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Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry

History of the Division
Psychopharmacology has long been a key interest of the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, given that joint appointment staff use psychiatric medications as a key intervention in our psychiatric health care services, and given that pharmacotherapy is a key curriculum area at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.  In recent years, the Department has also seen substantial growth in 3 related areas of research:  1) neuroimaging, 2) neurogenetics, and 3) neuroscience.  The Department has been home to a UCT signature theme, the “Brain-Behaviour Initiative”, a multi-disciplinary cross-Faculty research initiative which has in turn provided an important pillar for UCT’s planned “Neuroscience Institute”. 

The Division and the Brain-Behaviour Initiative (BBI) have been led by Prof Dan Stein, but multiple members of the Department and of the University have contributed to a broad array of clinical services, teaching, and research in psychopharmacology and biological psychiatry. Dr Fleur Howells and Prof Jack van Honk were the first lecturers appointed in the Division, Dr Nastassja Koen is the current Project Manager of the BBI.


With the shift from a Brain-Behaviour Initiative into a Neuroscience Institute, the Division is in the process of formally establishing a Brain-Behaviour Research Unit.  The Unit comprises three already existing Groups:  1) A psychiatric neuroimaging and neuropsychology group led by Jonathan Ipser and Samantha Brooks, 2) A neurogenetics group led by Nastassja Koen and Shareefa Dalvie, and 3) Neuroscience groups led by Fleur Howells and Jack van Honk. The Groups are already based in Groote Schuur’s J Block, and with the development of that Block into the home of the Neuroscience Institute, they will be well placed to engage in ongoing multi-disciplinary basic and clinical neuroscience collaborations.