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Anita Thapar

Professor Anita Thapar

Professor, Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences

School of Medicine

+44 29206 88325
Hadyn Ellis Building, Room 3.07, Maindy Road, Cardiff, CF24 4HQ
Media commentator
Available for postgraduate supervision


I am a clinician scientist. My primary interests are in child neurodevelopmental disorders and depression. I was  Lead Editor (Joint) of the 6th Edition of Rutter’s Child and Adolescent Psychiatry-the leading textbook for clinicians and scientists.

I head the academic Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Section in the Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences and the developmental disorders group  within the MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics and Division.  I also have  honorary NHS consultant contracts with Cwm Taf and Cardiff and Vale UHBs.

My wider roles include:

Teaching/training of medical and psychology/biomedical students and trainee NHS clinicians

NHS liaison

Translation of our research into policy including Welsh Government Together for Children and Young Peoples Programme on child and adolescent mental health (neurodevelopmental and early help and enhanced support work streams).

I am also on the board of the UK national neurodiversity charity ADHD Foundation. 




































Adrannau llyfrau





Overview of current research

My research focuses on  adolescent depression, ADHD and additional  neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g. autism spectrum disorder) from 0 to 25 years.

My mission is to address questions that have clinical relevance.

Currently funded research projects 

  • Wolfson Centre for Youth Mental Health: £10 million. 
  • Wellcome Trust Collaborative Award: What happens to children with neurodevelopmental disorders when they grow up and why? £875,937
  • Medical Research Council:  Early-onset depression: characterising  development and identifying risks £751,680.21

  • Economic and Social Research Council: Psychosocial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic: Identifying mental health problems and supporting wellbeing in vulnerable children and  families  £410,210

  • Waterloo Foundation Trust:  Neurodevelopmental Disorders Assessment Unit  £160,458

  •  MRC:  The mental health and wellbeing of youth in care and care-leavers:                       Development of a national collaborative research agenda   £91,356.13

  • MRC Mental Health Data Pathfinder: Integrating genetic, clinical and phenotypic data to advance stratification, prediction and treatment in mental   health  £971,676

  • MQ: Adolescent Data Platform, £799, 963 (led at Swansea)

  • MRC Mental Health Data Pathfinder: MytHICAL- Mental Health Informatics in  Children, Adolescents and young adults.  How do my feelings become   numbers?  £708,219

Overseas named and costed collaborations:

NIMH for research on irritability and anxiety (Wellcome Trust with Leibenluft, Pine and Brotman)

Karolinksa Institutet (Rosenquist):  Swedish Research Council for Health Working Life and Welfare (Stockholm)   using genetically informative study designs to assess causal early life risks for neurodevelopmental disorders £399,000

Norwegian Institute of Public Health (Havdahl and Reichborn-Knerrud): Understanding development of mental                      health problems in the population utilizing large-scale health data and novel  molecular genetic methods 9949000 NOK

Key review papers

  • Thapar A, Collishaw S, Pine DS, Thapar AK. (2012). Depression in adolescence. Lancet. 379(9820):1056-67T

  • Thapar A, Rutter M, (2019) Do natural experiments have an important future in the study of mental disorders? Psychological Medicine4:1-10

  • Thapar A, (2018) Discoveries on the Genetics of ADHD in the 21st Century: New Findings and Their Implications American Journal of Psychiatry  1;175(10):943-950

  • Thapar A, Cooper M, Rutter M (2017) Neurodevelopmental disorders, Lancet Psychiatry 4(4):339-346.


Selected original papers

  • Riglin L, Eyre O, Thapar AK, Stringaris A, Leibenluft E, Pine D, Tilling K, Davey Smith G, O’Donovan MC, Thapar A, (2019) Identifying novel types of irritability using a developmental genetic approach.  American Journal of Psychiatry, Jul 1; 176(8): 635–642
  • Riglin L, Leppert B, Dardani C, Thapar AK, Rice F, O'Donovan MC, Davey Smith G, Stergiakouli E, Tilling K, Thapar A. (2020) ADHD and depression: investigating a causal explanation. Psychol Med. 6:1-8. doi: 10.1017/S0033291720000665. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 32249726.
  • Eyre O., Hughes R.A., Thapar A.K., Leibenluft E., Stringaris A., Davey Smith G., Stergiakouli E., Collishaw S., Thapar A., (2019) Childhood neurodevelopmental difficulties and risk for adolescent depression: the role of irritability Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry [Epub ahead of print]
  • Rice, F., Riglin, L., Thapar, A.K., Heron, J., Anney, R., O’Donovan, M.C., Thapar, A. (2018) Characterizing Developmental Trajectories and the Role of Neuropsychiatric Genetic Risk Variants in Early-Onset Depression. JAMA Psychiatry 76(3): 306-313

  • Riglin L, Collishaw S, Richards A, Thapar AK, Maughan B, O’Donovan M.C., Thapar A (2017) Schizophrenia risk alleles and neurodevelopmental outcomes in childhood: a population-based cohort study, Lancet Psychiatry 4(1):57-62.

  • Rice F, Sellers R, Hammerton G, Eyre O, Bevan-Jones R, Thapar AK, Collishaw S, Harold G, Thapar A, (2016) Antecedents of new-onset major depressive disorder in adolescence: a longitudinal familial high-risk study JAMA Psychiatry 

  • Riglin, L., Collishaw, S., Thapar, AK., Dalsgaard, S., Langley, K., Davey Smith, G., Stergiakouli , E., Maughan, B., O’Donovan, M. & Thapar, A. Association of genetic risk variants with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder trajectories in the general population. JAMA Psychiatry. 1;73(12):1285-1292

  • Collishaw S, Hammerton G, Mahedy L, Sellers R, Owen MJ, Craddock N, Thapar AK, Harold GT, Rice F, Thapar A (2016) Mental health resilience in the adolescent offspring of parents with depression: a prospective longitudinal study; Lancet Psychiatry, 3(1):49-57

    Williams NM, Zaharieva I, Martin A, Langley K, Mantripragada K, Fossdal R, Steffansson H, Stefansson K, Magnssuon P, Gudmundsson OO, Gustafsson O, Holmans P, Owen MJ, O’Donovan MC, Thapar A. (2010). Rare chromosomal deletions and duplications in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: a genome-wide analysis. Lancet. 376(9750): 1401-1408.

  • Thapar A, Rice F, Hay D, Boivin J, Langley K, Van den Bree MB, Rutter M, Harold G.(2009) Prenatal smoking might not cause ADHD: evidence from a novel design. Biological Psychiatry. 66(8): 722-727.
  • Rice F, Harold GT, Boivin J, Hay D, Van den Bree MB, Thapar A. (2009) Disentangling prenatal and inherited influences in humans with an experimental design. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  USA, 106 (7): 2464-2467.

Selected previous projects 

  •  Sir Jules Thorn Medical Trust Programme Grant.  Predicting and preventing adolescent depression. Lead applicant.   £993,393.

  • Wellcome Trust Programme Grant. Identifying susceptibility genes for ADHD with antisocial behaviour as a covariate. Lead applicant

  • Wellcome Trust Project grant. Disentangling genetic, intrauterine and environmental influences on childhood psychopathology using a novel method. Lead applicant
  • Wellcome Trust Project Grant. Depression at 17: ALSPAC. Co-applicant.  
  • The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) project grant. Family and genetic influences on children's psychological development.


Undergraduate teaching

  • Academic mentor for undergraduates
  • Lecture and examining:  intercalated BSc Psychology


Education and Qualifications

  • 1995: PhD  University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff
  • 1989: MRCPsych,  Royal College of Psychiatrists, UK
  • 1985: MBBCh (Medicine),  Welsh National School of Medicine, Cardiff

Career overview

Current posts:

  • 1999 - present: Cardiff University School of Medicine. Clinical Professor
  • Visiting Professor, School of Psychology, University of Sussex
  • Honorary Professor, MRC Integrated Epidemiology Unit, University of Bristol

Honours and awards

  • UK Professor of Psychiatry Club:  Academic Women in Psychiatry Award (joint) for enhancing the careers of academic women in psychiatry 2017

  • Learned Society of Wales: Frances Hoggan Medal for outstanding research by women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Medicine or Mathematics. 2017

  • Queen’s Honours: CBE for services to Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 2017

  • Presidents Medal 2015, Royal College of Psychiatrists, UK  for contribution to policy, public knowledge, education and meeting population and patient care needs

  • Ruane Prize 2015, Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, USA for outstanding Child & Adolescent Psychiatric research

  • Elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (FMedSci) 2011, UK
  • Elected Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales 2011, Wales
  • Elected Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, 1995, UK
  • Laughlin Prize 1989 Royal College of Psychiatrists, UK for  highest marks and best recommendation in MRCPsych examinations
  • Maldwyn Catell Memorial Prize (Welsh Medical Council) awarded 1985 (medical school), Welsh National School of Medicine
  • Geraint Walters Prize in Haematology awarded 1985 (medical school), Welsh National School of Medicine

Professional memberships

  • Academy of Medical Sciences
  • Royal College of Psychiatrists
  • Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health
  • UK Child and Adolescent Research Society

Academic positions

  • 1996-1999: Senior Lecturer, Manchester University
  • 1991-1995: MRC Clinical Research Fellow, University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff
  • 1990-1995 (career break for children) Clinical training in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 
  • 1986-1989 Clinical Training in Psychiatry
  • 1985 Junior doctor posts in Medicine, Surgery

Committees and reviewing

Selected panels, advisory and editorial boards


  • Together for Children and Young People Expert Reference Group - A Welsh Assembly Government and CAMHS multi- agency Programme Board to drive forward the development and implementation of service improvement plans.
  • Member of the American Psychiatric Association Review Committee on Neurodevelopmental Disorders [Intellectual Disability, Learning Disorders, Communication Disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Motor Disorders, ADHD].
  • Associate Editor and member of the Editorial Board of the American Journal of Psychiatry
  • The Lancet Psychiatry Advisory Board

Previous selected

  • Member of consultation panel for the National Institute for Health’s Research Development of a Ten Year Strategy for Mental Health - Children and Young People.

  • Learned Society of Wales’ A1 Scrutiny Committee Panel

  • Corresponding Member of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

  • Wellcome Trust Public Health and Tropical Medicine Interview Committee Member
  • Member of the Academy of Medical Sciences Sectional Committee
  • Member of the Academy of Medical Sciences Academic Careers Committee
  • Wellcome Trust Cognitive and Higher Systems Funding Committee
  • Secretary and treasurer of the UK Child Psychiatry Research Society


Child and adolescent/youth mental health from 0 to 25 years



Research translation to Policy and Practice


2020 – 2022    Government Policy: Member of Welsh Health Collaborative's Together for   Children and Young People T4CYP (2) Neurodevelopmental Steering Group; Neurodiversity advisory panel;  Early Help and Enhanced Support Work Stream

2020 – 2025    Board member for UK Patient Charity: ADHD Foundation 

2021 – 2026    Member of European ADHD Guidelines Group (EAGG)


2016                Member of consultation panel for the National Institute for Health's Research Development of a Ten Year Strategy f                          for Mental Health - Children and Young People.

2015 - 2019     Expert Reference Group member of Together for Children and Young People Expert Reference Group - A Welsh Assembly Government and CAMHS multi- agency Programme Board to drive forward the development and implementation of  child and adolescent mental health service improvement plans in Wales

Other panel memberships and boards 

Ruane Prize Committee, Brain & Behavior Research Foundation USA

 The Lancet Psychiatry Journal Advisory Board

  Associate Editor American Journal of Psychiatry 

Member of the American Psychiatric Association Review Committee on Neurodevelopmental Disorders [Intellectual Disability, Learning Disorders, Communication Disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Motor Disorders, ADHD].


Public engagement

We have a track record of working with the media on child and adolescent mental health, especially around ADHD.

I have worked with the Cardiff University Public engagement team (e.g. Cardiff Challenge), the UK Science Media Centre, contributed to and participated in television (a BBC Wales documentary, Breakfast TV and news items), radio (Radio 4 Today programme, national and local radio stations) on ADHD and adolescent depression.

National and international web podcasts and films on ADHD include:

Challenge Cardiff interview

ADHD Facts and Fiction (public lecture)

Last Chance Saloon (short film/documentary)

Ruane Prize winner (short film)