Professor Bill Deakin graduated in Medicine at Leeds University in 1973. He took an extra year in his training to obtain a 1st in Physiology and this excited his interest in neurobiology and the organisation of behaviour. He specialised in Psychiatry and joined the Clinical Research Centre at Northwick Park, London to further his training and worked on his PhD at the National Institute for Medical Research, Mill Hill. He was a MRC Training Fellow for 5 years. His PhD investigated how distinct 5HT (serotonin) neurone pathways in the rat brain have different functions in regulating adaptive, coping responses to stress.
Bill moved to the University of Manchester as Senior Lecturer in the early 1980s to continue 5HT research but in clinical experimental medicine with volunteers and patients with depression, anxiety and antisocial behaviour. One study funded by the Wellcome Trust involved measuring stress hormones in saliva from 500 mothers in the Wythenshawe estate and relating hormone levels to psycho-social adversity and brain 5HT functioning. Some 5HT pathways appear to be involved in anxiety and work to keep us out of risky or stressful situations while others are concerned with resilience in the face of long-term difficulties. 5HT also has important roles in addiction and social behaviour.
Bill’s group developed ideas about the role of glutamate in schizophrenia at first from studies in human post-mortem brain. More recently they have developed novel magnetic resonance imaging methods to track the action of drugs in the brain such as the glutamate antagonist ketamine. Bill is currently investigating how the antibiotic minocycline appears to improve the outcome of treatment for schizophrenia.
He is the experimental medicine lead of the UK Mental Health Research Network, a National Institute for Health Research Senior Investigator and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. He has over 200 refereed publications and an H-factor of 60.