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UCL Institute of Mental Health

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Prof Rob Howard

Prof Rob Howard

Professor of Old Age Psychiatry

Division of Psychiatry

Faculty of Brain Sciences

Joined UCL
1st Jun 2015

Research summary

I work to develop and evaluate better treatments for people with dementia and for psychosis in older people by investigating the mechanisms of symptoms and through the conduct of independent clinical trials. For example, our trials have shown the cognitive, functional and independent living benefits of continuing dementia drugs until the late stages of Alzheimer's disease (DOMINO) and of antipsychotic treatment in people with very late-onset schizophrenia-like psychosis (ATLAS). 

Current trials in dementia are investigating the potential AD-modifying potential of minocycline (MADE), whether technology provision can help people with dementia to remain safely in their own homes (ATTILA) and the effectiveness of problem-adaptation therapy in people with dementia who are depressed (PATHFINDER).

I work with Suzanne Reeves to identify ways in which psychosis in older people can be treated most effectively and safely through optimising the use of existing antipsychotics and investigating the potential of novel and repurposed agents (e.g. TOPHAT trial). We're working with Emma McLachlan and Neil Burgess at the ICN to understand how dysfunction of the hippocampus and associated structures might underpin confabulation and delusion formation in AD. 

With Kathy Liu and Emrah Duzel and Dorothea Hammerer from the ICN/FIL we are investigating the structure and function of central noradrenergic pathways whose dysfunction might underlie the common and hard-to-treat agitation syndrome seen in people with AD.  

With Rohan Bhome and Jon Huntley and Steve Fleming at the FIL we are investigating the hypothesis that metacognitive deficits in people with functional memory disorders might offer a potential treatment target. 

Anxiety disorders are the most difficult mental health problems to treat successfully in older people. With Becky Gould and colleagues, we are looking at Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for this and have just completed a feasibility trial in older people with treatment resistant generalised anxiety disorder (FACTOID trial). 

Teaching summary

I am a committed and happy teacher and trainer within Psychiatry and was Dean of the Royal College of Psychiatrists from 2008 to 2012. I lecture to undergraduates, MSc students, Psychiatry trainees and anyone who will listen.

If you are considering a career in Psychiatry, specialising in Old Age Psychiatry or contemplating an academic path and trying to find advice, support or supervision, please do make an appointment to come and talk to me.

Biography

After undergraduate study at Cambridge and St Bartholomew's Hospital in London, I trained at the Maudsley and became Professor of Old Age Psychiatry and Psychopathology at King's College London in 2002. In 2015, I moved to the Division of Psychiatry at University College London.  

Publications