Professor of Psychiatric & Social Epidemiology
James B. kirkbride
Professor James B. Kirkbride is Professor of Psychiatric and Social Epidemiology at UCL. James is a member of the UCL Division of Psychiatry, and founder of the PsyLife research group in 2014. His research focuses on using population-based and clinical epidemiological data to gain actionable insights into the potential way in which exposure to social determinants of health lead to inequalities in the risk of developing psychosis and other mental health problems. You can read more about his main research interests below.
James was promoted to Professor of Psychiatric and Social Epidemiology at UCL in 2021, having joined the university as a Sir Henry Dale Research Fellow (Wellcome) in 2014. Prior to this, James held a Sir Henry Wellcome Fellowship at the University of Cambridge, where he also completed a Ph.D. in Psychiatric Epidemiology in 2006, supervised by Professor Peter B. Jones. James holds an M.Sc. in Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (2003), and a First Class B.A. Honours degree in Geography, Business and the Environment from the University of Nottingham (2002). He has won numerous awards and honours including two prestigious Wellcome fellowships (2009-2019), the Robins/Guze Award from the American PsychoPathological Association (2013) and the University of Nottingham Geography Prize (2002). He is Local Organising Host of the European Psychiatric Association’s Section of Epidemiology & Social Psychiatry’s 20th Biennial Congress in Cambridge, UK, 8-10 September 2022. His research has been used to inform national and international clinical guidelines, and is frequently covered in the press including the BBC, New York Times and New Scientist.
Professor Kirkbride’s research centres on three interlinked and interdisciplinary areas.
First, using basic epidemiology and applied causal inference methods in epidemiology, his aetiological research investigates the causal explanation(s) for differences in the incidence and risk of psychotic disorders by place and person, including why people born, brought up and living in more deprived, urban environments experience greater rates of disorder. Of equal importance, the research he leads also seeks to identify the social determinants of inequalities in psychosis risk for several ethnic minority groups and some migrant groups. His research programme also focuses on inequalities in mental health service care and outcomes.
Second, he leads a programme of translational population-based research to use this epidemiological knowledge to inform public mental health, so that health care planners can make better decisions about providing primary, secondary and tertiary prevention strategies to reduce psychiatric morbidity in the population. This includes the development of the PsyMaptic prediction tool, which forecasts need for Early Intervention Psychosis care in England and other jurisdictions, which has informed NICE guidelines. You can read more about this work here. Prof Kirkbride is also co-leading a major new initiative called EPICare to deliver a national digital registry for psychosis, capable of transforming patient care and outcomes and leading to real-time, actionable insights into the equitable provision of psychosis care regardless of person or place.
Finally, his current research activity focuses on integrating epidemiological insights into collaborative, multidisciplinary research programmes, which will integrate psychiatric epidemiology, neuroscience, social psychology and computational psychiatry to elucidate the causal mechanisms through which the social environment gets encoded in the brain to lead to psychosis, and to develop and test novel interventions to reduce disparities in risk of psychosis by person and place.