UCL Psychology and Language Sciences

Dr Lucy Serpell

Dr Lucy Serpell

Senior Lecturer

Clinical, Edu & Hlth Psychology

Div of Psychology & Lang Sciences

Joined UCL
8th Sep 2007

Research summary

My research interests are focused on eating disorders, restrictive eating and dieting in children, adolescents and adults. I lead the Eating Disorders Research Group in the Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/pals/research/clinical-educational-and-health-psychology/research-groups/eating-disorders-research-group. I collaborate with a range of colleagues at UCL, nationally and internationally.

1. I conduct research into the neuropsychology of perseverative behaviour/thinking in anorexia nervosa and in fasting states such as 5:2 dieters. This research aims to discover what impact food restriction may have on neurocognitive processing.

2. I have an interest in improving outcomes for eating disorders. I collaborate on treatment trials into psychological therapies for eating disorders to help develop better treatments. I contribute to several national and international committees which aim to review treatment research and advise on best practice (Core Member of the 2017 NICE Guideline Development Group for Eating Disorders, Member of the Global Clinical Practice Network for the revision of the Mental and Behavioural Disorders chapter of ICD-11 and Co-chair of AED Task Force for the Development of Psychological Care Guidelines (2018-19)

3. I have an ongoing interest in motivation and the pros and cons of eating disorders as described by service users. We are currently conducting a study to examine whether the pros and cons of anorexia nervosa help to predict outcome from psychological therapy.

4. I have recently begun collaborating on research into the links between anorexia nervosa and autism. Individuals with anorexia nervosa have an increased risk of having comorbid diagnosis of autism. Our research aims to understand more about how anorexia nervosa presents in women with autism and how treatment may be adapted.

Teaching summary

UCL teaching:

I lecture DClinPsy trainees, MSc students and undergraduates on eating disorders. I am unit organiser for the DClinPsy Conference Programme. I contribute to core elements of the DClinPsy course including exam marking, case reports, leading interview panels as part of candidate selection, personal tutoring, placement visits and a range of other course duties. I have supervised to completion the research theses of over 25 DClinPsy trainees and 2 PhD students.

External teaching and training:

I offer teaching and training to professionals within the UK and internationally. Most recently I was invited to deliver specialist training on eating disorders in Milan (June 2018) and Dublin (Oct 2018). I chair an annual conference on Eating Disorders hosted at UCL (most recently held in Nov 2019). 

 External examining:

I have acted as external examiner for PhD and DClinPsy theses internationally including at the University of Leeds, University of Western Australia, Australian Catholic University, Deakin University, University of Sydney and Kings College London.


University College London
Doctorate, Doctorate in Clinical Psychology | 2004
University of London
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 2000
University of Oxford
First Degree, Bachelor of Arts (Honours) | 1993


I am currently Associate Professor in the Psychology of Eating Disorders at UCL where I lead the Eating Disorder Research Group and contribute to the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. I am also Clinical Lead for Eating Disorders at North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT) where I lead a busy lifespan eating disorder service. 

I completed my degree in Psychology & Philosophy at the University of Oxford. My PhD, into cognitive processes in anorexia nervosa, supervised by Janet Treasure and John Teasdale, was awarded by the University of London (Institute of Psychiatry) in 2000. Whilst completing the research for my PhD I worked as a research assistant on a large Wellcome funded treatment trial. After a post doctoral position in eating disorders research with young people at St Georges University of London, I joined the DClinPsy programme at UCL and graduated in 2004. After 3 years working in clinical health psychology at St Mary's Hospital I returned to UCL as a lecturer in 2007. I was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2014. I combine this with my role as Clinical Lead for Eating Disorders in North East London Foundation Trust.

I was a Core Member of the NICE Guideline Development Group for Eating Disorders (2017) and I am a member of the Global Clinical Practice Network for the revision of the Mental and Behavioural Disorders chapter of ICD-11. I was a founding member of the NHS England CYP-ED Curriculum Guideline Group. I co-authored the curriculum for the National Whole Team Training which was commissioned by Health Education England. I was a major contributor to this training which was offered to 70 new and existing NHS child and adolescent eating disorder teams (CEDS) across England from April to Dec 2017. I was a mentor to three of these teams during the training.