UCL Institute of Mental Health

Prof Rob Howard

Prof Rob Howard

Professor of Old Age Psychiatry

Mental Health of Older People

Division of Psychiatry

Joined UCL
1st Mar 2023

Research summary

I work to develop and evaluate better treatments for people with dementiaand for psychosis in older people by investigating the mechanisms ofsymptoms and through the conduct of independent clinical trials. For example, our trials have shown the cognitive, functional and independentliving 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). Currently, I am trialling 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 olderpeople can be treated most effectively and safely through optimising the use ofexisting antipsychotics and investigating the potential of novel and repurposed agents (e.g. ondansetron in the TOP HAT trial). We're working with Emma McLachlan and Neil Burgess at theICN to understand how dysfunction of thehippocampus and associated structures might underpin confabulation and delusionformation in AD. 

With Kathy Liu 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.  

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.


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.