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The William Harvey Research Institute - Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry

Dr Livia A Carvalho

Livia A

Senior Lecturer in Neuropsychopharmacology

Centre: Clinical Pharmacology and Precision Medicine

Telephone: +44(0) 20 7882 2101


Dr. Carvalho obtained a BSc in Pharmacology and Biochemistry, MSc in Neurosciences, and PhD in Pharmacology from University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. She subsequently trained in psychoneuroimmunology with Prof. Carmine Pariante at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neurosciences, KCL subsequently moving to the Psychobiology Group at University College London with Prof. Andrew Steptoe. Dr. Carvalho became a Lecturer at the William Harvey Research Institute in 2016. She holds an Honorary Senior Lecturer Post at the Department of Psychobiology, University of Malaga, Spain and is a Fellow of the Institute of Clinical Research.

Her interests rely in understanding whether immunophenotyping depression can influence treatment decisions both in improved disease stratification and in the discovery of secondary inflammation targets for drug discovery and repositioning in depression. This translational approach involves a combination of laboratory-based experiments, clinical trials and real-world measures using epidemiology and molecular (dry and wet lab) approaches.


Dr Carvalho has received several prestigious awards including Young Investigator Awards from the National Alliance for Research in Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD), the European Neuropsychopharmacology Society (ECNP), the British Association for Psychopharmacology Non-clinical Award, and the American Psychosomatic Society.

Teaching Activities

Dr Carvalho leads the module SSCY2 “Brain Behaviour and Immunity” and co-leads the modules and “Clinical Pharmacology and Drug Safety Assessment” with Dr. Aisah Abdool; whilst also contributing to the teaching of other modules within the FMD. She contributes widely for the MBBS Programme by supporting Interviews for Medicine A100 and GEP, OSCE, PBLs, and SSC Y4. She is an academic advisor for several students in the MBBS and Biomedical Sciences Programme, and a fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

I have directly trained numerous researchers inspiring the next generation of Translational Scientists. Some of whom have obtained academic faculty positions Daisy Fancourt (UCL) and Ann Liljn (University Hospital of Northen Sweden), and others followed a career path of their dreams in academia, Naghmeh Nikkheslat (Post doc KCL), Amy Ronaldson (Post doc KCL), or industry Laura Hanns (Senior Scientist UCB), Samantha Lawes (Clinical Trials Manager at IESO), and Gill Weston (Consultant at Flourishing).

Reviewer Activities

Reviewer Ad-hoc for the following journals Brain Behaviour and Immunity, Psychoneuroendocrinology, Neuropsychopharmacology, among others.

External reviewer for fellowships, project and programme grant for the FWO Research Foundation, Brussels; ME Research, Dunhill Medical Trust, UK; Economic and Social Research Council, UK, Alzheimer Research Trust; National Institute of Health Research, UK, Medical Research Council, UK.


Group members

Luis de Souza Teodoro; Christoper Clesse; Simone Jayakuma


Most of her research involves improving precision medicine by immune-related phenotyping individuals with mental illnesses to find and develop tests to allow better targeting of the available treatments to those who would benefit the most, and to identify new targets for patients who are not benefiting from treatment with monoaminergic drugs.

Her projects more specifically revolve around two major themes:

  1. Understanding cellular and molecular mechanisms which underpins disease progression/resistance for novel target identification (precision pathogenesis/discovery)
  2. Who will respond/non-respond to current/novel medications? (Precision stratification/therapy)

Studies are carried out in human volunteers (epidemiological cohorts, general and clinical populations) and involve a combination of laboratory-based experiments as well as real world settings. Improved understanding of the pathways linking the peripheral immune systems is essential for the development of new interventions to prevent and treat mental health, as well as the behavioural and depressive symptoms that commonly accompany physical illnesses. It could also influence treatment decisions and provide alternative targets for potential new antidepressant agents.

If you are interested in this area of research, I am happy to consider full-time or part-time PhD studentship applications. Please email me your CV explaining reasons why you would like to apply.

Figure: Theoretical framework motivating our studies. Successful amelioration of depression is associated to correction of neuroendocrine disturbances. Clinical non-responsiveness to antidepressants is reflected in an inability of antidepressants to exert potent anti-inflammatory effects.

Key Publications

Scopus h-index=36, I am an Associate Editor of the Brain, Behaviour, and Immunity Impact Factor 19.227, ranking 6 out of 274 in Neurosciences.

Full list of publications.

  1. Jayakumar S, Bhui, Carvalho LA Systematic review and meta-analysis of inflammation in depressed kidney review patients. (2022) Psychological Medicine {Epub ahead of print}
  2. Khandaker GM, Zuber V, Rees JMB, Carvalho L, Mason AM, Foley CN, Gkatzionis A, Jones PB, Burgess S. Shared mechanisms between coronary heart disease and depression: findings from a large UK general population-based cohort. Mol Psychiatry. 2019 Mar 19. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 30886334.
  3. Ronaldson A, Carvalho LA, Kostich K, Lazzarino AI, Urbanova L, Steptoe A. The effects of six-day SSRI administration on diurnal cortisol secretion in healthy volunteers. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2018 Dec;235(12):3415-3422. doi: 10.1007/s00213-018-5050-1. Epub 2018 Oct 3. PMID: 30283981
  4. Steptoe A, Ronaldson A, Kostich K, Lazzarino AI, Urbanova L, Carvalho LA. The effect of beta-adrenergic blockade on inflammatory and cardiovascular responses to acute mental stress. Brain Behav Immun. 2018 May; 70:369-375. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2018.03.027. Epub 2018 Mar 26. PMID: 29588232
  5. Lawes S, Demakakos P, Steptoe A, Lewis G, Carvalho LA. Combined influence of depressive symptoms and systemic inflammation on all-cause and cardiovascular mortality: evidence for differential effects by gender in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Psychol Med. 2019 Jul;49(9):1521-1531. Epub 2018 Sep 17. PMID: 30220259
  6. Bell JA, Kivimäki M, Bullmore ET, Steptoe A; MRC ImmunoPsychiatry Consortium, Carvalho LA. (2017) Repeated exposure to systemic inflammation and risk of new depressive symptoms among older adults. Transl Psychiatry. 7(8): e1208




Magdi Yaqoob; Helen Warren; Patsy Munroe; Mike Barnes; Claudia Cabrera


Glyn Lewis; Kam Bhui



Livia Co-leads the module “Clinical Trials and Regulatory Affairs with Prof. Patricia McGettigan and Prof. Steffen Petersen; whilst also contributing to the teaching of other modules within the FMD. Livia is an academic advisor for several students on the BScPhIT course and a fellow of the Higher Education Academy. 

As a supervisor, she has mentored the following research staff and projects:

  • 3 PhD students to completion (Naghmeh Nikkheslat 2011-2014, Daisy Fancourt 2012-2015, Amy Ronaldson 2013-2016);
  • 5 PhD students currently working to completion (Laura Hanns, Ann Liljn finishing 2017); Gill Weston (part-time, 2018); Sam Lawes (2018) and 1 MRes student Thomas Mitchell
  • 2 postdocs Kenia Baiochi (2015); Joshua Bell (2015-2016)
  • 10 MSc students, 3 final year medical students, 2 Erasmus students from Spain


Honorary Senior Lecturer
Psychobiology, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health
University College London

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