Faculty of Medical Sciences

Staff Profile

Professor John O'Brien

Strategic Research Adviser



Position: Visiting  Professor of Old Age Psychiatry, Institute of Neuroscience, and Honorary Consultant in Old Age Psychiatry, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Trust. Also Professor of Old Age Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge.

Roles and Responsibilities

NIHR National Specialty Lead for Dementias
Deputy Editor International Psychogeriatrics
Board Member of the International Psychogeriatric Association
Past-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

  • improving the diagnosis and management of Lewy body dementia

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 NIHR funded study (DIAMOND-Lewy) aimed at improving the diagnosis and management of Lewy body dementia as well as various studies developing and applying imaging biomarkers to dementia and late life depression