Institute of Neuroscience

Staff Profile

Professor John O'Brien



Position: Professor of Old Age Psychiatry, Institute for Ageing and Health, and Honorary Consultant in Old Age Psychiatry, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Trust

Roles and Responsibilities

Clinical Lead for North East Dementia and Neurodegenerative Diseases Clinical Research Network
Deputy Editor International Psychogeriatrics
Board Member of the International Psychogeriatric Association
Head of Northern Deanery Postgraduate School of Psychiatry
Lead Consultant for Newcastle Memory Clinic
President of the International College for Geriatric Psychoneuropharmacology (ICGP)
Member of Vas-Cog Executive Committee


Research Interests

My research interests include:

• the application of MR, SPECT and PET imaging in dementia and depression
• neurobiological changes (in particular the role of vascular factors) in late-life affective disorders and cognitive impairment
• dementia with Lewy bodies
• clinical trials

We are undertaking serial imaging (structural and functional MR, blood flow and ligand SPECT and PET) studies on subjects with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), dementia with Lewy bodies, Parkinson’s disease (PD) and PD dementia to elucidate i) relationships and imaging correlates of diagnosis and symptoms ii) usefulness in improving accuracy of differential diagnosis iii) markers of early diagnosis and iv) how structural and chemical changes alter with disease progression.

Current research projects include a MRC-funded study of cognitive dysfunction after stroke, a study of MR imaging in AD and DLB funded by the Jules Thorne Foundation, a study of functional MRI funded by the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, an Alzheimer’s Research Trust Fellowship to Dr Emma Burton (investigating the neuropathological basis of MR changes), a study of autonomic and imaging changes in late life depression, and a study of predictors of dementia in Parkinson’s disease.