New funding for innovative neuroimaging research

The NIHR Maudsley BRC has launched two new funding opportunities to support neuroimaging research to investigate the impact of COVID-19 on underrepresented groups and to apply novel analytical methods to existing neuroimaging data.

The Neuroimaging Theme is one of 21 themes supported by the NIHR Maudsley BRC and sits within the Precision Psychiatry Cluster. It aims to develop, refine and apply cutting edge neuroimaging methods (such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging) to help support prevention, diagnosis and early intervention across a wide range of clinical disorders.

Professor Steve Williams and Professor Mitul Mehta, Lead and deputy Lead of the Neuroimaging Theme invited two early career researchers to shape two new funding calls designed to energise the research community to produce innovative and creative research studies. The calls are entitled ‘Reaching out’ and ‘New questions of old data’:

  • Reaching out: This call will fund projects exploring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in underrepresented patient groups or populations.
  • New questions of old data: This call will support research that is applying novel analytical methods to existing neuroimaging data.

These calls are open to all King’s staff and students and King’s Health Partner employees, and early career researchers are encouraged to apply (applicants can apply to one or both). They form part of an ongoing initiative to inject forward momentum into increased impact and direct translation of neuroimaging research.

Read about previous examples of work supported through these initiatives, such as the Translational and high-impact research awards, and one of our most recently funded projects in the area of silent MRI

Reaching out

The aim of the call ‘Reaching out’ has been designed to give the opportunity to explore important questions related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cognition and mental health in healthy patient populations through the lens of neuroimaging.

This call challenges research teams to reach out, possibly beyond more ‘well-trodden paths’ and consider underrepresented patient groups and / or populations when addressing these questions. For example, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust serves a large and diverse patient population and research has not yet fully explored the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the disease’s natural history for individuals with severe and complex mental health conditions. Similarly little attention has been given to how respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19 might interact with these pre-existing neurological disorders, particularly conditions that share an inflammatory and dysregulated immune response such as Multiple Sclerosis. Alternatively, conditions such as PTSD and experiences of moral injury may have increased during the pandemic. Neuroimaging could be used to further understand the neurobiology of our responses to the pandemic, particularly in those who work on the frontline of the pandemic.  Research groups may also be interested in exploring demographic risk factors such as age and ethnicity in addressing these and other scientific questions. 

Dr Ndabezinhle Mazibuko, Clinical Research Fellow at the IoPPN and Repurposing Lead at the Centre for Innovative Therapeutics (C-FIT) will be leading the development of the ‘Reaching Out’ call.

“We eagerly anticipate the new ideas that will harness evolving neuroimaging innovation to meet the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic,” he says. “This project is particularly exciting as it pursues crucial but often under-addressed conditions such as the mental health and cognitive sequelae to physical illness. We are further delighted that the call encourages the participation of historically under-included population groups.”

To find out more about the Reaching Out call please download further information here, and to apply please contact Dr Anoushka Leslie at

Asking new questions of old data

The aim of the call “Asking new questions of old data” is to promote or create open analysis methods or frameworks within the IoPPN where “old” neuroimaging data and novel methodologies can be integrated together for the development of biomarkers that can be used for precision medicine.

There are numerous open neuroimaging data sets currently available to researchers (for example, The UK BiobankHuman Connectome Project, The ENIGMA Consortium). The IoPPN also has access to an incredibly extensive amount of neuroimaging data of healthy controls and patients spanning a wide range of psychiatric conditions through the Clinical Research Interactive Search (CRIS) and the NeurOimaging DatabasE (NODE)  here at the NIHR Maudsley BRC. The call aims to encourage researchers, clinical staff and students across King’s College London to ask important, new questions around patient health, diagnosis, disease progression or approach to clinical care using these existing data sets. Of particular interest are collaborations between clinical and research staff teams, and projects that aim to demonstrate new or innovative analysis approaches.

Dr Ottavia Dipasquale, Post-doctoral Research Associate at the IoPPN and member of the analysis and neuropharmacology groups at the Centre for Neuroimaging Sciences, is leading the development of the ‘Asking new questions of old data’ call. She said:

“We are looking forward to seeing what the synergistic efforts of clinical and research teams will be able to bring in terms of using ground-breaking ideas and tools on existing neuroimaging data for the development of translational biomarkers for precision medicine. I expect that the use of cutting-edge methodologies on large existing data sets will offer a unique opportunity to push the boundaries of current research towards individualised approaches for diagnosis and treatment of brain disorders.”

To find out more about the ‘Asking new questions of new data’ call, please download further information here, and to apply please contact Dr Anoushka Leslie at

Tags: Precision psychiatry - Neuroimaging - Covid-19 -

By NIHR Maudsley BRC at 3 Aug 2021, 12:51 PM

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