Prize, taking home first and second prize respectively, for their strong contribution to the field of adolescent mental health.

Tobias Hauser and John Baptiste Pingault

The annual Emerging Leaders Prize recognises researchers in the early stages of independent research who have already had an impact in their field.

Dr Jean-Baptiste Pingault, Associate Professor in the Division of Psychology & Language Sciences, won £100k (1st prize) for his work, which aims to understand causes of adolescent mental health problems, to help design tools for prevention.

Dr Pingault follows a genetically informed approach to his research, to better identify factors that influence risk of poor mental health in adolescence. His research suggests that repeated intervention at different stages is more effective than one-off early intervention to improve mental health in teenagers.

Of winning the prize, Dr Jean-Baptiste Pingault said: “I was elated! The fact that the Medical Research Foundation chose to award a prize in adolescent mental health research is extremely positive. It’s also validation that the research that I have undertaken is interesting to the field in general, and hopefully, in the longer term, can bring some positive changes in mental health research.”

Dr Pingault said the prize will go towards further research to map out causal risk factors leading to poor adolescent mental health starting with intergenerational risk factors.

The Emerging Leaders Prize is flexible, meaning the winners decide how best to use it to further their research.

Dr Tobias Hauser, Senior Research Associate at the UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology, was awarded with £80k (2nd prize)  for his work exploring big data and how it can be used to potentially reveal biomarkers indicative of adolescent mental health problems.

“Throughout my academic career I have been interested in the neurological mechanisms that underlie adolescent mental health problems. This prize is therefore an extraordinary recognition of my research and I am truly honoured that the Medical Research Foundation believes that my work will have a lasting impact on our understanding of adolescent mental health,” said Dr Hauser.

Dr Hauser has recently started his own Developmental Computational Psychiatry group at the Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research and the Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging.

He said the prize will allow him to investigate how cognitive processes, known to be impaired in psychiatric disorders, develop.