Project Details

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Dr Stephane De Brito

Dr Maria Dauvermann (University of Birmingham)

Dr John Tully (University of Nottingham)

Project area or title

Testing the ecophenotype model of conduct disorder


Conduct Disorder (CD), characterised by antisocial and aggressive behaviour, is a neglected, severe mental disorder with increasing prevalence, which is associated with the highest burden worldwide, both in terms of disability-adjusted life-years and years lived with disability, amongst children aged 0-14 years. Paradoxically, however, despite its high prevalence, CD is among the least widely recognised and studied psychiatric disorders and often go untreated, despite the availability of evidence-based treatments. Childhood maltreatment (CM) is a known risk factor for the development of CD, but there is a substantial subset of youths with CD with CM histories and a substantial subset without. The ecophenotype model holds that maltreated and non-maltreated individuals with the same DSM-5 disorder may differ in clinical severity, developmental course, and neurobiology, but this model has received little attention in the CD field. Using advanced analytical methods (e.g., machine learning), the proposed project will capitalise on and analyse existing multilevel data from several large cross-sectional/longitudinal national (UK BioBank) and international datasets (FemNAT-CD, ABCD) to test the ecophenotype hypothesis of CD. Thus, the student will have the opportunity to liaise and network with researchers across the globe, as well training opportunities with our ENIGMA collaborators in the UK, Netherlands, and the US. The project will combine and train the student in methods from psychology, neuroscience, and computer/data science, which together will put this project at the forefront of research on CD. The results from this project may inform future iterations of the DSM/ICD and guide future personalised interventions for CD.


Children, Young People & Perinatal Mental Health

Severe Mental Health


University of Birmingham

Specific Project Eligibility