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Full NameProfessor Declan McLoughlin


Organisation:Trinity College Dublin

Email Address:Email hidden; Javascript is required.

Research Fields
  • genetics, genomics and molecular biology
  • neuroscience and mental health
Postgrad Medical Specialties
  • Psychiatry
  • Public Health
Medical Subspecialties
  • Clinical Trials
  • Neuropsychiatry
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry
My Work

Depression is a common debilitating mental illness afflicting 12% of people during their lifetime. At worst, it is life-threatening due to severe self-neglect and up to 6% will die by suicide. According to the WHO, depression is now the leading cause of disability worldwide. The Depression Neurobiology Research Group is a multidisciplinary team of clinicians, research fellows, and postgraduate students. Our research encompasses clinical assessment, neuropsychology, randomised controlled trials, meta-analysis, and molecular biology methods.

Ryan KM, Dunne R, McLoughlin DM (2018) BDNF plasma levels and genotype in depression and the response to electroconvulsive therapy. Brain Stimul 11(5):1123-1131.

Kolshus E, Ryan KM, Blackshields G, Smyth P, Sheils O, McLoughlin DM (2017) Peripheral blood microRNA and VEGFA mRNA changes following electroconvulsive therapy: implications for depressive psychosis. Acta Psych Scand 136(6):594-606.

Kolshus E, Jelovac A, McLoughlinDM (2017) Bitemporal versus high-dose right unilateral electroconvulsive therapy for depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Psychol Med 47 (3):518-530.

Semkovska M, Landau S, Dunne R, Kolshus E, Kavanagh A, Jelovac A, Noone M, Carton M, Lambe S, McHugh C, McLoughlin DM (2016) Bitemporal versus high-dose unilateral twice-weekly electroconvulsive therapy for depression (EFFECT-Dep): a pragmatic, randomised, non-inferiority trial. Am J Psychiatry 173(4):408-17.

Potential Projects

Because of its translational nature, our research activities complement the training needs for future clinician-scientists in the field of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience. Clinician PhD students will join a multidisciplinary team based in both St Patrick's University Hospital and also our wet lab space in Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience (TCIN). We have weekly preclinical and clinical research meetings and journal clubs and are also part of the wider Depression Interest Group in TCIN that has monthly scientific meetings.

Suitable PhD projects can be developed through discussion and meetings with Prof Declan McLoughlin and tailored to meet individual interests and training requirements. It is most likely that projects will extend from our current research activities, which include: clinical trials of adjunctive ketamine for acute hospitalised depression (KARMA-Dep 2) and interleaving ketamine with ECT for depression (KITE-Dep); molecular biomarkers (e.g. DNA telomere length, microRNAs, mRNA, plasma proteins) for depression and other neuropsychiatric disorders; animal models of depression; and molecular mechanisms of action of ECT and ketamine.

Examples of some recent successfully completed clinical and translational PhD projects include:
- Electroconvulsive Therapy for Depression and Ketamine for Relapse Prevention: Factors Affecting Response, Cognition and Research Participation
- Electroconvulsive therapy for depression: optimising treatment and exploring molecular mechanisms
- The effects of depression and electroconvulsive therapy on retrospective memory and general cognition: a longitudinal study.
- High dose right unilateral versus moderate dose bilateral ECT for major depression: time to re-orientation, physical functioning, quality of life and attitudes.
- The molecular, cellular and behavioural effects of electroconvulsive stimulation in the rodent brain.
- Long-term outcomes following electroconvulsive therapy for treatment-resistant depression.