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Claire Gillan

Associate Professor of Psychology

Claire’s lab at Trinity College Dublin is interested in developing novel approaches to studying brain health in psychiatric and ageing populations – a key goal is to develop objective tests that can be used to diagnose individuals and predict who will respond to which treatment. Her lab at Trinity aims to define new and more biologically-valid transdiagnostic dimensional psychiatric traits that will aid in our understanding of the neurobiology of mental illness. In combination with this approach, she follows patients longitudinally through treatment and/or transitions into disease-states, aiming to develop predictive tools that can inform treatment decisions and the allocation of preventative interventions. 

Background

Claire received her BA degree in Psychology at University College Dublin in 2009 and her PhD degree in Experimental Psychology from University of Cambridge in 2013. Following this, she was awarded a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship at New York University. In 2017, she started the Gillan Lab in Dublin and since joining Trinity College Dublin has been awarded several major grants for research which aims to identify markers of brain health problems before they arise, and to facilitate early intervention. For much of Claire's work, increasingly large samples are required and as such, the lab are actively experimenting with novel and more efficient methods for large-scale data-collection – these include “gamified” cognitive testing via smartphone apps (www.neureka.ie) and using Twitter as an alternative to ecological momentary assessment.

Claire’s treatment prediction research is supported by a fellowship from MQ, an enterprise partnership studentship from Irish Research Council and Silvercloud Health. Claire’s longitudinal, smartphone-based research (www.neureka.ie) in dementia and mental health is supported by funding from the Global Brain Health Institute, and two recent awards from Science Foundation Ireland: the Frontiers for the Future and Discover awards. She was awarded an ERC starting grant for €1.5M in 2020 and this program will address gaps in our current understanding of how we make and break habits.

She serves as a reviewing editor at eLife and on the editorial board for Brain and Neurosciences Advances. She recently jointed the Wellcome Trust’s Independent Advisory Bank for their new Mental Health Priority Area.

Key Publications

  • Gillan, C. M., Kosinski, M., Whelan, R., Phelps, E. A., & Daw, N. D. (2016). Characterizing a psychiatric symptom dimension related to deficits in goal-directed control. Elife, 5, e11305. [PDF]

  • Gillan, C. M., & Rutledge, R. B. (2021). Smartphones and the neuroscience of mental health. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 44. [PDF]

  • Gillan, C. M., Kalanthroff, E., Evans, M., Weingarden, H. M., Jacoby, R. J., Gershkovich, M., ... & Simpson, H. B. (2020). Comparison of the association between goal-directed planning and self-reported compulsivity vs obsessive-compulsive disorder diagnosis. JAMA psychiatry, 77(1), 77-85. [PDF]

  • Seow, T. X., O’Connell, R., & Gillan, C. M. (2020). Model-based learning deficits in compulsivity are linked to faulty representations of task structure. (in press at J. Neuroscience) [PDF]

  • Gillan, C. M., & Whelan, R. (2017). What big data can do for treatment in psychiatry. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 18, 34-42. [PDF]

You can find more of Claire's publications here.

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