2009 NARSAD Young Investigator Grant: Childhood Trauma, Inflammation, and Depression: A Test of the Biological Embedding Hypothesis
Andrea Danese, M.D., Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and in the Medical Research Council (MRC) Social, Genetic, and Developmental Psychiatry Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College, London. He studies stress and stress-related psychopathology in young people, focusing on the biological mechanisms through which early experiences influence child development and exert life-long effects on health.
Dr. Danese’s research has shown that maltreated children are at heightened risk for treatment-resistant depression. In his 2009 NARSAD Young Investigator Grant research project he linked inflammation in maltreated children with later development of treatment-resistant depression, providing the first evidence that inflammation contributes to the development of depression among this group. This discovery of previously often overlooked immune and metabolic abnormalities in individuals with a history of childhood maltreatment opens the way to promising new treatment targets for difficult-to-treat cases of affective and psychotic disorders.
Dr. Danese trained in medicine and adult psychiatry at the University of Pavia School of Medicine, Italy, and in child and adolescent psychiatry at King’s College London, where he earned a Ph.D. He also studied epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He was appointed Assistant Professor at King’s College in 2008 and Associate Professor in 2013. He is a co-investigator on the Environmental-Risk Longitudinal Twin Study, which follows 2,232 British twins born in 1994-1995. He is also a consultant on the Dunedin Multi-disciplinary Health and Development Study, a life-course investigation of 1,000 individuals born in 1972-1973 in Dunedin, New Zealand.
In parallel with his research activity, Dr. Danese is Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at the National and Specialist Child Traumatic Stress and Anxiety Clinic, at the South London Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, a clinical service for young people suffering from PTSD and difficult-to-treat anxiety.
“My NARSAD Young Investigator Grant provided a secure base enabling me to take some calculated risks and to explore new ground. This was tremendously important at an early career stage. It shaped my research and paid back with innovation, advancing the understanding of the effects of child trauma on mental health.”