University College London (UCL) is ranked the top university in the UK for research in Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience. We undertake world-leading research and teaching in mind, brain & behaviour.
The UCL Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit (CPU) researches how drugs act on the brain to influence human cognition, behaviour and emotion. Using classic behavioural and neuropsychological tools as well as psycho-physiological recordings and neuroimaging, we study the short- and long-term effects of drugs used 'recreationally’ and/or medically. One main current focus is on the effects of different types of cannabis. Another is linking drugs and schizophrenic-like symptoms, assessing effects of cannabis and of psychedelic drugs like ketamine. We also develop treatments for substance use disorders. A key question our work aims to address is: why are some individuals more vulnerable than others to the harmful effects of drugs?
Professor Val Curran is Director of the UCL Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit and for over 20 years has been researching the human effects of a wide range of illicit and licit psychoactive drugs. She is a recognized international expert on the acute and chronic effects of MDMA, ketamine and cannabis. For the current project she will be leader on the web survey; she has relevant experience having previously carried out both a UK National and an international web survey of illicit drug users and their experiences. Valerie is also Research Lead at a London NHS Drug Service and a member of the charity Drug Science. Her research occurs in many contexts and uses a wide range of methodologies (e.g. brain imaging studies of acute effects of illicit drugs; setting up laboratories in dance clubs; quantitative and qualitative research with chronic drug users).
Dr Tom Freeman is a Senior Research Fellow at the National Addiction Centre, King's College London, funded by the Society for the Study of Addiction. Tom has ample experience in research on the acute and chronic effects of controlled drugs (e.g. cannabis, ketamine, MDMA, heroin), novel psychoactive substances or ‘legal highs’, alcohol and tobacco. He uses a variety of research methods including ecological studies, longitudinal designs, international surveys and experimental psychopharmacology. He has a proven track record of delivering projects on time and within budget, publishing in high-impact peer-reviewed international journals, and communicating science to the public and policy makers.
Dr Claire Mokrysz is a Research Associate at UCL Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit and is interested in the acute and longer term effects of recreational drug use. Her research primarily focuses on the cognitive and neural effects of adolescent cannabis use, and whether starting to use cannabis at a young age increases risks of harms. She also has a keen interest in links between drug use and mental wellbeing, and in the development of effective harm reduction strategies. She has experience using various research methodologies, including experimental psychopharmacology, epidemiology, brain imaging, and ethnographic interviewing. She has published in high-impact peer-reviewed international journals, written numerous blogs about drugs research for a range of online outlets, and provided public engagment sessions at schools, festivals and other events across the UK.
Jon Waldron is an ESRC-funded PhD student at UCL Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit interested in the long term and short term effects of drug use. For his PhD, Jon is working on a project exploring longitudinal trajectories of drug use in the European nightlife scene. Jon is also interested in the associations between drug use and mental health, harm reduction and drug use motivations. He has experience using a range of research methodologies, including working on the Global Drug Survey, and handling large and complex data sets resulting in a number of publications in high-impact, international peer-reviewed journals.
Meryem is currently working as a research associate at the Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit at the University College London. She received her PhD from the University of Bristol in 2017. Her PhD research focussed on the investigation of the effect of smoking abstinence on cognitive performance and craving in regular smokers. Using these as treatment markers she developed a human behavioural model of tobacco withdrawal to test the effectiveness of new smoking cessation treatments.
Her main research interests are the development of treatments for substance use as well as research on drug use pathways that might ultimately inform policy, for both licit and illicit substances.